Jim gets a timely prod!

MANAGER Jim Magilton was given a timely prod on the eve of the transfer widow being opened.Magilton's Ipswich Town team gave a competent display right through the team from keeper Lewis Price to strikers Alan Lee and Jon Macken And with reports of the boss set to spend cash available to him next month to bring in a goalkeeper, plus a right back and someone to pep up the goal rate, Magilton was given plenty of reasons to have second thoughts.

By Elvin King

Overview

MANAGER Jim Magilton was given a timely prod on the eve of the transfer widow being opened.

Magilton's Ipswich Town team gave a competent display right through the team from keeper Lewis Price to strikers Alan Lee and Jon Macken

And with reports of the boss set to spend cash available to him next month to bring in a goalkeeper, plus a right back and someone to pep up the goal rate, Magilton was given plenty of reasons to have second thoughts.

Price made three outstanding saves, makeshift right-back Alex Bruce got over a shaky start to gain control over Leon McKenzie, and Lee and Macken scored a goal apiece to top an impressive front-running display.

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It was Ipswich's first double of the season against a side not allowed to play Darren Currie as part of the deal on his loan move from Portman Road.

The Sky Blues were not at their best, and after a run of poor displays their fans made their feelings felt after Town's 85th minute second goal. Home manager Micky Adams was left in no doubt about the strength of bad feeling radiating from the stands.

But for all Coventry's deficiencies, it was still a robust Town display, particularly in a second period they completely dominated until stoppage time.

Fan power

Giving up their bank holiday to travel 130 miles or so to Coventry proved a worthwhile and enjoyable Christmas aperitif for Blues fans.

After the drab display at home to Stoke on Saturday this was the perfect pick-me-up on a day when Town re-found their goal touch after scoring just nine goals in their previous ten matches.

Tactics

Coventry obviously had a spy watch Saturday's match at Portman Road, as they put pressure on stand-in right-back Bruce with McKenzie wide left from the start.

The former Norwich player left Bruce for dead a few times early, but full marks to the ex-Birmingham player for sticking to his task and slowly but surely putting McKenzie mainly under wraps.

Gavin Williams played in a central role in midfield with Gary Roberts on the right and Dan Harding and then Matt Richards coming forward when possible to give some left-side thrust.

Rollercoaster

A defeat yesterday and then poor results against in-form West Brom on Saturday and Birmingham on Monday could have seen Town among the bottom four.

Thanks to this win they are now eight points off the play-offs - and 11 off the relegation places.

A Boxing Day that saw a definite upward move.

Turning point

The Ricoh Stadium is the worst place to watch Championship football - with an average of just 1.82 goals a game (Portman Road's average is 3.36).

But Town's management, players and fans enjoyed their visit thanks to an awful miss by Colin Cameron in the 21st minute and a wonderful 93rd minute save by Price from a McKenzie header.

Good and bad

Unchanged for the third game running and unfazed by a fire alarm at the hotel that had players standing out in the car park during the morning, Town took a little while to settle but then turned in an away display to equal ones at Birmingham and Cardiff.

The midfield did their jobs

without reaching their best, which made it even more pleasing that all the other departments in the team worked so effectively.

Not having been beaten by Coventry since 1994, Ipswich appear to have a strong hold over the Sky Blues, but taking that into account it was still a noteworthy afternoon.

And hats off again to Town fans, 1,631 who made the trip and made their presence felt. Surprisingly, eight other visitors to the Ricoh Arena this season have taken more travelling support.

On the debit side, keeping clean sheets remains a problem, and Ipswich still need to score twice to pick up victories.

Lessons learned

It was heartening to have confirmation that hard work on the training ground is bearing fruit at the back and that Lee and Macken are

forging a successful partnership up front. But Ipswich still have to up their game against better sides in the division.

Beating a poor Leeds and a slipping Coventry is one thing, but getting the better of West Brom and/or Birmingham this weekend will be another.

Who would you like to see manager Jim Magilton bring in during the transfer window? To have your views published e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk or write to sports department, Evening Star, 30, lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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