Town win and move out of bottom three

IPSWICH Town found their goal touch at last with victory over Blackpool in a lively Championship fixture at Portman Road this afternoon.

Elvin King

Ipswich Town 3 Blackpool 1

IPSWICH Town found their goal touch at last with victory over Blackpool in a lively Championship fixture at Portman Road this afternoon.

This lifts them out of the bottom three in the table and puts them in good heart for the busy and crucial Christmas period.

Jon Stead gave the Blues the perfect start with a goal inside the first minute with Jack Colback also showing great composure when he made it two on the stroke of half-time.

From looking to have won the game at the break, Ipswich failed to flourish after the interval and it was no great surprise when central defender Ian Evatt headed the visitors back into the game in the 67th minute.

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Gareth McAuley then gave Town a welcome third goal four minutes later following a corner by Grant Leadbitter and they ended fully deserving winners.

The game could have ended 6-3 with Jon Walters in particularly guilty of missing chances after Town were 3-1 up. Blackpool, who had their opportunities, had David Vaughan sent of for his second yellow car after 83 minutes.

Grant Leadbitter and Walters were booked, and will now be banned for next Saturday's trip to Scunthorpe as they have reached five cards.

Town made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Bristol City last weekend when they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.

In came Peters and Colback to bolster midfield with Edwards and John dropping down to the bench. It was Peters and Colback's first starts since Plymouth away on October 24.

Blackpool made five changes despite winning 3-0 at Middlesbrough on Tuesday, and the unfashionable seaside club began the game sixth in the table. They lined up in a 4-3-3 formation.

Former Town striker Clarke missed the game because of a knee injury but hopes to be back in time for Blackpool's home FA Cup game against Ipswich on January 2.

It started to rain as the players warmed up with plenty of empty seats evident with Town's lack of home wins and Christmas shopping taking a toll on the attendance figures.

Skipper Walters was playing up front alongside Stead with Peters on the right of midfield and Garvan on the left.

There was a sensational start when the Blues - having netted just six goals in 10 previous home games - scored in the 29th second. Stead picked up a lose ball 25-yards out and taking the advice of manager Keane to shoot on sight he went around Evatt and let fly with a left-foot low effort that entered the net to the right of a diving Gilks. This was Stead's fourth goal of the season, and his first at home.

It was just the start shot-shy Town needed, but they had a squad in the next minute when Evatt saw his header following a left wing corner headed off the line by Leadbitter standing beside the keeper's right-hand post.

Now it needed a third consecutive clean sheet and Town would collect a vital win. However, in the 11th minute the visitors should have equalised when right-back Eadley's cross was missed by Edwards when leaping alone right in front of Lee-Barrett's goal.

Town were looking hungry, and when Walters got in a back-header from a Garvan 19th minute free-kick, Gilks was relieved that the effort was straight at him.

Play was end-to-end with Wright misdirecting a close range header after a great Garvan run, and seconds later - in the 22nd minute - McAuley did exceptionally well to charge in and block a six-yard Euell shot.

A second goal would be so welcome for Town and from Garvan's cross following a short corner, Walters saw his header come back off the angle of post and bar.

Blackpool were much better than most sides seen in Suffolk this season, but they were mainly forced to be on the defensive by a vibrant Town.

Ipswich scored twice for the first time at home this season when the lively Stead put Colback through on his own from just inside the Blackpool half in the 45th minute. Colback showed great composure to stride on and beat Gilks comprehensively with a neat left-foot finish into the corner of the goal. It was his first Town goal.

Ipswich have never lost at home to Blackpool, and only tasted defeat against them once in total - at Bloomfield Road in August 1962.

There were 22 free-kicks - 11 each - in the opening period. Leadbitter was booked for pulling at Euell's shirt after 50 minutes, and as it was his fifth yellow card he will miss Saturday's Championship game at Scunthorpe.

Great play by Leadbitter eight minutes later saw him get through the visiting defence and slip a splendid ball back into the middle where Walters should have done much better with a free shot at the far post.

Ipswich had failed to get into gear after the interval and a goal looked on the cards for the visitors. It duly came in the 67th minute when Eardley's cross from the right following a short corner was headed powerfully into the net by an unmarked Evatt.

It was a worrying setback for the Blues, but they showed character to hit back in the 71st minute when McAuley headed in a Leadbitter corner after getting in front of the keeper. It was his third goal of the season.

Stead put Walters clear in the 80th minute, but Town missed another great chance. Walters went round Gilks but got bundled off the ball by Crainey. A minute later Walters went clear again, but with Stead waiting un marked in front of goal he over-hit his cross.

Vaughan was sent of for a second yellow card in the after 83 minutes. Walters headed on from a Lee-Barrett kick in the 89th minute, but Stead - clean through - clipped a yard wide after sending the ball over the stranded Gilks.

Walters was booked soon afterwards - and will also miss the trip to Scunthorpe.


Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, D Wright; Peters (sub Edwards 90 mins), Leadbitter, Colback, Garvan; Walters (Quinn 90), Stead. Substitutes: McLoughlin, Smith, Trotter, Wickham, John.

Blackpool: Gilks; Eardley, Evatt, Edwards, Crainey; Vaughan, Bangura (Southern 55), Bannan (Adam 55); Euell, Taylor-Fletcher, Bouazza (Ormerod 71). Substitutes: Rachubka, Martin, Almond, Demontagnac.

Referee: Mr P Crossley (Kent)

Attendance: 19,831.