Our great escape, Davis

IPSWICH goalkeeper Kelvin Davis kept his second clean sheet in three games – thanks to an incredible stroke of good fortune.He admitted: "We did more than enough to win the game, but there's no doubt we rode our luck a bit at the end.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH goalkeeper Kelvin Davis kept his second clean sheet in three games – thanks to an incredible stroke of good fortune.

He admitted: "We did more than enough to win the game, but there's no doubt we rode our luck a bit at the end."

Stubborn Stoke, saved from a hiding by stand-in keeper Neil Cutler, were within a whisker of salvaging a point in the 88th minute.

Keith Andrews, on loan from Wolves, saw his shot cannon off the inside of both posts before a grateful Davis flopped on the ball just inches out.

The former Wimbledon number one laughed: "We spent a lot of time in

Most Read

training last week working on that one!

"But obviously it was just down to pure luck. In that situation their lad is more often likely to score, so I'm delighted that we survived and the clean sheet is a bonus."

Davis is not the slightest bit surprised by Town's spectacular rise up the table. Bottom last month, after failing to win any of their opening six games, they are now a top six side courtesy of seven wins in their last eight outings.

He said: "It's down to many things – the quality throughout the side and the introduction of the three loan players has given us a boost. Maybe that was what we needed to kick-start our season.

"I don't think anyone at the club

is surprised that we have turned it round. We always felt it would happen sooner or later, although you still have to go out and do it.

"We're producing the goods now and we need to keep it going. We're well pleased at the moment, but there's still a long way to go."

Davis will be back on familiar

territory tomorrow night when Town travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace.

That was the his base as a Wimbledon player and the 27-year-old recalled the moment when he heard in July that Town were in for him.

He said: "As soon as I heard Ipswich wanted me that was it. There were a few other bits and pieces happening at the time, but nothing concrete.

"I knew Ipswich were a big club with a big support, so that was enough for me. I was also convinced they would be

challenging for promotion and that's what everyone here is working towards."

Stoke defender Clint Hill acknowledged Town were the better side, but could not conceal his disappointment at heading home empty-handed.

Fit-again Hill, making only his second appearance since a summer move from Oldham, said: "We could have got something right at the end.

"Keith Andrews had a chance and hit it well enough, but when you see the ball hit the inside of both posts and then bounce straight into the keeper's hands, you know it's not your day.

"To be fair to Ipswich, they played really well. They put us under a lot of pressure and will definitely be in the shake-up at the end of the season. When you come here you know it's always going to be tough.

"Our keeper was brilliant. He made some great saves to keep it at 1-0 and we're going home thinking we might actually have taken something."

Instead Stoke slumped to their sixth straight away defeat and Hill added: "We're a bit down on our luck at the moment, although it was a sloppy

mistake for their goal."

Cutler's heroics limited Ipswich to one goal and top scorer Pablo Counago admitted: "We needed to get a second goal to kill them off.

"I missed several chances and on another day I might have had a hat-trick, but the most important thing is that we won and moved into the top six."

Matt Richards was cock-a-hoop after his first senior goal – and the 100th of boss Joe Royle's reign – decided the outcome.

The 18-year-old from Harlow said: "It means a lot to me, having been with the club since I was ten and I'll never forget my first goal. The manager will also be pleased – he's been telling me to get as far forward as possible, so he can see I've been following instructions."

Richards commented on reports that Southampton, whom Royle confirmed had made an enquiry for the player and that cash was discussed, were still

monitoring his progress.

He said: "I don't deny it is nice to hear that people are watching me, but I am happy here and want to go into the Premiership with Ipswich."

On-loan star Shefki Kuqi said: "Things are going really well for me and I am enjoying my time with Ipswich, although we should have had at least a couple more goals against Stoke.

"We have to be satisfied with 1-0 because it means another win and three points. I probably should have got a goal myself, but it doesn't matter who scores as long as we win."

Kuqi, whose three-month loan from Sheffield Wednesday will expire on Boxing Day, added: "I like the way Joe Royle has shown faith in me.

 "I don't know what will happen when the loan is up. That will be for the two clubs to decide, but hopefully something will happen. It is better to play my football in the First Division than the Second. I know this league quite well and I am doing my very best for Ipswich.

"We are playing brilliantly and I think we are capable of finishing in the top two. We are definitely good enough for that."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter