Ipswich Town 1 Watford 2: Boothroyd forsakes style to send Watford top

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The Independent Football

And so there it went, just like that. The last unbeaten home record in the Football League this season was lost with scarcely a whimper. The snarling and the attitude all came from Watford. To wit, four yellow cards for Aidy Boothroyd's victorious men, none for Ipswich.

The attractive football that has been so pleasing on the eye in this campaign from Ipswich Town was also absent. Jason De Vos, the Ipswich captain, could accept defeat, even though he said "I hate losing", but not in this weak manner. "This is a bitter pill to swallow," added the Canadian centre-half. "I'm very disappointed to lose at home. If you lose when you play below your standards that's hard to take."

This was a collective failure on Ipswich's behalf, as they faced up to Watford's straightforward, belt and braces approach. Boothroyd's style does not change and the home side would have been aware of what they were about to face. However, forewarned was not forearmed and they never looked like playing their way out of the trouble they faced when going a goal down, to Tommy Smith's header, after little more than half-an-hour.

At Ipswich there is no Plan B when things get worse, as they did when Nathan Ellington was unmarked eight yards out and finished past Stephen Bywater. Jonathan Walters tapped in later but they never threatened an equaliser.

It was not an exercise in making friends by Watford, despite Boothroyd saying he loves the way Ipswich play the game. In the same breath he reminded people he used to work down the road at Norwich City.

This win, with Al Bangura impressing in midfield, sent the Hornets back to the top of the Championship, a place Boothroyd said "he hated to be." With West Bromwich Albion losing, Watford are in charge of the division again, but Boothroyd's reasoning was that when they were top earlier this season, other teams simply refused to play an open game against them.

Not that the Hertfordshire side were playing into Ipswich's hands at Portman Road. Boothroyd said: "For that performance I would give it 10 out of 10 for winning, and five out of 10 for style." Time-wasting, after going two up, was top of their agenda, much to the exasperation of the home fans, even if the Ipswich manager, Jim Magilton, and De Vos refused to complain about the tactics. In defeat, Ipswich might have learnt a thing or two if they are to keep their promotion hopes alive.

Goals: Smith (33) 0-1; Ellington (56) 0-2; Walters (71) 1-2.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Bywater; Wright, Bruce, De Vos, Harding; Norris, Miller (A Lee, h-t), Garvan (Sumulikoski, 60), Quinn; Walters, Counago (Haynes, 60). Substitutes not used: Colgan (gk), Naylor

Watford (4-4-2): R Lee; Mariappa, Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith (Kabba, 82), Eustace, Bangura, Ainsworth (Stewart, 54); Ellington (O'Toole, 76), Henderson. Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), Doyley

Referee: A D'Urso (Hampshire)

Booked:Watford Eustace, Henderson, Bromby, Bangura.

Man of the match: Bangura.

Attendance: 24,227