The timing of this win seemed unlikely. After all, the side from Norfolk were second from bottom of the Championship. Three points lifted them up only six places but will have given the Canaries a far greater psychological boost.
Clearly, coping with relegation from the Premiership has left its scars on Nigel Worthington's men. They carried over from last season their awful away form of zero wins, and it took their fourth away fixture of this campaign for them to finally break that particular duck.
But Norwich have a fine recent record against Ipswich, having done the double over them two seasons ago, and they are now unbeaten against the Suffolk side at Portman Road in more than seven years. However, on this occasion, the Canaries were helped on their way to winning by the sending-off after 18 minutes of Sito Castro. As the Ipswich full-back chased after Kevin Lisbie just outside the penalty area, there appeared to be only the slightest contact that sent the striker, who is on loan from Charlton Athletic, to the ground. That was Joe Royle's initial view, although the Ipswich manager later amended that to believing there was no contact at all. After consulting his assistant, the referee showed the Spaniard, just back from suspension, the red card.
Royle said he will appeal against the decision, especially as he felt his case was strengthened by the ball running through to the goalkeeper rather than being close to Lisbie's feet, but there was no doubt that Norwich instantly gained the upper hand.
Worthington claimed later that his men should have been well ahead by half-time. That the game was still goalless at the break was down to a combination of fine goalkeeping by Lewis Price, although he was later at fault for the goal, some poor finishing and a whistle in the crowd.
With 24 minutes gone, an excellent saving tackle by Richard Naylor on Lisbie appeared at first to be all the work of the Ipswich defender. That he had time to execute it was actually down to a whistle from an Ipswich supporter, causing Lisbie to delay his shot long enough for Naylor to recover and Worthington, for one, was none too happy afterwards.
Further chances came and went for the visitors, with Price producing one outstanding save seven minutes before the break when Youssef Safri broke through the defence and hit a left-footed shot that the goalkeeper parried clear.
Yet, six minutes after half-time, Price undid his good work. A long pass to substitute Darren Huckerby lured Price out of his goal and he then barged into his defender Jay McEveley. On the edge of the area Huckerby composed himself before finding the empty net. "Lewis made a right Horlicks for their goal," admitted Royle. But it took none of the sweetness of victory away from Norwich.
Goal: Huckerby (51) 0-1
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Price; Sito, Naylor, De Vos, McEveley; Magilton, Garvan (Richards, h-t), Horlock, Currie; Bowditch (Peters, 68), Parkin. Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), McDonald, Juan.
Norwich City (4-3-1-2): Green; Colin, Doherty, Davenport, Drury; Marney (Huckerby, h-t), Safri, Hughes; McVeigh (Henderson, 79); Lisbie (Brennan, 71), Ashton Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Fleming.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Booked: Ipswich McEveley, Garvan; Norwich Hughes, Lisbie, Davenport. Sent off: Ipswich Sito.
Man of the match: Huckerby
Attendance: 29,184.Reuse content