Miller shifts Ipswich into gear

Ipswich Town 6 - Nottingham Forest 0
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The Independent Football

In his programme notes, Joe Royle seemed desperate to remind supporters that a team, and with that he meant his own Ipswich Town side, does not become bad overnight. It was cold comfort for those that had seen the push for automatic promotion, and indeed the Championship title, seemingly derailed by three successive defeats at an important point in the season.

In his programme notes, Joe Royle seemed desperate to remind supporters that a team, and with that he meant his own Ipswich Town side, does not become bad overnight. It was cold comfort for those that had seen the push for automatic promotion, and indeed the Championship title, seemingly derailed by three successive defeats at an important point in the season.

But against a lacklustre Nottingham Forest side yesterday, they ended their barren spell with a confident six-goal victory, the manner of their win showing that their goal drought was over but still leaving more important questions as to whether the Championship title would be making its way to East Anglia come May.

"When the first goal went in, you heard a lot of hissing as the pressure came out of the players," Royle said. "It is a massive confidence boost but I am not getting carried away. But I do not want to go over the top. The way that we played and kept the ball was very impressive. There were so many good things from that game."

After 27 minutes of playing the patient game, Ipswich found the breakthrough, just their third goal in five games, as their defender Richard Naylor headed the home side into the lead after drifting into the penalty area unchallenged to seize upon captain Jim Magilton's dangerous inswinging corner.

Ipswich again surged past their visitors, as Shefki Kuqi's header was only palmed by Paul Gerrard into the path of midfielder Ian Westlake, who tapped home on 35 minutes.

It would be only the most pessimistic of Ipswich fans who would have denied that the points were theirs five minutes into the second half, Darren Bent pulling his ball back for the midfielder Tommy Miller, who fired home confidently as Ipswich looked set to inflict Gary Megson's second league defeat at the helm of Nottingham Forest.

But for added measure, three more were piled on in quick succession. First, the Forest defender Wes Morgan scythed down Bent for a penalty, which Miller converted on 64 minutes. Three minutes later, Kuqi sent the crowd into raptures as he scrambled home a fifth and Bent duly obliged those demanding a sixth on 71 minutes as he shot low under a helpless Gerrard.

And as Ipswich eased off the pressure so as not to completely humiliate their opponents, the crowd entertained themselves with a rare Mexican wave as Portman Road revelled in the unexpected carnival atmosphere.

"We have to accept this and hope it is a one-off," Megson said. "But we looked very sluggish at times. Hopefully we can put this behind us and focus on the next 10 games."

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