Marshall comes back to haunt Ipswich

ANDY Marshall is arguably the footballer Ipswich Town fans dislike the most.But it was the 30-year-old's turn to haunt his former club when he pulled off one of the saves of the season to deny the Blues three oh-so-important Championship points on Saturday.

By Elvin King

ANDY Marshall is arguably the footballer Ipswich Town fans dislike the most.

But it was the 30-year-old's turn to haunt his former club when he pulled off one of the saves of the season to deny the Blues three

oh-so-important Championship points on Saturday.

Marshall's problems with Town supporters arise mainly because he was signed from arch rivals Norwich City in July 2001.

It is also because the former England under-21 international failed to shine during his time at Portman Road. He was therefore guaranteed a rough ride on his second game back since his transfer to the New Den in 2004.

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If he had not made a point-blank instinctive save from a close-range Danny Haynes effort in the 62nd minute there is little doubt that Ipswich would now be just four points behind seventh-place Preston, who they play tomorrow night.

With Andy being too handy as far as Town are concerned it now looks very much like another season of Championship football for the Blues.

It goes without saying that defeat at Preston will virtually eliminate the slim chance Ipswich currently have of a top-six finish.

If substitute Haynes had converted Alan Lee's knock-down it would have added to Owen Garvan's early goal and surely have dampened the spirits of the Londoners.

With his outstanding save, Marshall ensured the Lions were in a position to draw level and take home a point they thoroughly deserved.

With Lee obviously not match fit after his near-four week injury lay-off, Ipswich struggled to hold the ball upfront after a stunning opening ten minutes.

The Haynes chance was the result of a rare second-half excursion into the Millwall penalty area and otherwise the final 45 minutes were mainly one-way traffic, with overworked Town defenders battling away manfully.

Even when the 85th minute equaliser from David Livermore arrived it came after Jason De Vos had jumped high to head a previous effort off the line.

Shane Supple must take some of the blame with an abortive attempt to punch clear after rushing some distance from goal.

This left three outfield players to guard the goal and Livermore's well-placed header found a way just under the bar.

Colin Cameron failed to get in a shot when set up right in front of goal soon afterwards and although Ipswich pushed Richard Naylor upfront for the remaining minutes they never seriously threatened to re-take the lead. This was despite Tony Craig being sent off in the three minutes of stoppage time for receiving his second yellow card.

Preston and Cardiff dropped points and Crystal Palace play tonight - so Ipswich lost a gilt-edged chance of putting

additional pressure on the teams just above them.

Why they should start so well and then compete so poorly is a mystery that is not easy to solve. Millwall's 3-5-2 formation cluttered the midfield and gave the likes of Garvan, Darren Currie and Jimmy Juan little room - and little time - in which to play.

But after their team dropped so many gears after a full throttle start, home supporters were left willing the final whistle to arrive long before Livermore struck.

The reason Garvan is rated so highly was summed up in a few fleeting seconds as he struck to put Ipswich ahead.

First he showed his determination to win the ball off Livermore, then he showed a brilliant first touch to caress the ball forward into his stride and thirdly he struck a 20-yard shot with such power and accuracy that Marshall had no chance.

The pitch was covered on Friday night and generally played well despite being wet in places at the South Stand end.

For the second home game running it was freezing cold, with frequent sleet showers making life difficult for the players and uncomfortable for spectators. Town failed in their quest for a third successive home victory, on a day they played with a white ball for the first time in the league this year.

Currie started upfront just behind Lee and Naylor, who has his testimonial confirmed for Portman Road on September 2, was making his 200th Town start.

He continued his effective central defensive partnership with De Vos, while Fabian Wilnis had an exceptional game and was unlucky to be booked when he left the ball after hearing a call of “leave it”.

He was forced into a foul, with Ipswich accusing a visiting player of making that call. It led to more woes as Millwall won a corner from the resultant free-kick.

This led to their equaliser.

The return of Ricardo Fuller tomorrow will be welcomed after serving his one-match ban.

And the Jamaican international will also be available for games against Crystal Palace and Hull.

A decision will then be made with Fuller's parent club Southampton to see what happens to him after that.

A Lee/Fuller partnership will surely give Ipswich more potency tomorrow against a Preston side that has not won for four matches.

And manager Joe Royle will be

looking for more fluency in midfield as the usual “pass them off the park” style was only in evidence for the opening stages of Saturday's match.

Millwall must take a deal of credit for that and they got what they deserved - thanks to Marshall.

The play-offs are a wonderful invention.

And Ipswich will agree despite finishing third last season and not going up.

It has been keeping their season going for a while now - but for how much longer?

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