Joe: I couldn't trust defence

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle could see disaster striking.Every time Gillingham attacked in Saturday's First Division thriller at Portman Road, October manager of the month Royle winced.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle could see disaster striking.

Every time Gillingham attacked in Saturday's First Division thriller at Portman Road, October manager of the month Royle winced.

"I could not trust our defence from the first minute," he said. "Our back five were all under par and if you concede four goals at home then you have no complaints about losing.

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"Gillingham must have felt it was Christmas. Two of their four goals were gift-wrapped."

After Ipswich pulled back from 3-1 down to 3-3 it looked as though they were going to extend their superb unbeaten run.

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But Gillingham substitute Mark Saunders' last minute goal made it a heartbreaking day for Town fans after all the joy of the previous few weeks.

Royle added: "We had chances and had efforts cleared off the line, so I could say that defeat was hard on us, but we always looked poor at the back, which was disappointing after our good recent displays.

"Apart from Jermaine Wright, who was not at his real best, and Ian Westlake, who did OK, not one player showed their true form.

"It is over now and we must concentrate on getting another run going. This defeat and the dropping of three points, does not negate all the good work of the previous five or six weeks.

"At 3-3 I expected us to win. Gillingham seemed tired after their midweek travels. But we lost and the fourth goal summed up our day.

"The players know the score and we said appropriate things at the end in the confines of the dressing room."

Gillingham player-manager Andy Hessenthaler, winner for the second time in two seasons at Portman Road, feels Ipswich will be in the Nationwide League First Division promotion race at the end of the season.

"They are a good side and Portman Road is a great place to come and play. At 3-2 to us the atmosphere was fantastic with the home fans giving Ipswich an extra man.

"I am glad I was playing as I don't think I would have been able to cope watching from the dug-out. It was an unbelievable match and in the last ten minutes we settled for a point and were trying to waste time.

"We had the ball in the corner, and ended up scoring a winner. Mamady Sidibe tormented Ipswich all game and a month ago he would have blasted his goal over the bar.

"We pulled him out of a few games and he has come back well. We cannot afford flu jabs and were missing key players Barry Ashby and John Hills through illness.

"Richard Rose came in and was nervous, while Rod Wallace injured a hamstring and will miss our midweek game against Sunderland.

"We have been playing well, and needed a bit of luck. We got that today, and we now need to go on a run like Ipswich have enjoyed to move up the table."

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