Town show there's life beyond Matt

LIFE without Matt Holland began in earnest for Ipswich Town at sun-kissed Roots Hall.Ever since the summer of 1997, the Republic of Ireland international has been the driving force behind the Blues on the pitch.

LIFE without Matt Holland began in earnest for Ipswich Town at sun-kissed Roots Hall.

Ever since the summer of 1997, the Republic of Ireland international has been the driving force behind the Blues on the pitch.

Last night Jim Magilton took the captain's armband following Holland's financially-enforced move to Charlton. And Irish eyes are still smiling.

The midfield player from Northern Ireland revelled in his new responsibility and showed that he is still enjoying every moment of his Ipswich career.

Magilton said: "It is a great honour and an added bonus to be asked to replace Matt at the helm.

"I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Ipswich and to sign for another season is great.

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"The manager could have opted for a younger up-and-coming member of the squad as captain, but he picked me and I hope I can justify that."

New signing Drissa Diallo had a more than competent Ipswich debut after his move from Burnley, but ex-Celtic keeper Javier Sanchez Broto did not appear although he warmed up with Lewis Price before sitting on the bench.

"Pre-season is a personal thing," added Magilton. "It's all about getting fit and you cannot have enough games. Three matches coming up is a good thing and it will keep fitness levels up."

Ipswich, who fielded an entirely different outfield side in the second half, pulled back from two down to net four splendid goals.

The players were thankful for a 7.45pm kick-off rather than the published 7.30pm, although Price was left with a red face when he allowed Mark Gower to drill a cross from Jamie Stuart under his body in the seventh minute.

After that the young keeper did well enough and had little chance when Ipswich-based Tesfaye Bramble – the brother of Titus – shot confidently low into the net after a break forward in the 36th minute.

Diallo made a tackle but the ball rebounded off Kevin Maher into Bramble's path in front of goal.

But if Third Division Southend, with a host of new signings and trialists accumulated by manager Steve Wignall, thought they were in for a successful night they had another think coming.

From Martijn Reuser's 37th minute corner, Marcus Bent laid the ball into Ian Westlake's path and he bent a fine left-footed shot into the net from 16 yards.

Three minutes later Bent almost tore a hole in the same piece of netting when he took advantage of an error by Maher to gain possession and send a rocket of a shot into the net from 25-yards.

Thomas Gaardsoe, who played in midfield, received ice treatment after an early knock on his left ankle during half-time.

Steven Towers, on trial from Oadby Town and a Steve Staunton lookalike, did well at right back but it was up front where Ipswich impressed with the pace of Darren Bent, Pablo Counago and Dean Bowditch a handful.

A long ball by Naylor in the 57th minute saw Darren Bent pull down the pass effortlessly, round the keeper and roll the ball into the empty net from an angle. It was the goal of a class performer.

Tommy Miller took the captain's armband this half and five minutes from time Nabil Abidallah's corner was headed down and into the net by Counago.

Royle said: "We looked like we had goals in us. With our first choice back line I would have been concerned about the goals we gave away.

"Antonio Murray stood out and Aidan Collins and Drissa Diallo did well. So did Gerald Nash and Richard Naylor in the second period, while Steven Towers knows the game and it was well worth bringing him on trial."

Southend: Emberson, Jupp, Stuart, Cort, Warren, Odunsi, Gower, Maher, Bramble, Broughton, Corbett. Subs used: Clark, Wilson, Husbands, Jenkins, Joy, Kightly.

Ipswich Town: Price; Wilnis, Diallo, Collins, Makin; Magilton, Gaardsoe, Westlake; Armstrong, M Bent, Reuser. Second half subs: Towers, Naylor, Nash, Hogg; Abidallah, Murray, Miller, D Bent, Counago, Bowditch.

Referee: Mr M Thorpe (Martlesham).

Attendance: 3,172.