IPSWICH 0-0 WATFORD
Heroic Watford keeper Scott Loach - a self-confessed Ipswich fan - ensured
the Tractor Boys' woeful home run continued.
And while manager Jim Magilton is stubbornly refusing to concede defeat in
the play-off race, a run of just one win in nine games at Portman Road will
surely banish all talk of a late surge for the top six.
England Under-21 cap Loach, who attended the Ipswich academy up to the age
of 12, ensured the Hornets collected another precious point to continue their
climb towards safety.
Watford boss Brendan Rodgers said: "Scott made some excellent saves and at
20 is a wonderful prospect for the future. He has all the attributes to be
a top keeper. He's willing to learn, he comes in hungry every day.
"I am very proud of all my players. They showed steel and determination,
and it's a great point for us.
"We might even have got all three if we'd had more quality with our final
pass. But the objective has always been to stay up and we remain optimistic."
Magilton bemoaned his team's lack of success at home and said: "It's so
frustrating and we haven't had a real desire to stick the ball in the net.
"In the first half we didn't play well and a few choice words were said at
"We needed to show more sense of purpose and in the end we missed enough
chances to win two games.
"I can't fault the players' effort - they have run themselves to a standstill.
"But the play-offs are further and further away, although I won't concede
a thing until it's mathematically impossible."
The pick of Loach's many fine saves came in the 78th minute when he plunged
to his right to fingertip Alan Quinn's drive round a post.
He also denied Jon Stead, Pablo Counago and David Norris, but this was anything
but a one-sided game.
Ipswich, who lacked finesse when it came to finishing, had to rely on a couple
of excellent saves from ex-England man Richard Wright to keep a clean sheet.
Wright came to his side's rescue six minutes before the break when Tommy
Smith looked set to punish an error by Spanish veteran Ivan Campo.
The keeper read the danger and came out to confront Smith, sticking out his
right hand to deny the Hornets star a certain goal.
Wright stopped the same player in the 62nd minute with a spectacular flying
save and Don Cowie was also close with a sizzling drive that flew inches over.
Mel Henderson (Sunday People)