Another painful afternoon for Town fans
Ipswich Town 1 Swansea City 1IPSWICH Town played well in patches, but ultimately this was another painful afternoon to endure.With every game that ticks by, and every day that passes, Town's confidence is ebbing away.
Ipswich Town 1 Swansea City 1
IPSWICH Town played well in patches, but ultimately this was another painful afternoon to endure.
With every game that ticks by, and every day that passes, Town's confidence is ebbing away. They are not playing badly, but that first win of the season is proving more elusive than the scarlet pimpernel.
A dozen games have gone, and Town are still searching! Even Darlington, the Football League's basement club, managed a first win on Saturday to leave Roy Keane's men as the only team from the top five divisions to remain winless.
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For large parts of Saturday's showdown, especially in the first half, it was Swansea rather than Ipswich who resembled the home team.
Paulo Sousa's men started the game better, enjoyed the bulk of the possession, and were far more accurate with their passing. They also looked comfortable on the ball, no doubt a confidence trait that comes with an unbeaten run that now stretches to six games.
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Town were disappointing. They did enjoy a purple patch shortly before and after Pablo Counago's 14th minute equaliser, but otherwise their best football was reserved for the second period.
Too often, passes went astray, especially the long balls pumped forward from the back. Gareth McAuley defended well, which is his primary role, but his distribution was woeful.
The midfield existed on bits-and-pieces. There was no shortage of endeavour, but very little in the way of cohesion. This will probably only come after the winless sequence is broken.
True, Town did step up a gear after the break, and debutant keeper Asmir Begovic had virtually nothing to do except pick the ball out of the net following Craig Beattie's seventh minute opener.
Richard Wright, ousted from the starting line-up and frozen out of the squad altogether, would no doubt have been aware of the irony after all the defensive calamities that had kept him on his toes in recent games.
But Keane's men did not do quite enough to win this game. A draw was the fair result.
A long ball pumped over the top by right-back Angel Rangel caused Town's downfall early on. Beattie charged through uncontested and beat Begovic with a deadly low shot, from just inside the right edge of the penalty area.
It was the Scotsman's first goal for the Swans, since his club record �800,000 switch from West Brom over the summer.
The home side were level just seven minutes later, thanks to a well-worked goal. Counago and Jaime Peters exchanged a slick one-two inside the penalty area, with the Spaniard coolly directing his shot beyond the reach of Dorus De Vries.
It was his first goal of the season, in what was only his fourth league start.
In addition to Counago replacing Tamas Priskin, and Portsmouth loanee Begovic being preferred to Richard Wright, there was a surprise third change to the side that had lost at Barnsley in their previous outing. Full-back David Wright was recalled for the first time since the Carling Cup defeat at Peterborough nearly two months ago.
Keane will no doubt tinker with his side again, for tomorrow night's home game against Watford. The Irishman desperately needs to find that winning formula.
Town had just one half-chance before Beattie broke the deadlock. Keeper De Vries failed to deal with Alan Quinn's cross, under heavy pressure from Jon Walters, but the loose ball would not fall kindly for the hosts.
Beattie's shock opener merely kick-started Town into action, for a few minutes at least, and they were soon creating chances. Peters earned the game's first corner on 13 minutes, from which Tommy Smith's long-range header was punched away in some desperation by De Vries.
But the Swans remained on the back foot and just a few seconds later Counago swept home Peters' intelligent pass from 12 yards out.
The goal, though, was not the catalyst for wave-upon-wave of Town attacks. Far from it! In fact, Swansea still dictated most of the play until half-time.
Town's moves stuttered rather than flowed, and they did not create another meaningful chance until the last minute of the first-half. Liam Rosenior's strong surge down the right flank eventually enabled Peters to swing over a cross, and Counago's brave header at the near post whistled just a foot over the top.
It was better fare after the break, and Keane's men carved out three good chances before the hour mark, beginning with Grant Leadbitter's 20-yard striker that De Vries was at full stretch to smother.
The Swans keeper had more problems dealing with Counago's shot on the turn, from Begovic's free-kick and Walters' knock-down. The Dutchman scrambled the ball around his post.
But it was Walters who had the best of these three quickfire opportunities. Quinn tore down the left wing and swung over a measured cross for the onrushing skipper, who prodded wide at the near post.
Swansea weathered the storm and successfully managed to slow down the pace of the game, though without ever threatening to steal a winner.
Young substitute Connor Wickham tried to engineer a late winner for Town. He hurled a huge long throw into the six-yard box, which soared over De Vries, but the stranded keeper was in the right place to gobble up Leadbitter's follow-up header.
On 84 minutes, Wickham burst onto Liam Trotter's long ball and homed in on goal. The 16-year-old cracked in his shot on target, only for De Vries to block with his legs.
Town could have grabbed that elusive first win in stoppage time. Leadbitter's free-kick was half-cleared into the path of Trotter, who swung a left boot and saw his shot balloon over the bar.
Once again, this was not to be Town's day. They will be hoping that their luck turns in game No. 13.