Ipswich Town fan RUSSELL CLAYDON says two forgotten men have helped to turn smiles upside down at Portman Road

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THERE’S something not quite right about the smile, making Town fans stand out like a sore thumb.

The telling sign is our faces look slightly stretched from the cocktail of emotions that have already taken their toll in this one crazy campaign.

What is left is a smile that looks too perfect, too happy from the pain and misery that has gone before and the furrowed brow is the final giveaway.

When you start explaining our season to a non-follower, such as my fiancee (she wanted to know why we didn’t get five points for putting five past West Ham) it hardly passes as real, were it not for the battle scars we carry around — you can see the Peterborough and Southampton wrinkles if you look closely.

For those that can’t remove this strange upward curve on their faces — I checked with Norwich fans and it is called a smile — and dream of an ending with a play-off final; forget it. Erase it. Because that really is fantasy.

But we’ve all been walking around wondering just how this happened, turning this corner; these four consecutive wins; 12 out of 12 points, on the heels of two points out of 21.

After all, we’ve not signed anyone, in fact, we’ve lost several, missed out on several others, and had to change goalkeeper, again.

My theory is that the answer lies just in front of a defence which had become the leakiest in the league. It didn’t take much to point out in this column long ago that a defensive plumber (midfielder) was needed.

Now we have two who were previously over-looked; Luke Hyam and Andy Drury, that are keeping leading names Leadbitter, Bullard and Bowyer out.

But what is interesting is that they do as much for us offensively as defensively.

It is no coincidence the backbone they created has provided a platform for Lee Martin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Daryl Murphy to turn on the creative ‘jet’ boosters, another absent ingredient.

And with three able wing men behind him with less defensive duties, Michael Chopra is no longer cutting an isolated figure and is making hay again in a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

It has been seven long years since Ipswich fans felt the joy of this winning sequence, but in truth a referee’s misinterpretation of the law in relation to Arran Lee-Barrett’s wild challenge was the gamechanger.

Anywhere else on the pitch, if anyone slashed at someone like that, it was a straight red.

But from having to weather a storm we suddenly got a goal from a great piece of desire by Damien Delaney and we were on our merry way again.

It’s a first visit to Brighton’s new Falmer-based stadium on Saturday and that nervous twitch, you know the one, could become a distant memory far sooner than expected...