TOM GEM LIFTS THE GLOOM FOR MCCARTHY
TOM LAWRENCE lifted some of the gloom around Portman Road to ease the pressure on Mick McCarthy and add to his glittering array of goal-of-the-season contenders in an entertaining victory over Blackburn Rovers.
The Leicester City loanee will surely be an integral part of Claudio Ranieri’s squad next season after a two-goal masterclass including a 30-yard winner which nestled in the top corner.
Lawrence, who has now scored five goals in his last three matches, has been a cut above everything on show in Suffolk this season which has had many natives questioning the future of McCarthy.
And the manager admitted: “Tom is flying at the minute and he should rejoice in the fact that he is playing as well as he is in a struggling side.
“He has been carrying us with his performances and goals and he will have plenty of options in the summer.
“He should just enjoy his football at the minute and the rewards will come by playing like that.”
Despite a nervy last 15 minutes after Danny Graham pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, McCarthy added: “There has been some doom and gloom which comes with not winning games and not playing well. But I thought we put in a good performance and should have won more comfortably.”
Both sides had early chances with keeper Jason Steele Blackburn’s best performer despite allowing Lawrence’s freekick under him for Town’s opener.
Blackburn were level before the break when Hope Akpan steered the ball beyond an unsighted Bartosz Bialkowski.
The next goal was always going to be crucial between two sides struggling for form and it was the hosts that got it in the 53rd minute after Cole Skuse touched on Lawrence’s corner and Christophe Berra slid the ball home at the far post. And four minutes later, Lawrence lit up the cold Suffolk air when he unleashed a brilliant shot from 30 yards which found the top corner.
In keeping with his solo goals against Sheffield Wednesday, Lincoln and QPR, it was a goal worthy of winning a match.
And so it was at Portman Road after Danny Graham pulled a goal back for Blackburn from the penalty spot when Adam Webster was adjudged to have pulled down Akpan.
It should have set up a nervy last 15 minutes, especially against an Ipswich side who needed a late equaliser to draw with non-league Lincoln last time out, but Blackburn offered little hope of snatching a point. Their best moment came in the final seconds but manager Owen Coyle was left frustrated after his side were denied a second penalty when Derrick Williams appeared to be manhandled by Josh Emmanuel.
Coyle said: “I am convinced it was a penalty. Referees have a tough job but they have to get the big decisions right.
“We shot ourselves in the foot but I do feel a little aggrieved as it was so obvious the whole stadium saw it.
“We were cutting out the individual errors but the goals we gave away were cheap and avoidable – although Tom Lawrence’s was a contender for goal of the season.
“We now have a run of home games to move ourselves up the league.”
ON TRACK: Ipswich's Tom Lawrence celebrates his brace INSETS: Hope Akpan celebrates scoring Blackburn’s first goal and Danny Graham adds a penalty for their second