Town win battle for bragging rights

MEANINGLESS is a word that does not fit into the vocabulary of East Anglian football derbies.Norwich City and Ipswich City might be mid-table in the Championship with little chance of the play-offs - and in Town's case even less of relegation.

By Elvin King

MEANINGLESS is a word that does not fit into the vocabulary of East Anglian football derbies.

Norwich City and Ipswich Town might be mid-table in the Championship with little chance of the play-offs - and in Town's case even less of relegation.

On the face of it there was little at stake at Carrow Road yesterday as the season starts ticking down to its conclusion.

But victory means so much in the battle for bragging rights in this part of the world that this local squabble was competed for with the same intensity as if it had been a world cup final.

And it is Ipswich who came out on top. They were so much superior to their Norfolk neighbours than any other result would have been a travesty.

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For the first time for a number of years it was the Blues who enjoyed most of the good fortune that was going.

There was a case to credit both of their goals to Norwich players, which should not take any gloss of a magnificent overall display.

Manager Joe Royle said that his players would receive eight and nines if he was doing the marking.

And for fans who made their presence felt it was a particularly pleasing Sunday outing into enemy territory.

Okay, the players did their job by silencing home supporters by getting command of the match, but they admitted that they were in turn lifted by the sight and sound of the blue and white section of a well-appointed ground.

And what a difference a few weeks make. From staying behind and baying for the head of chairman David Sheepshanks and even manager Joe Royle, yesterday lunchtime saw Blues fans rise as one to salute their heroes long after the final whistle.

In contrast, a sizeable demonstration took place for an hour outside the ground calling for the dismissal of City boss Nigel Worthington.

In stretching their unbeaten league run to six matches, Ipswich moved above the Canaries in the table - a fact that made the day even more memorable.

And if Worthington survives this crushing defeat, any more displays like this from his side and his position will surely come under serious review by Delia Smith and her fellow directors.

For Royle the world is now looking a much brighter place. He says that this is the fourth team he has been forced by circumstances to build in just over three years at Portman Road - and this one could develop into the best.

All of a sudden there is class all over the pitch, and whoever spotted and persuaded Owen Garvan to move over from Dublin and sign for the Blues deserves the freedom of the borough.

Just 18, he ran the game like the master he has already become. It was like watching a craftsman at work as he controlled the midfield and kept Ipswich moving forwards.

And the person responsible for the loan signing of Jimmy Juan from French club Monaco also knows a thing or two about football.

Juan has come from nowhere to grow into a mature member of the side, which may prove a double-edged sword as his parent club may now be more reluctant to release him - either on loan again or on transfer - next season.

Danny Haynes, once rejected by Norwich City, played his part again after replacing the injured Gavin Williams in the 24th minute.

He was on hand to bundle the late winner over the line, and in the last few matches has added composure to an electric pace that scares the life out of any defender.

Credit here the Academy coaches who have helped turn a one-time full back going nowhere after being released by Charlton into a potent first team player with a promising future.

While Garvan, Juan and Haynes took the main honours, the error-free left-back display of Scott Barron will have Royle and his coaching team purring, while Matt Richards struck the post, caused Robert Green to make a great save - and then made an intelligent and defence-splitting run to pave the way for the winner.

He had options for his cross, but selected the right one - and Alan Lee's header back into the middle was always going to take some defending.

Lewis Price ran into no-man's land when Jonatan Johansson put City ahead, and he could only look on when the same player struck the post.

But he was in no way overawed in his second Norwich derby after being at fault for the City goal in the corresponding game this campaign when he was caught far too far out of goal.

Shane Supple trained on Saturday after a virus but was diagnosed too groggy to hold his place in the team.

It will be one of Royle's selection posers before the Burnley home game on Saturday to keep with Price, or bring Supple back.

Haynes, Jim Magilton, Ian Westlake and Supple dropped out of the team that drew with Leeds last Tuesday with Juan, Williams, Price and Darren Currie coming in.

Currie showed up well, and along with the fortress that was Jason De Vos and 300th game Richard Naylor at the heart of the defence and Fabian Wilnis at right back, proved too much for Norwich to cope with.

Gary Doherty knew he had been in a battle by the end with Lee not letting up for a minute and giving Town an outlet up front that they did not have for most of the season.

'We beat the scum 2-1' will ring round Portman Road for the remainder of the season. The goals may have been a tad fortunate, but the performance was full of meaning.