Stewart boost for Blues

FORMER Ipswich hero Marcus Stewart helped beat his old club and then joined the new Blues fan club.The one-time Portman Road goal king's Sunderland outfit ended Town's three-game winning league run at the Stadium of Light.

By Dave Allard

FORMER Ipswich hero Marcus Stewart helped beat his old club and then joined the new Blues fan club.

The one-time Portman Road goal king's Sunderland outfit ended Town's three-game winning league run at the Stadium of Light.

Kevin Kyle's late goal sent Joe Royle's men crashing to a 3-2 defeat last night.

It was a cruel blow for Town who deserved to get something from the game and maintain their progress up the Nationwide League First Division table.

And Stewart admitted: "Ipswich were as good a side as we have played against all season, especially in the first half when they really took the game to us.

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"There looks to be plenty for Town fans to be encouraged by but

we pulled level just before the break and regrouped at half-time.

"All credit to Ipswich – they impressed me. They have had a good run and have what it takes to pick themselves up again."

Stewart, who netted 27 goals in 75 league appearances for the Blues before his cut-price departure to Sunderland 13 months ago, is confident the Black Cats can make a rapid return to the Premiership after relegation last season.

But the 30-year-old striker believes Royle's men can have plenty of optimism.

"I feel that we at Sunderland can keep moving up the table but I told the Ipswich lads that they can quickly get back to winning ways again."

Town were given the lead when home defender Gary Breen turned a 36th minute cross from Darren Bent into his own net.

But seven minutes later Breen went to the other end to equalise and shortly after the interval John Oster made it 2-1 to the home side.

Richard Naylor immediately levelled for the Blues when he headed his third goal of the season.

Sunderland piled on the pressure but Town looked good for a point until Kyle grabbed his 85th minute winner.

Royle felt that Kyle should not have been on the pitch to score it. The striker was booked early on for dissent and the Ipswich boss claimed the Scotland international was very fortunate not to receive a second yellow card following a series of other incidents.

Ipswich brought in on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker Shefki Kuqi for his full debut and played with a 4-3-3 formation. Alun Armstrong was left out while loanee Alan Mahon was on the substiutes' bench after a groin injury.

The Blues now look ahead to Saturday's home game against Rotherham and have no new injury worries.