Jim joins pitch battle

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has joined in the pitch battle over the state of the Portman Road playing surface.He is not making excuses for some poor home performances but says ground staff need to pull their socks up.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has joined in the pitch battle over the state of the Portman Road playing surface.

He is not making excuses for some poor home performances.

But he has called for ground staff to improve matters after a season when standards have seriously deteriorated.

After years of being recognised as having one of the best playing surfaces in the country, the Portman Road pitch is now cutting up badly every home match and not helping teams who like to pass the ball and keep it on the ground.

Contamination caused by problems at a nearby pumping station is given as an explanation why the situation has changed.

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Head groundsman Alan Ferguson has been Coca-Cola Championship groundsman of the year for the last two seasons, but he has his hands full at the moment to try and rectify the decline.

Magilton, who led his team against Burnley in a crucial home Championship match this (SAT) afternoon, said: “Mr Ferguson and his team have earned many plaudits and accolades.

“Now is the time for them to earn their corn. It is not my responsibility.”

Magilton is not making the poor state of the pitch as an excuse for losing four matches at Portman Road.

He added: “I am sure my lads will play on worse, and a bumpy pitch leads to more care and attention and extra concentration in risk situations.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Brian Laws said that he had prepared his side in the knowledge that the surface was going to cut up when his Owls side won 2-0 at Ipswich last month.

An Ipswich Town spokesman up-dated the current situation about the state of the pitch.

He said: “Alan Ferguson and his team are working tirelessly to try and overcome the problems encountered this season.

“Obviously it is a difficult time of the year for renovation.

“The club has every confidence in Alan and his entire team.”

Lighter mowers are now being used to help get the ground into shape, with Ferguson saying: “We are one of the very few first class pitches constructed from natural soil and soil density can be an issue.

“The new mowers don't compact the soil nearly as much. This means that we don't have to aerate the pitch as often.”

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