Bent delivers while Royle prays he is not poached

Ipswich Town 2 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online

Ipswich Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers are bonded by having tasted life in the Premiership in relatively recent times. For now, though, that is where the similarities end.

Ipswich Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers are bonded by having tasted life in the Premiership in relatively recent times. For now, though, that is where the similarities end.

Ipswich, cash-strapped and still vulnerable if Charlton Athletic today make an improved bid for Darren Bent, are flying following an accomplished fourth successive home victory.

Their latest victims have not won in the league since their relegation and cannot win away. The last time they returned home with full points was from a 3-0 Easter Monday romp at Norwich City two seasons ago.

The closeness of the scoreline kept things interesting at Portman Road but there was considerably more than that between the teams.

"I thought we were outstanding," the Ipswich manager, Joe Royle said. "We played with great verve and are now averaging two goals a game."

He added: "We haven't played at our best yet and I'm disappointed we haven't been better away, because we might have been top. But we are getting better."

Ipswich are reported to have turned down £3m last week for Bent, the man who punished a bad miss by Kenny Miller by heading home Jim Magilton's 29th minute centre.

Royle will be happy if his phone stays silent until tonight's closure of the transfer window, adding: "We've turned down one bid. I can't predict what other teams are going to do in the next few hours but I thought that Darren was absolutely outstanding."

Wolves, who had earlier also seen Shaun Newton squander a clear opening, were nevertheless under such threat as to have flirted with the possibility of going four down.

Before Tommy Miller had stepped up to convert a penalty awarded for a joint challenge by Naylor and Joleon Lescott on Shefki Kuqi early in the second half, the spot-kick expert had rattled the underside of the bar with an effort from the edge of the area. Shortly after that, Kuqi also shook the post from close range from Bent's cross-shot.

Injury-hit Wolves had plenty of the play after Seyi Olofanjana's free diving header to Naylor's free-kick, only for lack of invention to cost them dear on a ground where they hit back spectacularly to win 4-2 some 18 months ago.

"It's a tough period for us," admitted Dave Jones. "We didn't do enough over the 90 minutes to come away with anything and it would have been pinching it if we had scored an equaliser.

"We never got a grip of the game. Too many passes went astray and we didn't show the determination we normally do until we were two down."

Ipswich (4-4-2): Davis; Diallo, De Vos, Richard Naylor, Wilnis; Miller, Magilton (Dinning, 70), Horlock, Westlake; Bent, Kuqi. Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Counago, Bowditch, Barron. Booked: Wilnis.

Wolves (4-4-2): Jones; Clyde (Sturridge, 67), Craddock, Lescott, Lee Naylor (Andrews, 85); Newton, Ince, Olofinjana, Cameron (Cooper, HT); Kenny Miller, Clarke. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Lowe. Booked: Ince.

Referee: P Crossley.

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