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Friday, May 20

That's that then

Pride of Anglia will return with all the usual results, stats, news and reports in July.

Thursday, May 19

Town 0 West Ham 2

A second successive play-off defeat to West Ham brings to an end a season that at times had promised so much. Two second half goals by Bobby Zamora settled the encounter in the visitors favour and the 4-2 aggregate victory deservedly takes the Hammer's on to Cardiff to face either Preston or Derby for a place in the Premiership.

Sick of the play-offs? This was Town's sixth failure at the semi-final stage since the play-off's were first introduced at the end of the 1985/86 season (a league record) and the fifth occasion in the last nine years that Town fan's have had to endure this end of season heartbreak.

Post match reaction:

BFJ: "I will go away fairly quickly and get some reading done. It's hard to take, and the players will feel it as well just as they did last summer. But they've got six week's break and we will see what transpires as to who will be here and who will not. But if you had offered me a play-off place before the season began then I would have taken it. To have finished third in the table and to have gone out, there is an injustice, but that's the format."

Kelvin Davis: "When the dust has settled, we'll look back on this season and recognise just how good it's been. We had some great wins and for two months we were top of the table - against all expectation from the pundits who were predicting a mid-table slot when the year started. So we have proved a lot pf people wrong and all in all it has been a good year but at the moment it doesn't feel like that because losing out in the Play-Offs is, of course, massively disappointing."

Fabian Wilnis: "I have said my goodbyes to the boys in the dressing room. I hope it is not the end. I told them that I hope to see them all again on July 4 when we return for pre-season training, but I will just have to wait and see what the future holds for me. This time last year I didn't think I could be any more disappointed than I was then, after we were beaten at Upton Park. That was a horrible time. But this is worse. The belief was definitely there that we could do it this time, but it wasn't to be."

So once again this season Town have come up short when it really mattered - against our promotion rivals. Ipswich accumulated just eleven points out of a possible thirty against the other sides that finished in the top six. Our away form, especially in the run in, also undermined our attempt at automatic promotion, that back in mid-February (with us sitting pretty at the top of the Championship with a five points lead) looked an odds-on certainty. But your can't knock them for entertainment value. The division highest scores with 85 goals, a total of 141 goals in the 46 league games played, and at least four six-goal thrillers that I can think off. Watching Town may be unpredictable but certainly never dull!

Wednesday, May 18

Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war

BFJ has called on Ipswich fan's to create a 'real cauldron of noise' at FPR tonight as Town look to advance to the play-off final at Cardiff on May 30th at the expense of West Ham. "Let's do to them what they did to us last year, they made it quite hostile for us down there and I'm looking for all Tractor Boys and Girls to get right behind the team and make it a real cauldron of noise."

Captain Jim Magilton, whose hat-trick against Bolton in the 2000 play-off semi's helped secure a place in the final at Wembley, believes the pressure of tonight's game will bring out the best in both sides. "I'm not sure any of the lads will have experienced anything like what they will get on Wednesday night. There's a fantastic prize at the end and there are two great footballing sides. They are going to come and play the way the always do. It's going to be a night of lots of ups and downs - it's not going to be one for the faint-hearted."

Despite throwing away a two-goal lead in Saturday's first leg Hammer's manager Alan Pardew insists that his side love the big occasion. "We've shown this season that we like the big occasions and that can only be a positive thing going into a game as tense as this. We've won at some tough places where we've had to show a lot of character and spirit. I think there's only one occasion since I've been at the club when we haven't performed on the big stage. That was in the play-off final last season, and that's something we don't intend to repeat. Our preparation over the last few days has been really positive and we're determined to do ourselves justice." Anything less than a repeat of January's 2-0 victory at FPR is likely to see Pardew's two year reign at Upton Park come to an end.

Saturday's 2-2 draw, was a superb match "spoiled by bully boy tactics" and Town "choose a televised match to show that they intended to kick their way out of the division come hell or highwater" claims one West Ham site. The editor, suggest that "o­ne or two of Alan Pardew's men are to be kitted out with special Kevlar heel and ankle protectors to supplement their usual shin guards" as Royle's "Dogs of War" will repeat Saturday's tactics and kick the Londoner's off the pitch!

Elsewhere, David Sheepshanks, talking to the London Evening Standard, says the club is close to achieving its 10-year plan of providing 50% of the first team squad through the Academy. "Winning the FA Youth Cup is a good indicator. We've now got a number of youngsters with a real potential. Four first-team players developed from the 2001 youth team - Bent, Westlake, Richards and Ambrose. We believe this year's youth squad could provide even more." Singling out Academy director Bryan Klug for special praise he continued. "I know of clubs who have big, brash academy facilities. That guarantees nothing. Our success is due to Bryan Klug and his staff. At many clubs the academy is separate from the first team. We set out to engineer a seamless transition. The first team train on the next pitch to the academy boys. They eat in the same canteen. It forms a powerful bond."

And lastly, reports from Scotland suggest that Guinenan defender Mo Camara may snub a summer move from Burnley to Celtic in favour of one to Suffolk, and Town will take on Boston United at York Road in a pre-season friendly on July 16th.

Tuesday, May 17

Etherington your mine

Fabian Wilnis has promised to reign in West Ham's Matt Etherington in the play-off semi-final second leg at FPR on Wednesday. "I will use all the tricks I am allowed to. I have played against Matthew a number of times, and know he doesn't like playing against me. Things went much better for us after his influence went from the game, and this is how I intend it to be on Wednesday. He is a good player, but I am confident I can handle him. " Etherington set-up both of the Hammer's goals on Saturday as they roared into a two-goal lead inside the first fifteen minutes.

Town fought there way back into the game, through a James Walker own goal and Shefki Kuqi's 20th goal of the season, and the Finn has called on Town fan's to raise the roof in the return game. "We finished 12 points ahead of West Ham so it was disappointing for a lot of people not to make it on the last day. So this is now the moment we have been waiting for all season, the chance to get promoted. Hopefully, the fans will be up for it and it is important we as players are up for it and can get them going. We have a lot to give them and they have a lot they can give us. The more noise the better to put pressure on West Ham."

The last remaining tickets for the game went on general sale yesterday morning and quickly sold out. "Every ticket has gone now for both us and West Ham and it will a full house," said ticket office manager John Ford.

Town's all-conquering U-18's had to settle for the runners-up spot in this weekend's Ten Brinke Bouw Tournament in Varsseveld, Holland, losing 3-0 to Paris St Germain in the final. In their group games the Academy side had defeated Ajax 2-0, drawn 2-2 with PSV Eindhoven, and 0-0 with both Pao de Acucar of Brazil and De Graafschap.

Daniel Karbassiyoon, who spent three months on loan at FPR this season, has been released by Arsenal. The young American defender made four appearances (and two as a sub) for Town between December and March and has been made available on a free transfer while he looks to hook up with another English club.

The Gunner's, in the meantime, have their eye's on keeper Kelvin Davis, according to the Sunday tabloid's. Davis, who was recently named in the Championship team of the season, is seen by Arsene Wenger as a potential replacement for Jens Lehmann.

And lastly, time to kill before your next fix of play-off football tomorrow night? Then re-live Town's epic battle with Bolton and the victory over Barnsley at Wembley here.

Sunday, May 15

Fulham 6 Norwich 0

Please leave the light on!

West Ham 2 Town 2

Town came from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw with West Ham United in yesterday's Championship play-off semi-final at Upton Park. West Ham were two-goals up inside the first quarter of an hour, through former Ipswich loanee Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora and, but for some poor finishing, could have put the tie beyond Town's reach in the first half.

However, the Blue's pulled one back just before the break, when Tommy Miller's free-kick deflected in off the leg of 'keeper James Walker. That swung the game in Town's favour and their was a certain inevitability about the equaliser which came from Shefki Kuqi fifteen minutes from the end. An excellent game, which should ensure that any remaining tickets for Wednesday second leg will be snapped up early on Monday.

BFJ was full of praise for another excellent Kelvin Davis performance and a world-class save with the score at 2-1 that kept out Anton Ferdinand's header. "We have been used to Kelvin turning in some great saves since he has been here but maybe that one was a bit special," said BFJ. "It was similar to the famous Gordon Banks save against Brazil and certainly came at a crucial time for us".

Town's manager had had a spat with his opposite number Alan Pardew after a foul by Fabian Wilnis on Matt Etherington in the first half. "Joe was tense. I was not happy with the treatment being given to Matty, I made my feelings known and Joe took exception to that," said the Hammers manager. Hmm, that would be the same Etherington that cynically took out Ian Westlake in the second period then.

Both managers could at least agree on one thing, the poor performance by referee Uriah Rennie. "In a game like this you need consistency from a referee, and we didn't get it," said Pardew. While BFJ chipped in "I'm a fan of Uriah Rennie as a referee, but when he looks back on the game he will probably be a little disappointed in some of his decisions."

Rennie and his officials completely missed a trip by Harewood on Richard Naylor and a hand-ball by Etherington leading up to the home side's opening goal while Pardew argued that the Yorkshire officials decision to award the free-kick to Town that led to the Blue's first goal was a soft-one.

Elsewhere, Jimmy Juan is to remain on loan at FPR for a further year. The Monaco midfielder joined Town back in January, and while he has yet to make a first team appearance he overcome an injury earlier in the year to put in some decent performances for the reserves.

Friday, May 13

League games count for nothing

Saturday's and next Wednesday's two play-off games with West Ham are worth about GBP1.0M to the winners says CEO Derek Bowden: "The four clubs in the Play-Offs will each receive about GBP250,000. Getting to the Final in Cardiff though would take that income up to a minimum of GBP1m. It's been tradition now over the last four years that the winners of the Final donate their half of the proceeds from the game to the losing side, that's normally about GBP750,000."

The referee's for the two play-off games were announced by the Football League earlier this week. Uriah Rennie will be in charge of tomorrow's first leg in London, while Steve Dunn will officiate the return in Suffolk.

West Ham have the upper hand, mentally, say's manager Alan Pardew: "Psychologically it's a blow for Ipswich and they have to pick themselves up this week. I don't care too much about the criticism we've received, a lot of clubs would like to be where we are. My experience of the play-offs is that you can't read anything into it, but we go to Ipswich with a full squad."

Meanwhile Jason De Vos say's the fact that the East Enders edged Town in this seasons two league contests counts for nothing: "This is the start of a new season for us. We have completed a 46-game season but that counts for nothing. All those results mean nothing. We know we have a two-game season and a battle over two legs against West Ham to go into the final game. It is not going to be easy, but we have a lot of belief in ourselves and know we can do it."

There are still around 800 tickets left for tomorrow's away leg at Upton Park while 21,000 plus tickets have been sold for the return game at FPR next Wednesday. Hammer's fans have snapped up tickets for both legs and their tickets allocations for both games are now sold out.

Elsewhere, left-back Mo Camara is once again being linked with a move to FPR, although Celtic Park is another possible destination for the Burnley man, Birmingham City are reported to be planning a summer move for Darren Bent while Charlie Sheringham, son of West Ham's Teddy, will be staying at FPR for at least another year. The 17-year-old was part of the Academy side that triumphed in the FA Youth Cup Final in April.

Thursday, May 12

No spending frenzy

Promotion through the play-offs will not signal an end to Town's financial woes but failure to do so will mean further cuts to the FPR salary budget. Last summer a number of player's futures revolved around success, or lack of it, in the play-off's, with Chris Makin, Jermaine Wright and John McGreal all moving away from Town for better deals. The same hold's true this time around with Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Shefki Kuqi, Fabian Wilnis and Drissa Diallo all out of contract in the summer and contract renewals/extensions all linked to Town's whereabouts next season.

"If we are still in the Championship next year the budget will be even less than it was in the current season, so you could say there is a lot riding on the play-offs," said BFJ. "It is as if there are two doors for us to go through, one to the Premiership and the other back to the Championship, and they are worlds apart."

Captain Jim Magilton says he has no plans on retiring from the game even if a new deal at FPR is not forthcoming: "I'll carry on playing while I feel I have something to contribute to the team and the players around me. Nothing will be finalised about me staying on at Ipswich until the end of the campaign."

Elsewhere, Jamie Peters, who will be signing for Town during the close season, is with the Canadian U-20's for a series of friendly internationals as the Canucks prepare for this summer's FIFA World Youth Championships in the Netherlands. The first game is tomorrow tonight against Honduras in the Pan-American Stadium in New Orleans.

Wednesday, May 11

Reserves avoid wooden spoon

Paul Jewell, manager of promoted Wigan, will be given up to GBP25M by chairman Dave Whelan to strengthen the Latics squad for their first ever season in the Premiership. BFJ, on the other hand (should Town emerge triumphant from the play-off's), has nothing close to that amount budgeted to bolster Town's playing staff. "The two budget plans will differ dramatically. I read that Wigan will be giving manager Paul Jewell a kitty of GBP25m to spend on reinforcements for the Premiership. But if we join them through the play-offs I can confirm we will be spending nowhere near that amount of money, although we know it will cost us a lot more in terms of wages at the higher level. If we are still in the Championship next year, the budget will be even less than it was in the current season, so you could say there is a lot riding on the play-offs. It is as if there are two doors for us to go through, one to the Premiership and the other back to the Championship, and they are worlds apart."

Elsewhere, the reserves rounded-off their season with a 3-1 win at Portsmouth last night. The victory, courtesy of goals from Dean Bowditch, Chris Casement and Dean McDonald, moves Town off the bottom above Pompey and Leicester City for a 13th place finish.

And lastly, Lewis Price has withdrawn from a training camp with the Welsh senior squad due to Town's upcoming play-off commitments. Price, now first choice keeper at U-21 level for Wales, had been named by manager John Toshack to join a party heading for San Sebastian next week.

Tuesday, May 10


Yes, Town's play-off record really is that bad

"I hate the play-offs when my team finishes third," David Sheepshanks tells Matt Scott in today's Guardian. "This is the sixth time we have been in the play-offs in 10 years. It's remarkable when you think we have had two seasons in the Premiership in that time - and in two seasons we were seventh, missing out on the play-offs by one place."

"The majority of football clubs favour the play-off system and I can't say I haven't felt the same when we've finished lower. I know the positive effects of the play-offs on the season and we all knew what it would be at the start. So whatever we think about them it is time for us to fall in love with the play-offs."

For the record ...

Town finished 5th in Division Two. Charlton, who finished 19th in Division One, went on to retain their top flight status with a play-off final win against Leeds United.
Division One/Two Play-Offs
TOWN 0 Charlton Athletic 0
Charlton Athletic 2 TOWN 1
(Charlton won 2-1 on aggregate)

Town finished 4th. Crystal Palace (6th), beat United (5th) in the play-off final.
Division One Play-Offs
Sheffield United 1 TOWN 1
TOWN 2 Sheffield United 2 (aet)
(Shefiield United won on away goals rule)

Town finished 5th. Charlton (4th) beat Sunderland (3rd) at Wembley.
Division One Play-Offs
TOWN 0 Charlton Athletic 1
Charlton Athletic 1 TOWN 0
(Charlton Athletic won 2-0 on aggregate)

Town finished 3rd. Bolton (6th) lost to Watford (5th) in the final.
Division One Play-Offs
Bolton Wanderers 1 TOWN 0
TOWN 4 Bolton Wanderers 3 (aet)
(Bolton Wanderers won on away goals rule)

Town finished 3rd beating Bolton (6th) and then Barnsley (4th) to win promotion.
Division One Play-Offs
Bolton Wanderers 2 TOWN 2
TOWN 5 Bolton Wanderers 3 (aet)
(TOWN won 7-5 on aggregate)
Play-Off Final
TOWN 4 Barnsley 2

Ipswich finished 5th. West Ham (4th) lost to Crystal Palace (6th) in the Cardiff final.
Division One Play-Offs
TOWN 1 West Ham United 0
West Ham United 2 TOWN 0
(West Ham won 2-1 on aggregate)

Looking on the bright side - the last time Town finished third they beat Barnsley in the play-off final. That final was the last one to be played at the old Wembley while this year's will be the last to be held at the Millennium Stadium.

Comings and goings

Sunday's draw at Brighton saw the end of David Unsworth's loan spell with Town as he rejoins Portsmouth. Also off is James Scowcroft. Scowcroft, player of the year when Town won promotion back in 2000, has failed to make any sort of impression during his loan spell from Leicester and BFJ, who had the option of retaining the Stantonian for the play-offs, has decided not do so. His four years as a Leicester player also appear to be at an end with Foxes' manager Craig Levein reported to be releasing Scowcroft along with a number of other City players.

Also on the market, is former Town striker David Johnson, who is one of twelve players no longer required by relegated Nottingham Forest as manager Gary Megson prepares to rebuild the side for life in League One.

Another former striker, Alun Armstrong, is leaving Darlington during the summer and is looking for a side closer to his home in Suffolk, possibly Colchester, although U's manager Phil Parkinson has denied rumour's that Armstrong is on his way to Layer Road.

On the way back from his loan spell at Turf Moor is Dean Bowditch, who is "ready to play his part in the play-off's". Bowditch, made a total of 10 appearances for Burnley, scoring once in their 3-1 victory against Watford.

Another loanee, Jerome Sobers, scored for Brentford in the Bee's 2-1 home win against promoted Hull on Saturday. Sobers remains with the London side for their League One play-off semi-final games against Sheffield Wednesday.

The head injury that saw Fabian Wilnis replaced by Drissa Diallo in the first half at the Withdean, will not prevent the Dutchman from lining up against West Ham in the play-off's. Wilnis, required a number of stitches but will "be fine" according to physiotherapist Dave Williams.

Elsewhere, former Town manager George Burley, now boss at Derby, has warned his counterparts at Everton and Bolton, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce, to be careful that their upcoming European campaigns do not distract them from the business of Premiership survival. "Europe can have an adverse effect when you're not a big club," he said. As can buying over the hill Nigerian internationals, arrogant Italian 'keepers and dubious French midfielders. Town of course were relegated from the top-flight the season after qualifying for the UEFA Cup by finishing 5th.

Suffolk's U-18's emulated Town's FA Youth Cup triumph with a 2-1 victory over Hampshire in the FA County Youth Cup final at FPR on Saturday. The come from behind win handed Suffolk the cup for the first time in 61 years.

And lastly, Darryl Knights was an unused sub as England lost 1-0 to host nation Italy in the UEFA European U17 Championships on Sunday. The young lions started their group games with a 4-0 win against Belarus, but lost the second against Turkey 3-2 and after the weekends loss end the tournament in third place in their group.

Monday, May 9

Brighton 1 Town 1

Having led the division by five points just two months ago the play-offs once again provide Town with their only possible route back to the top flight. The 1-1 draw and results elsewhere ensures Brighton can enjoy Championship football next season, and as Town's fans trudged away at the end of 90 minutes, the Seagull's fan's celebrated survival with a half-hearted pitch invasion.

Requiring Reading to do them a favour by getting a result at Wigan, this was a game Town had to win and Shefki Kuqi got the ball rolling with a goal after just four minutes. But retaining a lead away from home just isn't something Town have been able to do recently and it was no real surprise when Brighton equalised, through Adam Virgo, just six minutes later. News that Wigan had taken the lead and shortly after had scored a second filtered through to the Withdean and the 750-odd Town fan's in one corner of the stadium resigned themselves to the Blue's seventh end of season lottery.

Town should have been awarded a penalty in the first half, when Darren Bent was brought down, but ultimately it made no difference to the day's outcome as BFJ pointed out post-match: "The officials were not up to a game of this stature. But it doesn't matter - because we didn't win the game. But we have to pick ourselves up. We play West Ham in the play-off semi-final, and we will focus on that. I am not worried about the fact that they beat us at this stage last year. We finished 12 points ahead of them in the table. We have been defeated only once in 10 matches, so we go into the play-offs in decent form."

So, it's the 'Appy 'Ammers in the play-offs again with the two semi-final dates confirmed as Saturday 14th May at Upton Park and Wednesday 18th May at Portman Road.

Wigan clinched second place and automatic promotion finishing their game against Reading with a 3-1 win. Lee McCulloch and Jason Roberts and a late strike from Nathan Ellington ensured that they finished above Town and win a place in the top flight for the first time in their history.

Brighton v Town pictures

Sunday, May 8

Deja Vu

It's the last day of the season. Promotion to the Premiership is just ninety minutes away. Town and 750 fans head for the South Coast today and horribly familiar territory ...

Six Years ago ...

Before P Gd Pts
1. Sunderland 45 62 102
2. Bradford 45 34 84
3. TOWN 45 34 83

Bradford, managed by Paul Jewell, start the final day in second place a point clear of Town. The Yorkshire side clinch promotion by coming from 1-0 down at Wolves to win 3-2, while the Blue's beat Sheffield United 4-1 at FPR. Watford, who finish in 5th place, nine points behind Town, go up through the play-offs.

After P Gd Pts
1. Sunderland 46 63 105
2. Bradford 46 35 87
3. TOWN 46 37 86

Five Years ago ...

Before P Gd Pts
1. Charlton 45 36 91
2. Man City 45 35 86
3. TOWN 45 27 84

To finish above BFJ's Manchester City and win the second automatic promotion spot, Town need to beat Walsall at FPR and hope that City lose at Blackburn. That is happening until Rovers capitulate in the final half-hour and City win 4-1. Town's 2-0 win counts for nowt but the play-off voodoo is layed to rest as the Blue's see off Bolton & Barnsley to rejoin the top-flight.

After P Gd Pts
1. Charlton 46 34 91
2. Man City 46 38 89
3. TOWN 46 29 87

Today ...

Before P Gd Pts
1. Sunderland 45 34 91
2. Wigan 45 42 84
3. TOWN 45 29 84

Town, although level on points with second place Wigan, have a vastly inferior doal difference and must better whatever Paul Jewell's side do today to join already promoted Sunderland in the Premiership. Town are at Brighton (who need a point to ensure Championship football next season), while Wigan host Reading (who need to win by a better scoreline than West Ham to grab sixth place).

More on today's showdown: Judgement day, Royle commands TV performance, Kevin sweet on promotion, One Jewell, one Royle - and only one pot of gold, Wigan warned: Big Joe is watching, Currie envisages dream ending.

Friday, May 6

Stay focused

As the final day of the regular season rapidly approaches, BFJ has told his players to stay focused on getting a result at the Withdean and worrying about what Wigan have done at the final whistle on Sunday afternoon. Town must better the Latics result - against play-off chasing Reading - against a Brighton side that need a point to guarantee Championship football for another season. "I have told the players to forget all that is going on around you. So many people are asking me how I feel Wigan will do that they are missing the point that if we don't win, it won't matter. It won't be an easy game. We are playing a desperate team who need the points, so I don't expect the walkover people are talking about. It is a hard game."

Supporter's Player of the Year Shefki Kuqi says its now time for him to repay the fans: "I am so proud to have been voted Ipswich Town player of the year, but it is not just me who deserves to celebrate, it is everybody connected with the club. Every player had enjoyed a wonderful season and our fans have been superb. So let's grab a couple more goals at Brighton - and then hopefully we can celebrate together in one big party."

The Finn has a triple incentive to win the game for Town on Sunday and gain promotion. On his last visit to the Withdean we was in the Sheffield Wednesday side relegated by Brighton; he will win a new deal at FPR; he wants to play against his brother Njazi who is closing in on a first team place at Birmingham City.

David Unsworth, whose loan spell at Town ends after Sunday's game on the South Coast, say's he would consider joining Town permanently whatever division they are in next season: "It's an uneasy situation and I want to know what the future holds. I've got a year on my contract at Portsmouth and we will see what develops. If a move to Ipswich was on offer I would be interested, even if we don't go up. I wouldn't dismiss anything. Last year I didn't think I would be a Portsmouth player so who knows what will happen."

And lastly, Needham Market won the Suffolk Senior Cup at FPR last night with a 2-1 win over Walsham-le-Willows, Billy Clarke is recovering well from yesterday's knee surgery and FA Youth Cup winning team mate, Darryl Knights, was an unused sub in England's 3-2 loss to Turkey at the UEFA European U17 Championship's in Italy last night.

Thursday, May 5

Virus strikes

Jason De Vos, Richard Naylor and BFJ are all suffering from a sickness bug ahead of Sunday's crucial game at Brighton with Town's manager having been confined to bed for the day. Of De Jos, BFJ said: "Jason is really struggling. We haven't even seen him since last weekend and at this stage you would have to say he could miss out." Naylor is also suffering from an ankle injury picked up in last Saturday's 5-1 win against Crewe.

Fabian Wilnis however is 'feeling good': "I don't know why, but I have a hunch that something good is going to happen and that will mean that we will win and be promoted to the Premiership."

Meanwhile, while Darren Currie is ready to 'live the dream'. The former Brighton man faces his old team mates for the first time since joining Town this weekend: "I'm an Ipswich player now and that is the most important thing. I have the opportunity on Sunday of fulfilling a lifelong ambition and I won't let anything get in the way of that. It is tantalisingly close. I felt it would come down to this game at Brighton but we go there in good form. We are happy with the result on Saturday, so all we can hope is we do our bit and hope Reading can do us a favour."

Former Town 'keeper Craig Forrest has accepted the position of Honorary Chairperson for the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship's which are to be held in his native Canada. Forrest was capped 56 by the Canucks, 44 times while a Town player.

John McGreal has won the official Burnley Player of the Year award. This brings to eight the number of 'best player' awards won by the former Town defender in his first year at Turf Moor.

Billy Clarke, who missed both legs of the FA Youth Cup final after sustaining medial ligament damage in the semi-final second leg at White Hart Lane is to have surgery to repair the injured knee. "I was obviously disappointed to miss out on the Youth Cup Final but the lads did great and I was able to join in the celebrations on crutches."

And lastly, Sunderland have agreed a fee for Republic of Ireland under-21 striker and Town target Daryl Murphy. Murphy will be heading for the Stadium of Light to undergo a medical and thrash out personal terms later this week.

Wednesday, May 4

Davis is players choice

Town's Reserves lost their penultimate league game of the season by 2 goals to nil at Kelvin Davis collected the Player's Player of the Year trophy at the players awards dinner at FPR last night. Other winners at the annual bash were: Richard Naylor - John Kerridge Most Improved Player (as chosen by BFJ and his staff), Shefki Kuqi - Boxholders and Sponsors' Player of the Year, Billy Clarke - Dale Roberts Academy Player of the Year, while Darren Bent picked up the 'prestigious' EADT/Powergen Player of the Year award.

Darryl Knights won his 10th England U-17 cap in Italy last night in the young Lion's emphatic 4-0 win against Belarus. This was England's opening group game in the UEFA European U17 Championships with further games against Turkey (tomorrow) and Italy (Sunday) to come.

Elsewhere, Lowestoft Town beat Bury Town 4-3 at FPR last night to win the Suffolk Premier Cup Final. Former Town man Lee Durrant netted one of the Trawler Boys goals.

And lastly, Town have been linked with Watford striker Heidar Helguson by sources in Iceland, his home nation. Helguson who has netted 19 times for the Hornets this season has also attracted the attention of Stoke, West Ham and Palace.

Tuesday, May 3

Canaries in through the backdoor

Former Town captain and coach, Tony Mowbray, has been named Scottish Manager of the Year. Mowbray, who moved to Hibernian last summer, is the first person to win the award in their first year as manager. Chairman of the Edinburgh club Rod Petrie said: "I'm absolutely delighted for Tony. It's a super achievement for him in his first year in management. He has done everything he said he would when he took over the team in terms of delivering attacking football and bringing success with it. Off the field, he has done everything he promised too. He relocated his family to Edinburgh and is a fundamental part of our club and the city. I'm also really pleased for Derek. He has shown terrific form this year, as have a number of our players."

According to tabloid reports over the weekend, Sunderland will make a summer move for Darren Bent, should Town fail to gain promotion, and are also reported to have sealed a deal with Waterford United's Daryl Murphy, a player who has had trials with Ipswich this season.

Norwich City could qualify to play in the UEFA Cup next season, even if they do fail to hold on to their Premiership status. Teams from six nations with the best disciplinary record enter a draw for two extra places in the UEFA Cup. The Canaries, who have the third best disciplinary record in the top flight, could be England's entrants in that draw as Chelsea and Spurs who have the best records, will qualify for Europe through league position. So finish bottom, get relegated and still play in the UEFA Cup. Ridiculous!

Monday, May 2

Town Legends Sett about Badgers

Two Icelandic youngsters are among the latest intake of young hopeful's at the Academy. Oskar Petursson (keeper) and Orri Hermannsson (central midfielder) join Liam Barratt (Striker/attacking midfielder), Tony Boto (Striker), Oliver Fenn (Central Midfielder), Kieron Leabon (Striker), Ian Nimmo (Central midfielder ) and Luke Webster (Full-back/midfielder) at Playford Road on a full time basis this July.

Town's U-18's beat their Arsenal counterparts 1-0 at Playford Road Saturday lunchtime before proudly parading the FA Youth Cup around FPR at half-time in the senior sides 5-1 victory against Crewe. A goal from Blair Hammond clinched the win.

Cup medal winner Darryl Knights has joined up with the England U-17's for this months European Championship's in Italy. The young Lion's are grouped with Belarus, Turkey and Italy who they play on May 3rd, 5th and 8th respectively.

And lastly, Town's game at Brighton next Sunday will be televised by Sky, while Town Legends beat Soccer AM's Badgers 4-3 in front of a crowd of around 6,000 at FPR yesterday. Chris Kiwomya scored twice for the old timers while John Wark and Bontcho Guentchev netted one a piece.

Sunday, May 1

Town 5 Crewe 1

Town drew level with Wigan on points in the Championship with a 5-1 trashing of Crewe at FPR yesterday, but remain third on goal difference, setting up a nerve-biting finale to the season next Sunday at Brighton. Wigan drew their televised lunchtime game at Preston 1-1, while Sunderland clinched the title with a 2-1 at play-off hopefuls West Ham.

Shefki Kuqi opened the scoring, as he did at Leeds last weekend, striking home Ian Westlake's excellent pass, but this time Town not only held on to the lead for more than sixty seconds, but extended it six minutes later when Jim Magilton fired home from the edge of the box. Tommy Miller made it three with a 20-yarder of his own soon after the restart and scored his second of the game with just under 10 minutes to play. Pablo Counago made it 5-0 a minute later on what could be his last appearance at FPR before his contract is up in the summer. Crewe, who have now gone 19 games without a win, scored a late consolation when Kelvin Davies miss-handled David Vaughan's cross-come-shot.

"For 20 minutes we were outstanding and won the game in that period," said BFJ. "Once we were two-up it was very difficult for Crewe to come back. We passed the ball and think we play the right way. There are 17,000 season ticket-holders who seem to agree with me. Only Luton have scored more goals than us so we must be doing something right. I make Wigan slight favourites for the second automatic promotion place because they have a home match and I have great respect for their manager (Paul Jewell). It has been looking for a long time as though the promotion issue would be a last-day event. I expect a hard game at Brighton because they need a result to stay up and we have not always been fluent in recent away games. I think the play-off system is flawed but if we have to deal with it we will. No-one is more positive than me."

Pablo Counago was delighted with his goal, his first since netting the equaliser at West Ham back in September. "It was great to go out there and score again and to feel the passion of the fans, it's incredible for me", he told the official site. "I've had some very good times here and, of course, this season has been very frustrating for me but in all the past few years have been really fantastic. We're now looking forward to the last game and anything is possible. When I eventually leave Ipswich I will have good memories of the Club, the players and the fans; they will be big memories for me. My goal today felt good, not just for myself and the team but for the fans."


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