MAC DEMAND: NOW AIM FOR 30, MURPHY!
DARYL Murphy’s magnificent form shows no signs of abating as he struck twice to down Fulham but Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy will not be completely besotted unless his unlikely star can reach the fabled 30-goal mark this season.
The Republic of Ireland striker rose unmarked inside five minutes to head his 20th league goal of the season before sealing his double with an exquisite curling strike shortly before the break.
Since the introduction of the Championship, Glenn Murray is the only player to score 30 league goals in one season but the way Murphy tormented Fulham’s defence suggests there is plenty more to come from the 31-year-old.
The hosts struggled to contain the Tractor Boys before the break but showed more grit throughout the second half as Ross McCormack responded with a fierce strike.
Yet the visitors held firm to move within two points of the automatic promotion places, with McCarthy relieved to end a patchy run with a second consecutive victory.
“It’s good for Daryl and he works hard at it, but let’s not be lauding him for getting 21, let’s see him get 30,” said McCarthy.
“He’s not sitting on his laurels and he’s still working hard – it’s a great tally so far but we want more out of him.
“He’s settled, he’s playing as a centre forward not wide left or wide right. He was given the number nine shirt and he’s worked very hard with coach Terry Connor.
“We deserved the win but knew that if they got a goal back the confidence would flow a bit more and it did.
“Once or twice they opened us up but we didn’t really have to deal with it and the final pass wasn’t great, so overall it was a good performance by us.”
The visitors had an early chance when Murphy muscled his way free to cut back for Freddie Sears who fired straight at keeper Marcus Bettinelli.
The two strikers combined once more to force Shaun Hutchinson to turn the ball behind with Murphy rising unmarked from the resulting Jay Tabb corner to head in via a deflection off Bettinelli.
On 20 minutes, a neat turn from Alexander Kacaniklic opened up the visiting defence only for Christophe Berra to make a vital intervention ahead of the lurking Hugo Rodallega.
Bettinelli made a couple of smart saves but had no answer for Murphy’s second as Tyrone Mings’ cross slid unchecked to the Irishman, who feinted on to his left to curl in an elegant strike just before half-time.
The Cottagers showed more purpose after the break as a rare defensive error from Tommy Smith gifted Fulham a lifeline as Kostas Stafylidis’ hopeful ball squirmed through the defender’s legs for McCormack to fire home on 74 minutes.
Yet the hosts looked unlikely to force an equaliser as they fell to an 11th straight winless game against Ipswich dating back to 1963, with boss Kit Symons bemoaning a lack of composure.
“Conceding the goals when we did meant we gave ourselves a lot to do but we showed a lot of endeavour in the second half,” said Symons. “People worked very hard, dug in and battled but we maybe lacked a little bit of composure and quality.
“We got ourselves back into the game with a slightly fortuitous goal but then didn’t have enough to get something out of it.
“When your confidence takes a few knocks and is a bit fragile, one misplaced pass and suddenly it can escalate.
“We got a bit of a foothold and started passing the ball in the right areas to create some opportunities but the final ball was lacking.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Daryl Murphy, No9, celebrates with team-mates after scoring Ipswich’s first. Inset: Fulham’s Kostas Stafylidis battles with Ipswich’s Teddy Bishop