Jeffers signing proves so good

JIM Magilton's surprise signing of England international striker Francis Jeffers on a one-month deal from Blackburn Rovers has proved a masterstroke.

By Elvin King

Overview

JIM Magilton's surprise signing of England

international striker Francis Jeffers on a one-month deal from Blackburn Rovers has proved a masterstroke.


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The 26-year has helped transform Ipswich Town from one struggling for goals and points to one that can hit the target five times in one away match.

Jeffers scored the equalising goal as Ipswich came back from a goal behind the take advantage of some woeful Hull defending and give their travelling supporters something to cheer about again.

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On this showing Hull do not have players at the back who are good enough to keep them in the Championship.

Their inadequacies aided and abetted Town's return to scoring form, and their best away success since they beat Derby 4-1 at the end of the 2002/3 season .

With Alan Lee - in his 50th Town performance - and Jeffers running riot up front, Hull were run ragged.

But a note of caution here. Town's defending in the first period was nothing to write home about, and if the Tigers had had teeth they could have scored several more than Dean Windass' efforts.

Selection

Town started with two up front for the first time in an away game since Lee and Billy Clarke were partnered in the FA Cup 0-0 draw at League Two Chester on January 6.

Manager Jim Magilton has been happy with the way his five-man midfield functioned in their two previous away games at Watford and Southampton, but had made the switch in an attempt to break the away goal drought. And oh how it paid off.

Jeffers for Walters was the only change from the side that beat QPR 2-1 at Portman Road on Saturday. It was Jeffers' full Ipswich debut, with Walters on the bench against one of his former clubs despite complaining of a tight hamstring after Saturday's game.

Hull manager Phil Brown dropped Michael Turner and David Livermore and brought in fit-again Andy Dawson at left back and Dean Marney on the left of midfield.

The home team began with a 4-3-3 formation with ex-Town striker Nicky Forster effective as a wide player up front.

Manager watch

At the end of a trying period for Magilton this must have been the most rewarding result of his managerial career.

His capture of Jeffers apart, the manager has kept his players in the right frame of mind over the barren period and all of a sudden his squad is looking a more than capable one.

Add Richard Naylor, Gavin Williams, Billy Clarke, Sito Castro, Fabian Wilnis, Chris Casement to the 15 on duty last night and the manager has potentially got a wealth of talent on which to draw.

On the other hand, Hull boss Phil Brown has not got a decent defender on his books.

London buses

You wait ages for one to come along - and then five come at once.

Town had not scored away from home in their previous seven games so it was a huge relief when Jeffers' selection paid off and he took advantage of hesitant defending to net.

Another barren away showing would have seen Town create two unwanted club records - eight successive barren away games, and six consecutive away with a goal in the league.

Good and bad

The good has to be the ability to score five times and to go close on a number of other occasions in a rip-roaring second period.

And to show Town have the

ability to put the ball into the back of the net - when for so long it proved such a problem.

Jaime Peters' goal owed much to a deflection and Hull defended deplorably for every Town goal, but they still stuck the ball into the net when presented with the chance.

On the negative side was Ipswich's defending, which was not up to standard in the first period. Hull had enough shots to have been comfortably in the lead - and they looked likely to score every time they went forward.

But it was not just Town who were being pulled about at the back, with Hull's defending also leaving a lot to be desired.

The pitch had been used for rugby league at the

weekend, which is not the best recipe for providing flat, even surfaces for

passing teams to utilise.

Player watch

Jason De Vos rivalled Jeffers for man of the match such was his efforts, while Danny Haynes caught the eye he came on and Owen Garvan and Sylvain Legwinski complimented each other in midfield.

Lessons learned

How marvellous for Town fans to travel back with a big win to

celebrate, but the Blues will rarely come up against sides as generous in defence as Hull.

Any doubts about a failure to maintain a Championship place have been well and truly quashed thank goodness, and three points on Saturday against Southend will set up an assault on a top-half finish.

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