The goals may not be flowing as freely as last season but if Ipswich are to make the promised land of the Premier League, the contribution of Daryl Murphy will be crucial.
By this stage last season, the Waterford man had already struck 17 times in the standout campaign of his career. He’s found the going tougher this time round but has still managed to find the net eight times, and his most recent effort — a low drive from 20 yards — rescued a 1-1 draw for Mick McCarthy’s men against Preston.
Failure to win saw Ipswich drop out of the top six but Murphy, while feeling Ipswich should have been given a late penalty for handball, was reasonably content with a point.
“I think it was probably a fair result,” he said. “I didn’t see the last decision there, but the lads are convinced it’s a stonewall penalty and that the Preston player literally had his hand on the ball on the ground for a few seconds, but you get those sometimes and sometimes you don’t.
“The gaffer said after the game that sometimes you have to see it out and the main thing was that we didn’t lose.”
Reflecting on his goal, Murphy said: “It was a good finish. I had a few chances and the keeper saved one of them, but I was delighted to get on the scoresheet. They gave me a lot of space to line it up so there was only one thing in my mind when I turned, and that was to shoot.”
Birmingham are also in the hunt for a play-off spot and they benefited from the luck of the Irish as they strengthened their claims significantly after winning 3-0 at promotion-hopefuls Derby.
Birmingham’s second goal came when a mishit cross from Stephen Gleeson sailed into the Derby net. The Blues are now within two points of a top-six spot.
Chris Hughton’s Brighton got their promotion bid back on track with a 1-0 win at Blackburn. A first Championship win in eight games lifted the Seagulls to fifth, to the understandable relief of Hughton.
“We had to show a far better attitude today, which we did, and it allowed us to get the result,” he said.
“It’s a big win because the performance levels have generally been okay, even in the poor run of results that we’ve had, but that is the nature of this division. Unless you’re at it every single game, then you can get beaten.
“It’s certainly good to get back to winning ways and we need to take this on again.”
In League One, Anthony Forde made one and scored one as Walsall won 3-2 at Bury.
David Norris was among the scorers as Blackpool hammered Scunthorpe 5-0, a mauling that was followed by an apology from their midfielder Stephen Dawson.
“To the fans there today, I can only apologise,” Dawson said. “We let everyone down.”
Chris Forrester also had cause for regret at the weekend as his missed penalty in stoppage-time denied Peterborough victory over Southend.
In League Two, Carl McHugh scored one and made one as Plymouth stayed top following a 3-2 win over Stevenage. Northampton only trail the Pilgrims on goal difference though after a John-Joe O’Toole header helped them to a 2-1 win at Dagenham.
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