SMITH SAYS: YOU BERRA FOR­GET IT

Fourth goal in Leeds thrash­ing is mine

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

TEAM-MATES Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra have been at log­ger­heads this week over who scored Ipswich’s fourth in their de­mo­li­tion of Leeds United last week­end.

Rarely has a goal scored this sea­son been so fiercely con­tested, but Smith in­sists his header crossed the line with­out the aid of Berra – some­thing the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional con­tests. Even the Ipswich web­site can’t seem to make its mind up whose goal it is.

The rea­son for their dis­agree­ment is sim­ple: money is at stake.

“It was mine,” Smith in­sists. “Christophe will have to strike that one off his list.

“We have a goal com­pe­ti­tion through­out the whole squad that the gaffer brought in.We all had to put down a tar­get for the sea­son and put some money in. If you hit your tar­get you get your money back, but if you don’t it goes to char­ity.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s im­por­tant to get goals from all around the pitch. Our main job, as a de­fence, is to stop them go­ing in at the other end, but if we can re­lieve a bit of pres­sure on Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick that can only ben­e­fit the team.”

Smith is stay­ing tight-lipped as to what his magic num­ber is.

But after seven years of ups and downs with Ipswich, their long­est serv­ing player is de­lighted that whether or not he nod­ded in his third goal of the sea­son last week is the most press­ing is­sue at Port­man Road.

“This is cer­tainly the best shape I’ve known the club be in in my time here,” added the New Zealand in­ter­na­tional de­fender. “This is nose-bleed ter­ri­tory for me. Over my time here, we’ve never been inside the top two for so long.

“Last sea­son was good for the club, but we just couldn’t break into that top six. But we’ve prob­a­bly taken that ex­pe­ri­ence on

board and that’s what has made the dif­fer­ence this sea­son.

“But we are not even at the half­way point, so we can’t af­ford to get too ahead of our­selves. We’ve just got to keep pick­ing up points and go about our business the way we know how and not con­cen­trate too much on what those around us are do­ing.

“I’ve spo­ken to a cou­ple of the boys in the New Zealand squad about the Premier League, Win­ston Reid and Chris Wood, and it’s cer­tainly some­where ev­ery­one wants to play their foot­ball. It would be a dream come true if we re­alised that am­bi­tion.”

Should Ipswich fail to re­turn to the top flight for the first time since 2001-02, the club could risk los­ing many of their highly-rated stars, with 21-year-old left-back Ty­rone Mings on many Premier League man­agers’ wish-list.

“Th­ese are de­ci­sions for the board, not me, but I’d like to think we have got a good chance of go­ing up and that might be enough to keep the team to­gether,” added the 24-year-old.

“Ty­rone has come a long way in a short pe­riod of time. He is very ath­letic, plus he’s very strong and quick, which you need to be to be a Premier League foot­baller.

“He’s an ex­cel­lent full-back and as­sisted quite a few goals too go­ing for­wards. If he can carry that on, then I’m sure peo­ple will keep watch­ing him. But we wouldn’t want to lose him.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

HEAD BOY: Tommy Smith heads in the con­tested fourth goal in the 4-1 romp against Leeds United

GOAL BID: Berra

ONE TO WATCH: Ty­rone Mings is at­tract­ing top-flight in­ter­est

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