Ipswich Town 0 Hull City 0: Noble's intent is not enough

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The Independent Football

Something positive came out of this almost endless, grindingly negative game. At least both teams have now got a point. The season is far too young to be depressed about a few early setbacks. But both sides had lost their opening three games.

There had been some justification for Hull's manager, Phil Parkinson, feeling that his team had been a bit unfortunate in their early performances. On the other hand, his Ipswich counterpart, Jim Magilton, could not even fall back on that tenuous excuse after a 3-1 defeat by Leicester City was a generous reflection of their performance. They had been dreadful.

Somewhat in desperation Magilton signed two teenage midfield players on loan, Simon Walton, from Charlton Athletic, and Mark Noble, from West Ham. He decided yesterday to save his young goalkeeper, Shane Supple, from further damage to his confidence (he had conceded six goals in those first three matches) and replaced him with Lewis Price.

Apart from an elusive run down the right side followed by an accurate centre by Ipswich's Nick Forster that saw Alan Lee head a shade high of the far post, there was not a lot in the first half to suggest that either side could complain about their predicament.

Ipswich's central defenders, Richard Naylor and Jason De Vos, dangerously dwelt on the ball in possession and in vulnerable situations. Indeed, they were both fortunate when, after 25 tedious minutes, Nick Barmby, playing his first full game since a hamstring injury last January, slipped beyond them both, only to make a poor connection.

Any expectation that Ipswich would tighten up defensively or Hull take advantage of the continuing indiscretions were lost in muddled intentions and a sad absence of anyone capable of standing back and making sense of it all. Even the vastly experienced Barmby could not do much untangling.

At least Ipswich could claim that there was unfamiliarity in midfield. Noble was industrious, but that was not the game's most pressing need. In his favour, though, he did attempt a cheeky lob over the Hull goalkeeper, Boaz Myhill, which failed by a few inches.

Hull's opportunities were hard-won and softly finished. After 66 minutes Ryan France turned the ball low across the penalty area, but Dean Marney tamely drove it directly at Price. Magilton sent on Danny Haynes to replace Lee and certainly there was more fire in the Ipswich attack, without actually igniting much more hope.

Magilton may not have realised that the amazingly supportive Ipswich fans are suffering the club's worst start for 50 years. Hearing him say: "We must build on this result and go forward - it was satisfying to keep a clean sheet," hardly sounded like a promise. And Parkinson was pushing a point too saying he was "delighted that the players responded to their situation".