Royle manages his resources masterfully
Joe Royle has confronted many challenges during a long career as a combative centre-forward and a no-nonsense manager. But few can have been as formidable as the one he now faces in trying to steer Ipswich towards another promotion bid. If he pulls this one off with a team ravaged by summer departures and now riddled with injuries, it should merit a special place in his scrapbook.
Losing strikers Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi, midfielder Tommy Miller and goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was bad enough. Having their replacements ruled out with the campaign barely under way has been a real kick in the teeth.
To their great credit, Ipswich overcame a Sheffield Wednesday side with problems of their own, thanks to a spirited and skilful showing, epitomised by the youthful zest of new boys Dean McDonald and Owen Garvan, alongside the experience of old hand Richard Naylor.
Naylor, the club's longest-serving player, met Jim Magilton's angled cross to score with a looping header after seven minutes, and former Arsenal trainee McDonald missed the chance of giving his side the extra cushion their first-half performance deserved by firing wide from a good position.
Wednesday, who lost last season's top scorer Steven MacLean with a broken leg in a pre-season friendly, introduced all three substitutes on the hour, changed formation and should have levelled through Adam Proudlock, who headed over from close range.
Ian Westlake punished the miss with a superb strike, driving new Spanish defender Castro Sito's pull-back into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area.
Lee Peacock came off the bench to pull one back with a header from Glenn Whelan's corner, but promoted Wednesday never made enough of their possession to warrant something out of the game.
Royle said: 'Bearing in mind the problems we have had, this was the most significant result for the club for a long time. I couldn't be more pleased. The future is in good hands with these youngsters.'
Wednesday manager Paul Sturrock, who admitted he is still searching for his strongest line-up, had no complaints about the result. 'It was a bit of a culture shock for us coming up against a side who passed the ball like that,' he said. 'It's a learning curve for us.'
Man of the match Richard Naylor - influential at both ends.
Stuart Barnes (Guardian)