Recent history would suggest not. At the half-way stage last year Ipswich also lost at home, to Birmingham City. They went on to lose only once in their remaining 23 games. Barnsley, meanwhile, are doing their bit to undermine the foundations of the First Division with three wins and a draw against its top four teams in the last three weeks.
The story of the afternoon was the dramatic debut of Barnsley substitute Michael Turner who, until two weeks ago, played for Bilston Town in the Midlands Division of the Doctor Marten's League. On Saturday he effectively won the match, setting up the first goal and scoring the second. Young Turner appears to be a promising player with pace, strength and a directness of approach. More unusually he also has a degree from Liverpool University. Before his fast-track promotion to the first team Barnsley's manager, John Hendrie, revealed that he had received a letter from his new recruit asking to be excused from Monday night's Pontin's League reserve team game against Sheffield Wednesday. This was to enable him to attend his graduation ceremony.
Hendry spoke level-headedly of his newest recruit. "He has played in the reserves for us and did well and I was tempted to get him involved last week at Watford," Hendrie noted.
"He's a strong boy, he's quick and he's a bright lad, but we're not getting carried away. He's only played 30 minutes of League football."
It was an odd sort of game in that most of the excitement came in the goalless half. In a first period which featured all five bookings Ipswich came closest when Tony Mowbray headed fellow defender Mark Venus's free- kick against a post while Barnsley might have scored when Matt Holland cleared off the line.
Ipswich's day started to sour after a second-half injury to striker Jamie Scowcroft. His reward for a brave attempt to reach a hoofed clearance was a broken collar-bone following a fierce collision with goalkeeper Tony Bullock. The impact of his replacement Richard Naylor was minimal in comparison to that of Barnsley's Turner, who came on for the ineffective Deon Burton. His impact was swift and introduced some much needed wits to the game as, within five minutes, he skipped over a challenge from Manuel Thetis and pulled back a ball from the by-line which Sean McClare tucked away. An exceptional 25 minutes' work was rounded off with a close- range shot from a similar pull-back from Darren Barnard almost on the whistle.
The Ipswich manager, George Burley, was realistic about his team's prospects regarding injuries to the likes of Scowcroft and Jason Cundy, and the impact of the sale of Alex Mathie to Dundee United and Mauricio Taricco to Spurs. "We're depleted. It's going to be a difficult month and we're going to have to dig deep but certainly I would have been pleased at the start of the season if you'd given us second place at the moment."
Goals: McClare (69) 0-1; Turner (90) 0-2.
Ipswich Town (3-5-2): Wright; Mowbray, Thetis, Venus; Clapham, K Dyer, Holland, Tanner, Petta; Scowcroft (Naylor, 58), Abou. Substitutes not used: Kennedy, Logan.
Barnsley: (4-4-2) Bullock; Jones, Appleby, Moses, Tinkler; Barnard, Hignett, McClare, Eaden; Burton (Turner, 65), B Dyer. Substitutes not used; Richardson, Marcelle.
Referee: M Dean (East Eastham).
Bookings: Ipswich: Tanner. Barnsley: Moses, Hignett, Barnard, Dyer.
Man of the match: Turner.
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