TRACTOR BOYS SHOW METTLE
Ipswich show an iron will
IT MIGHT not always be easy on the eye but Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town are turning grinding out victories into an art form.
While others were playing out six-goal thrillers yesterday, Town kept on the coattails of the top six with a one-goal, no-thrills, three points.
It owed much to a moment of madness from Bolton keeper Andy Lonergan who inexplicably hauled down David McGoldrick before the Town top scorer got up to ram home the penalty from 12 yards.
And it proved the difference as Bolton failed to recover from the setback to leave them perilously close to the Championship dropzone.
McCarthy admitted: “We are not great, we are not a silky football team. But we are a stubborn and hard-working bunch with a really good team spirit.
“I didn’t think, one to 11, we did enough in the first half but it is nice to sit in here when we have won like that.”
In McGoldrick, Ipswich have someone in the form of his life with the striker keen to translate his club form into an international career with Republic of Ireland.
And Town’s No.10 added bravery to his growing repertoire after grabbing the penalty despite failing to score from his last two attempts.
Of his 15-goal top scorer, McCarthy said:“There was never any doubt he would take the penalty.
“David McGoldrick epitomises us. He ran back 50 yards to tackle (Chris) Eagles when his job is to stick the ball in net.”
Initially, it was another half of football to forget for the Portman Road crowd as Ipswich and Bolton both offered – and gave away – little in a poor first 45 minutes.
It was shaded by the visitors with Mark Davies going close at the second attempt and Neil Danns drawing a smart save from Dean Gerken.
The Ipswich keeper was also equal to Alex Baptiste’s snapshort straight after the turnaround. The home side offered little in the opening exchanges, save for Aaron Cresswell’s 30-yard rocket which was helped over the bar by Lonergan.
But it all changed in the 55th minute when a bout of head tennis ended with Lonergan’s ‘rush of blood’ on McGoldrick, to quote Bolton boss Dougie Freedman’s post-match assessment of the game-changing incident.
McGoldrick made no mistake and Bolton offered little hope of a comeback – leaving Freedman with no complaints.
He said: “It was a very disappointing result.We felt in the first 45 minutes that we were by far the better side, creating two or three opportunities. There was not a lot in it, but a rush of blood in the second half was the difference.
“Andy Lonergan has been fantastic for us and we have no blame culture at this football club.
“But when these things happen, we have to make sure we stick together and not let our heads go down.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose that football match but these small moments are hurting us badly right now.”
While Bolton’s big names continue to battle at the wrong end of the Championship, Ipswich, possessing arguably the smallest squad in the league, refuse to give in.
Ryan Tunnicliffe’s deadline day exit to Fulham, after his loan deal at Portman Road was cut short, left McCarthy’s midfield looking decidedly thin on the ground – a fact not helped by Cole Skuse’s untimely departure after just 32 minutes with concussion.
That left the tiny, dynamic duo of Stephen Hunt at 5ft 8ins and Jay Tabb at 5ft 7ins to boss the midfield and leave McCarthy purring.
“They gave us energy and enthusiasm and a real desire to play the game. They were fabulous,” McCarthy added.