The Tractor Boys ploughed right through the Forest (oh yes) on Saturday, knocking 6 past the hapless Midlanders giving them a massive boost in confidence. This was just what the doctor ordered. The visitors arrived in numbers, a good crowd probably expecting to see their third win in a row and continuation of their hopes for avoiding relegation. What they actually saw was ritual humiliation, those who stayed to the end that is. They could be forgiven for being expectant though, their own wins included an away derby game at Leicester, and our last 3 matches all ended in defeat. Fortunately this was not how the afternoon panned out. Town were dominant from the off, enjoying most of the possession, and limiting a tawdry Forest to one or two speculative efforts. Town themselves had several good chances on goal, perhaps the best at nil-nil falling to Tommy Miller, who was put clean through after some great work involving the front 6 (well, it seemed like it at times). He coulda-shoulda blasted or placed left or right, but instead tapped with the outside of his foot straight at the 'keeper. He'd make up for it later though... Darren Bent started the match, Joe Royle keeping faith with the out of form striker. He was in a creative mood, was sharp and looked as though he'd taken a leaf out of Shefki's book where workrate in concerned. Talking of whom, what a difference the return to fitness of the bigh Fin has made. He lifts the team and is a thorn in any opponents backside. It was a while before the scoring started, and the first came from a Jim Magilton corner. As the ball swung towards the area Naylor dived to head home. The Town defender was completely unmarked and the Forest backline glared angrily at each other. Moments later Darren Bent almost doubled the lead, a shot came across goal which hit the post, rebounding to Bent at speed, but he was forced to shoot first time and the effort was just wide. The second did come soon enough though, Kuqi rose above his marker to head towards the far post, Gerard got fingers to it but it fell nicely to Westlake who chested it down and rifled home from all of 40cms. Bent again found himself in a shooting position after rounding the goalkeeper easily, then as he steadied to shoot, 2 defenders appeared back on the line and his shot was blocked. He was denied another similar chance when the lino flagged poorly for offside, but you got the feeling that Bent was going to score at some point. I expected there to be more determination from Forest after the break, but they were still the same dreary side, and the pattern of the first half re-emerged with Town dominating again. Jim had gone off for Currie at half time which but this didn't unsettle the team at all. It was pretty soon 3-up for Ipswich, Bent making a nuisance of himself and speeding down the right to pull back a ball for Miller, who made no mistake this time in lashing the ball home. The fourth was again a result of Bent's pace and determination, he raced into the penalty box and was felled by Wes Morgan before having a chance to shoot. Miller scored the resulting pen - Morgan escaped with only a yellow. ..and the fifth (sorry if this is getting boring) came from Bent's work again, he surged down the right and got in a hard shot at an acute angle, the save looped up to Wilnis who headed against the bar, but it fell to Shefki who had time to take a touch before slotting home from close range. At last, for the sixth goal Bent scored. He SO deserved this goal after a fantastic performance. He received the ball 20 yards out, lined it up and shot home from outside the box. Simple. The rout was amazingly completed with over a quarter of an hour to go, to the 7th just wouldn't come. The fans were doing Mexican waves around the ground, this was definitely a better mood than previous weeks. Many positives to take from this game, not least the boost for our goal difference, but the apparent return to form of Bent, the fitness of Kuqi, and some good individual performances notably from Matt Richards. Now we need to do that every week, and wait for 'the others' to stumble. Sounds like a plan.
Well looking ahead at this game the JJB was always going to be a hard place to take points from, so even worse that we have hit our worst run of form in the season so far. Town's big [talis]man was back, Shefki Kuqi passing the fitness test late in the week, so that gave us hope that we'd see improvement from the last 2 games from which we took zero points. But again things didn't go our way, and Wigan were given several guilt edged, polished up and presented on a paper-doily chances to open the scoring. The first was a chance for Ellington, that he should have squared to his team mate who was completely unmarked and staring at an empty goal-mouth, but instead he elected to shott and Kelvin Davis saved. Another shot later on came in from Ellingotn who had turned Wilnis easily to be clean through, cannoned off the post and back to Jimmy Bullard who was free at the back post. With the goal at his mercy and perhaps a little more time than he thought, his first time effort went way over the bar from just 6 yards. At the other end town were rarely threatening, one chance came from almost nothing, with the Wigan goalie clearing on the edge of the box under pressure the ball fell to Miller who tried a first time shot towards the empty goal. It went just wide, and there were defenders back covering anyway. The hope that Wigan had blown their chances and that we'd make half time all square was dashed just minues before the break. Wigan went ahead courtesy of a dodgy penalty from Ellington. The striker was racing through and went down under hardly any challenge from Wilnis marginally outside the box. The 'ref saw it as a foul which was dubious in itself, but also saw the non-offence as happening inside the box. Ellington made no mistake tucking away what turned out to be the winning goal. The second half saw Dean Bowditch come on for a completely ineffectual Darren Bent who had hardly got a touch in the opening period. Shefki stayed on too, and with doubts over his fitness this decision was questioned, especially with the prolific Pablo Counago sitting on the bench. ;o) Things improved slightly, but again barely a chance was created. So another defeat but not as bad a performance the QPR match. One positive from the game was a good performance from Matt Richards. We must now take 3 points Saturday, against an improving Forest side bouyed by an away victory at local rivals Leicester City.XML error: mismatched tag at line 42