Saturday 14 December 2019

McCarthy woe as Ipswich play-off bid falls short

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The promotion hopes of Mick McCarthy's Ipswich disappeared on Saturday as a loss at Burnley ended any chance of securing a play-off berth.

An Ipswich squad that includes Stephen Hunt, Paul Green, Daryl Murphy and Irish-qualified Luke Chambers took just one point from their last three matches.

Roy Keane was present at Bournemouth to watch the Cherries dismantle Nottingham Forest 4-1 but results elsewhere put paid to both clubs' play-off chances.

Derry man Eunan O'Kane and veteran Ian Harte were involved for the hosts in the victory over a Forest group which included Donegal's Stephen McLaughlin, with Simon Cox on the bench.

There will be still be extensive Irish involvement in the play-offs, however.

Derby will finish in third position and the impressive Jeff Hendrick scored a brace as they beat Watford 4-2.

QPR rested Richard Dunne and introduced Kevin Doyle as a late sub for their draw with a Millwall side that claimed a crucial point in their battle against the drop – good news for their Irish quartet David Forde, Shaun Williams, Alan Dunne and on-loan Owen Garvan.

BATTLE

The battle for the final two play-off places is down to just four teams.

Wigan looked safe but they surprisingly crashed 2-0 at home to relegation-threatened Blackpool – with a goal and an assist for Andy Keogh – and have dropped to sixth ahead of their game in hand with Birmingham tomorrow.

Reading jumped into fifth with victory at Doncaster capped by a remarkable solo run and assist by Irish centre-half Alex Pearce for their insurance goal to make it 3-1.

Brighton are one point outside the play-off places after they relegated Yeovil on Friday, with loan pair Stephen Ward and Keith Andrews hoping for favours on the final day next Saturday.

Blackburn require a miraculous set of results from eighth spot to creep into the shoot-out.

At the bottom, it's equally tense. Barnsley, who started Liam Lawrence and Stephen Dawson, will join Yeovil in League One after losing at Middlesbrough.

Darren Randolph and Callum Reilly's Birmingham are under serious pressure going into their game in hand against Wigan as they are now in the drop zone after being turned over by Leeds.

Paul Keegan and Enda Stevens' Doncaster are on 44 points, with the Millwall crew on 45 along with Charlton and Blackpool in control of their destiny on 46 thanks to Keogh's weekend heroics.

In League One, Irish pair Joe Dunne and Graham Kavanagh had contrasting fortunes.

Dunne's Colchester secured safety with a 4-1 victory over Brentford, while Kavanagh's Carlisle suffered a 1-0 home loss to Oldham, leaving them four points off safety.

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