It's not over until the fat lady sings
HAPPY days! Portman Road rocked, for the first real time this season, as home fans were treated to a memorable finale on a wet but sizzling Saturday.It felt like Ipswich Town had won this match not once, but twice; and thanks to referee Michael Oliver, it felt like it might never end!Town had recovered from the early blow of conceding after just three minutes, through Clinton Morrison, to score goals either side of half-time from Stern John and Jack Colback.
HAPPY days! Portman Road rocked, for the first real time this season, as home fans were treated to a memorable finale on a wet but sizzling Saturday.
It felt like Ipswich Town had won this match not once, but twice; and thanks to referee Michael Oliver, it felt like it might never end!
Town had recovered from the early blow of conceding after just three minutes, through Clinton Morrison, to score goals either side of half-time from Stern John and Jack Colback.
The game was heading towards a regulation 2-1 home win for Town - which incidentally was my scoreline prediction in Saturday's EADT - when the fourth official raised his board to signal four minutes of injury-time.
That's when the fun really started. Those four minutes came and went, and still Mr Oliver refrained from blowing his final whistle.
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Then came what seemed to be the killer blow. With 95 minutes on the clock, Coventry centre-half Richard Wood, a transfer target of Roy Keane earlier in the season, headed home substitute Carl Baker's cross to make it 2-2.
The Sky Blues celebrated in style, rightly believing that they had salvaged a point right at the death.
But, as Keane alluded to in his post-match press conference, you must always play to the final whistle. And still the final whistle did not sound.
Once City players had finished celebrating, there was time for Town to kick-off again. And, remarkably, they went straight on the attack to regain the lead and finally win the match in the 97th minute.
Pablo Counago kept his nerve to run onto Connor Wickham's lay-off and lift his shot over keeper Keiern Westwood and into the roof of the net.
If there had been a roof over Portman Road, then it would have been lifted sky-high by Town's jubilant supporters. After such a season of doom and gloom, this was a sweet moment.
Thankfully, Mr Oliver decided it was time to blow his final whistle just seconds later. Town had got out of jail, just two minutes after Coventry thought they had escaped.
Anyone who had left Portman Road early (and there were hundreds of them), either before the game entered injury-time or straight after Coventry's equaliser, must be kicking themselves. The injury-time was value for money on its own.
Town have now lost just one of their last 15 games, and are a healthy six points clear of the relegation zone. You get the feeling that real progress is being made.
And yet “progress” was the last word on Keane's lips when his team, so accustomed to scoring early goals in recent games, fell behind after just two minutes and 14 seconds.
Morrison, in acres of space, controlled Freddy Eastwood's accurate pass and calmly beat Arran Lee-Barrett with a sublime finish from 20 yards out, the ball flying in off the post. It was the 30-year-old's ninth goal of the campaign.
Town enjoyed a lot of possession, during the aftermath of Morrison's shock early opener, although they were too often let down by a poor final ball.
Westwood was not seriously tested, although the City keeper did drop onto Damien Delaney's low drive on seven minutes, after Grant Leadbitter had scuffed forwards from a David Norris corner.
Liam Rosenior was the pick of the Town team in the first period, thanks to his surging runs down the right flank. And his ninth minute free-kick caused a stir, with both Colback (twice) and Norris having goalbound shots charged down by defenders.
Coventry were content to soak up the pressure, although they did have one chance to double their lead. Morrison was not far adrift with his 20-yarder, hooking it narrowly wide.
Town seemed to be losing their way as the first half wore on, until John pounced with the equaliser in the 42nd minute.
Rosenior was the creator with a firm cross into the danger zone, and the delivery had enough pace on it for John to head gleefully past Westwood from 10 yards out. It was the Crystal Palace loanee's first goal in a Town shirt, and in fact his first goal for more than a year.
Keane's men were in the driving seat early in the second half, thanks to Colback's fourth goal of the campaign on 52 minutes.
It was a well-worked goal, with crisp passing and impressive movement.
Walters charged down the right, onto Garvan's through ball, and his low cross was delicately back-heeled by Leadbitter, straight into the path of Colback.
The Sunderland loanee has a goalscorer's instinct, and he didn't need a second invitation to sweep the ball into an unguarded net from just outside the six-yard box.
But Town then took their foot off the pedal, and it needed a couple of high-class saves from Lee-Barrett to preserve their narrow advantage.
Playing against his former club, Lee-Barrett diverted Gary Deegan's goalbound shot over his bar in the 62nd minute, and then blocked Morrison's effort with his chest from point blank range just three minutes later.
But Coventry could not score, during this purple patch, and so it didn't seem to matter when Counago then had an 89th minute shot cleared off the goal-line.
Supporters were already streaming out of Portman Road as the game entered injury-time.
They were joined by many more when Wood nodded home a dramatic equaliser. The City celebrations were too much for many home fans, but the game is never over until the fat lady sings - or Counago has scored!