Town win dire cup battle

NOW sponsored by a brewery, this competition has had some more suitable beverage backers on the evidence of last night's match at Portman Road.Ipswich Town maintained their 100 per cent home record with a 2-0 victory that sees them enter the tonight's draw for the second round of the Carling Cup.

NOW sponsored by a brewery, this competition has had some more suitable beverage backers on the evidence of last night's match at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town maintained their 100 per cent home record with a 2-0 victory that sees them enter the tonight's draw for the second round of the Carling Cup.

But there was certainly little to intoxicate the watching public and either the Milk Cup or the Coca-Cola Cup would have been a more fitting title.

Both sides were weakened and there were some plus points for Town manager Joe Royle, but for the hardy souls who turned up to patronise this game there was little for them to enthuse about on their way home.

It was not until the final minutes when the game came to life, with Tommy Miller scoring a rather fortunate goal in the 73rd minute.

This was a huge relief as the prospect of an extra 30 minutes was not one that anyone wanted to contemplate.

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Miller's effort ballooned off Jay Smith and beat the arched back of Stuart Nelson as the keeper tried to grasp an effort that had gone over his head.

It looked game, set and match with League One side Brentford ill-equipped to mount any serious challenge on a makeshift Ipswich defence.

Thankfully, 20-year-old Lewis Price came to the fore to produce some moments of drama and talking points. He made a splendid save in stoppage time, and then almost scored with a huge boot upfield that was turned into an open goal by Ian Westlake after his run from the halfway line.

Price, who would have played in this competition last season if he had not been injured, generally impressed in his home first team debut although there are doubts about his kicking.

The 90 minutes will have done the keeper good, who did well against Gillingham last season at the Priestfield Stadium, although Kelvin Davis will return to the fray for the Coca-Cola Championship visit to Rotherham on Saturday.

And Royle will have been pleased with the displays of Scott Mitchell and Scott Barron, who both celebrate their 19th birthdays on September 2.

It was the former's first start and the latter's debut and they coped efficiently enough in their full-back roles.

With a small squad this season, Royle needs a couple or so young players to come through and force themselves into a position where he can consider them seriously for a starting place.

Last night's action will have moved both Mitchell and Barron's careers ahead nicely and both have a chance of making the grade.

Jerrome Sobers is making sufficient progress to have earned himself a call-up to the bench for the first time.

Fabian Wilnis and Matt Richards missed out with gash wounds and both are doubts for the visit to Rotherham, while Jason De Vos was rested.

Tony Dinning was brought in late after agreement was reached with Wigan that their loanee could play despite the fact that he would be cup-tied.

Often his passes went astray and it was the returning Jim Magilton who took the honours in midfield with Westlake. Magilton lasted the full hour he was pencilled in to play and he came through with no ill-effects.

But it was not a happy first start of the season for Spanish striker Pablo Counago. He was denied a goal because of a push on a defender when he headed into the net, but otherwise he struggled to find his touch.

It was no surprise when he did not return after the interval and if Royle was still undecided about the worth of the club's biggest wage earner before the game he will probably have a clearer opinion now.

Counago's balance was wrong and although his fellow front-runners were just as culpable, he does not have the ability to hold play up front.

Brentford did not bring too many fans after a poor start to the season, but those who turned up at Portman Road tried to make it an occasion.

But they failed and the worth of this competition is put into perspective after matches like this.

Royle used it to blood youngsters last season and although he wants to do well it obviously provides him with a vehicle to experiment, thus making a lengthy cash-producing run less likely.

The manager kept his tried and trusted 4-4-3 home formation going and Ipswich could have gone ahead in the second minute when Dean Bowditch fired over. The 18-year-old was the hero 12 months ago when he blasted in a scorcher at the start of extra-time to see off a gallant Kidderminster side.

Brentford included winger Alex Rhodes, who had trials with Town 12 months ago after impressing for Newmarket Town in the Ridgeons League, but he failed to recapture his form for the Jockeys in the Blues second string and he did not shine last night either.

Two other players with local connections were also in action for the visitors with ex-Colchester United players Scott Fitzgerald and Andy Myers also unable to find enough spark to lift what looked like a very ordinary side.

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