Date: 12th August 2007 at 11:52pm
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Wednesday slumped to a shocking opening day defeat at Portman Road which proved the summer spending should have been in the direction of the defence, and not the attack.

Owls boss Brian Laws had been scouring the transfer market for a new number nine throughout the summer and got his man in the shape of Francis Jeffers just says before the start of the seasons.

But yesterday’s shocking defensive display from the boys in blue and white – or should I say, orange – proved Laws’ thoughts should have been on strengthening at the back rather than boosting the attacking options.

Laws did give a debut to ‘fox in the box’ Jeffers alongside Marcus Tudgay in attack with Deon Burton failing to be 100 per cent for the opener, while new goalkeeper Lee Grant was set for a debut to forget, and Steve Watson started in the centre of midfield.

You expect a fair bit of action for the £31.50 that was forked out for a ticket in the away end at Portman Road, and although the action was pretty much one-sided throughout, the 23,000 plus crowd got to see the opening goal of the Championship season after Lee Bullen brought down Pablo Counago on the edge of the box and gave Alan Lee the chance to open the scoring just minutes in to the new season.

And the former Rotherham man duly obliged in sending Grant the wrong way to give the hosts and early advantage.

If Town were going to score, the first minute may not have been a bad time to concede – there was, after all, more than enough time to get together and mount a serious fightback.

But the Owls problems doubled just minutes later as Lee raced away on the right and provided a deep cross over the heads of Lee Bullen and Peter Gilbert which gave Gary Roberts the chance to lash home a superb volley by Grant to the delight of the home crowd.

Wednesday were reeling, but the Owls still managed to show some of the skills that got them near to the play-offs last season as a silky passing move from one end to the other almost see Francis Jeffers go one-on-one with Ipswich new-boy Neil Alexander only for the linesman to show the offside flag.

Passes were wayward, confidence was low, and every time the hosts went forward it looked as if they’d score.

And they didn’t have to wait too long for a third, again from Lee, as the striker raced forward and launched an audacious effort towards Grant, which the new Owls stopper should have dealt with comfortably, but the ball dipped in front of Grant and sailed over him in to the back of the net.

3-0 to the good, Jim Magilton’s men took their foot off the gas somewhat and allow Wednesday in with a few half-chances to Marcus Tudgay, one which was flashed across the face of the goal and one which was straight down the throat of Alexander, and produced a sarcastic cry from the large travelling Wednesday support.

The scoreline could have so easily been worse at the break, but Wednesday went in to the break still 3-0 down, and with captain Lee Bullen paying the price of a poor display at the centre of the Wednesday defence.

Why Peter Gilbert, and arguably Lee Grant, were still on the pitch, is anyone’s guess…

Wednesday started with a bit more urgency in the second half and almost had a great chance to reduce the deficit when substitute Kenny Lunt provided a fine through ball for Jermaine Johnson to get on to but the former Bradford and Oldham man was caught offside.

At the other end, Grant’s nightmare day almost went from bad to worse as he spilled a relatively routine cross almost in to the path of Pablo Counago, but stand in skipper Richard Wood cleared the danger.

More comical defending was on tap for Ipswich’s fourth, as the Owls poured men forward in search of goals. Peter Gilbert gave away possession, not for the first time, to Jonathan Walters who in turn found the unmarked Counago in the box to make it a fabulous four for the hosts.

Wade Small and Leon Clarke were introduced late on for the Owls, with Small being used on the left – one can only assume he was being tested out for the forthcoming matches which Brunt’s banned for – and Clarke proved his doubters wrong from yards out to bag a consolation goal.

Wednesday: Grant; Simek, Bullen (Lunt), Wood, Gilbert; Johnson (Small), Whelan, Watson, Brunt; Tudgay, Jeffers (Clarke). Subs not used: Burch, Hinds.

Ipswich Town: Alexander, De Vos, Bruce, Garvan, Counago (Clarke), Miller (Legwinski), Lee (Haynes), Walters, Wright, Roberts, Harding. Subs not used: Supple, Wilnis.