It's grin and tonic for Blues

Sportswriter Elvin King analyses the manner and importance of Ipswich Town's sensational 2-0 derby win over Norwich City in a Division One six-pointer at Carrow Road.

By Elvin King

AS medicines go this takes some beating.

To whip Norwich City at any time is a tonic. To beat them in the current circumstances is just what the doctor ordered to raise an ailing patient from its potential deathbed.

Goals from Fabian Wilnis and Darren Bent are not going to cure all the ills at Portman Road – but they will certainly go a long way for starters.

Ipswich Town proved themselves far too good for a poor Norwich City side as the visitors won a local derby at Carrow Road for the first time since December 1992.

They passed the Canaries off the park and won far more easily than the scoreline suggests.

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Hit badly by injuries to key players, Ipswich used four academy kids during the game with 16-year-old Dean Bowditch making a dream debut by laying on both goals after coming on as a 70th minute substitute.

The striker showed up well, creating Wilnis' opening goal with his first touch and then putting Bent clean through in the second minute of stoppage time.

He may well not be seen on the first team scene again for a while, but the lad from Bishop's Stortford did enough to show that he has a huge future in the game. He is another big plus for the staff at the Ipswich Town academy.

Matt Richards came in for his full league debut and the 18-year-old had an outstanding match as left wing-back. Manager Joe Royle had been loathe to use him in Hermann Hreidarsson's role since the big Icelander was suspended three games ago, but Royle reverted back to his favoured 3-5-2 formation for this match and it worked well with every one of his squad outstanding.

Richards' defending may at times lack strength but going forward he was faultless, always keeping possession and always being available.

Bent, who was joined up front by Darren Ambrose in the absence of any other fully fit regular senior striker, always had the legs on the City rearguard and time and again he spun off his markers and made forward runs.

He took his goal like a veteran to bring his tally to 16 for the season – with every reason to suggest there is plenty more in the tank this term.

The fourth member of the teenage brigade – 19-year-old Ambrose – was slowed by a bad tackle by Craig Fleming in the fifth minute and spent a long time receiving treatment. He appeared to be sick at one time and almost in tears.

However, he recovered to eventually re-take his place and play his part in a wonderful away win.

There is no doubt on this evidence that if Ipswich played Norwich every week for the remainder of the season they would reach the play-offs.

Other sides in the First Division, however, have more about them than a Canaries side that has won just twice in their last 12 matches.

This win must surely spark life into Ipswich again and four points every two games from now on should see them reach 75 points and be certain of a top six finish. They have played all the top sides away and on paper – and on this form – there is a chance.What a day it was for Andy Marshall, the often-maligned wearer of the number one jersey. He was given the stick – and some more – he expected from the Norwich faithful who cheered his every save when he was in charge of the Canaries' goal.

The 90 minutes will have done him the world of good. Not just because of the clean sheet he

collected after being dropped for the previous match at home to Grimsby, but because of the good it has done his relationship with Blues fans.

Supporters who travelled along the A140 won the battle of the fans hands down – and they also gave Marshall full backing against the hatred coming from some of the yellow and green sections of the ground.

Marshall's previous association with Norwich was always going to make his acceptance at Portman Road a difficult one. And so it has proved over the last 20 months with the club failing to find a suitable replacement for Richard Wright.

Seeing spite hurled at the former England Under-21 keeper by 'enemy' supporters has surely cemented a new bond between Marshall and those who pay good money to see Ipswich Town succeed.

Half-a-dozen clean sheets between now and May 4 will do nicely.

Marshall gave his Carrow Road successor Robert Green a hug and then did a jig in front of the massed ranks of blue and white after the game. It was nice to see James Pullen embrace Marshall as they left the field at the end.

There was genuine delight on the faces of every Ipswich player on the final whistle and fears of any interference to morale from further talks on a pay deferral are thankfully unfounded.

Wilnis continued the rich vein of form he has shown since Royle arrived, while Thomas Gaardsoe had control of home targetman Iwan Roberts and looked much more at home in a central back three role.

Matt Holland did not put a foot wrong and his calm head and expert reading of situations gave Ipswich a big advantage against a Norwich attack where only Paul McVeigh had the ability to really cause any problems.

Mark Rivers had the space and pace to cause trouble down the right but he flattered to deceive and it was no great surprise when Nigel Worthington got exasperated and withdrew him for young Ian Henderson. The move back-fired as teenager Henderson was even less productive.

Norwich used plenty of kidology with pre-match talk of half their squad being unfit. They fielded a side full of players rated with little chance of playing.

But their miraculous recoveries from injury did not match their efforts on the field as Ipswich bossed every position with Jim Magilton, Jermaine Wright and Tommy Miller running midfield with a display of intelligent running and slick passing.

Norwich have reached the top seven on the back of a good home record, but they were torn

asunder and helped by a referee who turned down surely the most blatant penalty of the season when Green tripped Richards as he was going by.

According to the referee Roberts elbowed Gaardsoe in the face in the 27th minute. Yet he got away with a yellow card followed by a deafening silence from the official's whistle when Roberts went over the top and landed his studs above Magilton's knee five minutes later.

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