Ipswich Town did not spend a penny on new players this summer but their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace yesterday confirmed that their manager, Jim Magilton, has assembled a team rich in promise.
Jon Walters' 72nd-minute header was sufficient to secure three points for the resolute home side and put them joint top of the Championship.
Though he played on the right of midfield, Walters is primarily a striker and he showed his poaching instinct by arriving perfectly to convert Gary Roberts' left-wing cross.
"This week in training we have been working on me coming in from the right-wing position and getting headers. That cross was a dream come true," said Walters afterwards. "It's a great start for us, it's superb to be joint top of the table. There is a very good atmosphere in the squad at the moment. We are learning from each game and it is good to have that hunger in the team."
The first half was most notable for the excellent midfield performance of Ipswich's 18-year-old Owen Garvan. With Garvan to the fore, Magilton's men had the better of the early play.
After 12 minutes Walters crossed well for Alan Lee, but the striker misjudged the flight of the ball when seemingly poised to score.
Then Palace almost took the lead on 34 minutes when Stuart Green's curled free-kick drew an excellent save from Neil Alexander in the Ipswich goal.
As the half dwindled to an end the Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni needlessly charged out of his box and blocked Lee's low cross with his arm. The home crowd bayed for a red card but the referee, Andy D'Urso, decided Speroni had not prevented an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and opted for a yellow.
After the break Palace began to build some momentum and were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when the Ipswich left-back Dan Harding appeared to handle.
Then came the goal, Roberts latching onto a clever ball from Lee and standing up a delightful cross for Walters. The Palace manager, Peter Taylor, responded by sending on the former Ipswich man Shefki Kuqi and Dougie Freedman but the visitors could not get past Jason De Vos at the heart of the Ipswich defence.
Taylor was encouraged by a solid enough away performance from his side. "It's our first league defeat of the season and, hopefully, we will now have a nice period of not going through that again," he said. "I have no complaints with the effort of the team."Reuse content