May the Fors be with you

IF in any doubt Ipswich Town supporters were reminded of the current situation when they walked past a bus shelter right outside Hillsborough.A hoarding advertising reality television series Space Cadets proclaimed the legend “Ipswich we have a problem” referring to a programme that was made at Bentwaters.

By Elvin King

IF in any doubt Ipswich Town supporters were reminded of the current situation when they walked past a bus shelter right outside Hillsborough.

A hoarding advertising reality television series Space Cadets proclaimed the legend “Ipswich we have a problem” referring to a programme that was made at Bentwaters.

And, despite Nicky Forster's late welcome winner. little has changed.


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Ipswich found a team worse than them in an uninspiring contest that had 0-0 written all over it before Forster struck with his third goal of the season to record Town's first double of the Championship

campaign.

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The three points lifted the Blues nine points ahead of the relegation places, and on this evidence Sheffield Wednesday will surely be back in League One next season.

The Owls have not now scored for five matches having missed a couple of sitters on Saturday and been found wanting in front of goal on a number of other occasions.

Although they rode their luck at times, there is no doubt that if either team deserved to win it was Ipswich.

They had the class players on the pitch, and despite the shipping out of so much quality for financial

reasons, the likes of Jim Magilton, Gavin Williams and Jimmy Juan always looked more likely to create something than their opposite numbers.

It took a touch of this class to earn Ipswich a Christmas bonus, with Williams and Jason De Vos making crucial contributions before Forster's natural striking instincts took him ahead of Frank Simek to nudge the ball into the net.

Other than that Nicky Weaver had little to do, while Lewis Price at the other end needed to be on his toes and the Welsh international made a number of notable saves.

With Owen Garvan waiting to add his skills to midfield and Ian Westlake gradually regaining match fitness there is reason to believe that Ipswich will improve over the four-games-in-eight-days holiday period.

But until manager Joe Royle can venture into the transfer window from January 1 there appears little chance of any relief to the shortage of firepower.

Royle opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Danny Haynes and Dean Bowditch playing wide up front outside Forster.

Haynes did as well as expected and with a bit more composure the 17-year-old can make the grade. He certainly has a pace, and also an eye for the penetrating pass. He showed last week that he could finish.

Bowditch has his admirers among Ipswich fans, and there were boos when he was replaced in the 64th minute. But the 19-year-old's season has not got off the ground yet, and as has been said before he so badly needs a goal.

Forster's goal output is not as high as he would like, but he worked well on and off the ball on Saturday and if he was to go lame over the next few weeks Ipswich really would have a problem.

Although unbeaten in three games now, the Tractor Boys have won just twice in 12 outings and this was evident on a difficult pitch that was badly damaged by a concert during the summer.

Royle is still searching to find the right combination, and the number of switches made during the match did not help his side's cause.

Fabian Wilnis started at left-back, moved to right back half way through the first period, switched to central defence for ten minutes during the second half - and then completed the 90 minutes back at right back.

Sito Castro looked happy enough at left-back where he played most of the game - and Wilnis certainly appeared more comfortable on the right.

In his quest to liven things up, Royle resorted to the old chestnut of moving Richard Naylor up front in the 64th minute.

But this did little to improve the front line, and left Town left Ipswich less secure at the back. The

experiment lasted less than ten minutes.

A willing performer, Naylor will play anywhere for his team, but now is the time to knock on the head any thoughts of him reverting to his former striking role.

If Town are to gain any success this season it will be based on Naylor and De Vos providing a strong platform at the back.

With their limited resources this is one department where they can compete on a level playing field with most others.

It was Magilton's 300th Ipswich appearance and despite his 36 years he remains a vital figure in his final playing year for the club. One pass from Magilton can still outweigh one hour of endeavour from the less talented.

Magilton was one of three changes in the Town side with Bowditch and Haynes also coming in, leaving Matt Richards - who will 21 on Boxing Day - waiting until the 64th minute to celebrate his 100th league appearance.

Darren Currie rarely gets the nod to start away matches, with his lack of pace going against him in

matches where Town have to consider their defending options more.

But the 31-year-old's ability to unlock defences with his dead-ball kicks cannot be denied and it was Currie's corner that led to their goal just when it looked as though they were going to stretch the number of league games without a goal this campaign to nine.

Saturday was a big day for reality TV programmes with the X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing coming to a head.

Space Cadets fizzled out during the week with the programme not taking off in the minds of the viewers.

Most of Saturday's game was X-rated with precious little balance and ballroom guile.

But will Forster's goal lead to a lift-off for Ipswich Town?

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