Lee is just seven sent
IPSWICH Town made it a magnificent seven unbeaten Championship matches when they came from behind to beat Burnley at Portman Road on Saturday.And much of the credit for the revival must go down to top gun Alan Lee, who has given the Blues a new dimension since his arrival from Cardiff for what looks like a bargain £100,000 last month.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Town made it a magnificent seven unbeaten Championship matches when they came from behind to beat Burnley at Portman Road on Saturday.
And much of the credit for the revival must go down to top gun Alan Lee, who has given the Blues a new dimension since his arrival from Cardiff for what looks like a bargain £100,000 last month.
Town have collected three wins and two draws since former Republic of Ireland international striker Lee arrived in Suffolk.
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Having struggled to make an impact at Ninian Park, Lee's signing did not raise the pulse rates of too many Ipswich supporters.
Nicky Forster and Sam Parkin had previously found it hard to fill the boots of Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi, with injuries not helping the cause of the two summer signings.
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Adam Proudlock was brought in to try and improve the goal output, but his rather hasty entrance was borne more out of desperation and the ex-Sheffield Wednesday man has still to prove himself.
But Lee has hit the ground running.
Danny Haynes has burst out of nowhere to become a force up front, but with the 18-year-old injured seconds before scoring the winner at Norwich last week, Lee had to take on the front-running mantle on his own against Burnley.
Like the rest of his team-mates he took time to settle, but his second half showing was an eye-opener, and gives much hope for the future.
He took his goal like a natural goal poacher, and was judged by a rookie referee to have been brought down for a penalty that was converted so expertly by Matt Richards with eight minutes remaining.
Lee has pace, strength, an eye for goal and a huge enthusiasm for the game. And he acknowledges that the sight of 25,000 fans cheering him on has raised his game.
It is different to what he was used to at his previous clubs, Burnley, Rotherham and Cardiff - and it could just be the key to making Lee into a long-term Town favourite.
This was only Ipswich's second home win in nine attempts, and if they can now make Portman Road a fortress for the remainder of the campaign 18,000 season ticket sales should be ensured for 2006/07.
The turning point came with the switching of Richard Naylor into attack for the second half.
Michael Ricketts had given the visitors the lead just before the break - shortly after Lee had headed against the foot of the post.
Three points were vital to keep alive any slim hopes of the play-offs, as it is a disappointing fact that despite their unbeaten run, the top six positions have failed to get any closer.
Now the points difference between tenth-placed Town and sixth-placed Crystal Palace is down to nine, and gives something for manager Joe Royle and his team to get their teeth into.
Naylor's presence up front ensured that ex-Town defender John McGreal and Wayne Thomas were fully occupied, and it gave the willing Lee extra support.
But more importantly it allowed Darren Currie to take over from Ian Westlake on the right of midfield.
With Haynes and Gavin Williams injured, Westlake was used in an unfamiliar role, and he battled away well in the first period.
But after the interval, Town were better balanced and with Currie prominent did enough to deserve their win even though the penalty was debatable. If it had been given at the other end, the referee would have been ridiculed and the forward involved booed.Sometimes they are given, however, and the referee who has rarely officiated at this level before was certain enough. Wayne Thomas' protests earned him a red card.
Sito accustomed himself well, but it was another frustrating afternoon for club skipper Jim Magilton.
The Irishman loves to play, but with Haynes, Williams and Kevin Horlock, who has joined Doncaster on loan, missing he was still not called upon.
He might get his chance tomorrow at Crewe with Owen Garvan suspended, when another three points could see Town move into eighth place.
Their fans went home happy after such a rip-roaring recovery although most of the first half was dull on a pitch that cut up after recent frosts and hindered Town's passing style.
Shane Supple returned in goal for Town after missing the Norwich game with a virus, which meant that a disappointed Lewis Price returned to the bench.
Supple does appear to be the manager's first choice, and the 18-year-old did nothing to disprove this on Saturday. But it must still be agonising for Price, whose errors have been very few and far between when in the first team.
Town were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at Turf Moor on September 27, the last time that Canadian international Jaime Peters featured in the first team. He was back on the bench but unused.
McGreal battled away as Burnley tried to make up for the loss through suspension of experienced defender Frank Sinclair, while Danny Karbassiyoon, who spent two months on loan at Portman Road last season from Arsenal, was one of the Burnley substitutes.
Ipswich seemed determined to pepper Jensen's goal from long range and virtually every outfield at some stage or another tried his luck from distance.
Only occasionally did Jensen have to save, but he was beaten twice as Ipswich showed their determination to keep the campaign alive by fighting back to win.