TOM GEM LIFTS THE GLOOM FOR MCCARTHY

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dave Good­er­ham

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

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

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