Winter blues melt away

INSTEAD of a winter of discontent ahead there are now signs that the Blues are about to enter an era of improvement and better fortune.

Ipswich 3-1 Plymouth

INSTEAD of a winter of discontent ahead there are now signs that the Blues are about to enter an era of improvement and better fortune.

No one should be fooled that beating a poor Plymouth side was anything special but, given that Town had not won in their four previous games and were only a couple of points above the drop zone, it was an important victory.

It was also well deserved and carved out on a foundation of doing the basic things right and players being strong.

Led by Jason De Vos, the side showed plenty of resolve to keep Plymouth at bay, with Sito Castro and Jay McEveley swallowing up the danger on the flanks and pushing forward themselves.

The side endeavoured to win the ball in the first instance, Kevin Horlock and Jimmy Juan in particular won their midfield battle.

Most Read

Darren Currie taunted and teased his old club but it was his precision at set plays that exposed Tony Pulis' side, who have been difficult in recent times to beat.

Stung by being left out of the starting side at Derby, Currie was determined to show he is worthy of a place and Pilgrims' skipper Paul Wotton could only partially clear one of his many corners.

McEveley was positioned perfectly in the D to bury the ball through a crowded box for his first Town goal.

Once Town had taken the lead, they settled into a decent rhythm, playing good possession football and dictating the tempo.

Another Currie corner caused consternation and De Vos flicked on the flag kick from the edge of the six-yard area and Jimmy Juan stole in at the far post to nod in for his second Ipswich goal.

The slight worry for Ipswich was they lapsed in concentration again just before half-time and again straight after the break.

You can't gloss over the fact that Plymouth looked a poor side and only the Hungarian international Akos Buzsaky and Tony Capaldi looked comfortable at this level.

Better finishers might have had Town in deep trouble early on but Micky Evans and Wotton were wasteful with free headers.

Apart from trying to outmuscle the Town defence, usually with sneaky and cowardly tactics, they did not look a danger.

How Evans escaped a booking when he clearly smashed into Lewis Price's exposed ribs, as the keeper took a high ball, is anyone's guess but the referee did not seem to be on the same page as the rest of us when it came to interpreting the rules.

Argyle's goal came six minutes after the break with a wonderfully executed free-kick from almost 25 yards. It was as if Buzsaky had seen Jim Magilton in midweek, when the Town skipper curled one into the top corner from a little further out.

The classy Hungarian also skimmed the Blues crossbar with a corner just on half-time and he wriggled into decent shooting positions a couple of times but found Price well positioned.

The Argyle goal gave Pulis' side some hope but Ipswich never really looked troubled.

The comfort of a third goal came rather controversially, when Nicky Forster tumbled over keeper Romain Larrieu after latching on to a Sam Parkin header.

The linesman appeared to give the award which incensed the Plymouth players and Paul Connolly found himself in the book.

When the kerfuffle died down, a patient Matt Richards calmly sent Larrieu the wrong way with his left-footed spot-kick and his first-ever penalty as a senior player was also his second goal in a week.

Town eased through the rest of the game without ever really sparkling, while Argyle had a couple of efforts on goal but were never convincing.

There were signs that Town's form, confidence and belief is coming back and manager Joe Royle will be delighted that Forster managed a good hour, while Ian Westlake enjoyed a half-hour run out.

By the time the Coventry City game comes round, Royle should have a full squad to choose from and already he is having to leave players out.

The omission of Fabian Wilnis from the 16 was a surprise, with no defenders on the bench at all, while Dean McDonald was also left sitting in the stands.

While not so good for individuals, the Blues are getting to the stage where they want to be in terms of choice.

Soon there will be no room for error, competition is getting so fierce that no one is guaranteed a place, complacency will not be tolerated and there will be no excuses.

The five points in a week has left Town in 13th place but, amazingly, they are just two points from the play-off places.

After so much going so wrong in the first three months of the season, the signs are now that so much could about to become so right, on the pitch at least.

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