Ipswich Town fan Russell Claydon feels a dead rubber became a wasted opportunity

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PAUL Jewell was none too happy with how we nearly repeated our party trick of throwing away a game we were all over, but at least we ended 2011/12 with a win at the Keepmoat.

Against a relegated side clearly playing for the last time together (I’d take James Coppinger tomorrow), we initially looked like we going to run up a cricket score before it seemed most of those in blue decided to get their deckchairs out early.

One player who actually did was our club captain Grant Leadbitter, who after being pushed into a corner, finally admitted he had no intention of staying next season.

I’m afraid he never lived up to his £2.65 million price tag and the quietest captain this club is ever likely to have will, for me, forever signify the failures of the Roy Keane era.

Hopefully Leadbitter’s departure will be a turning point in moving in a new direction under Jewell, who needs to bring in a leader of men rather than a meek mouse on the pitch who wouldn’t even come out in the media during our torrid seven-game losing streak.

While the season as a whole was a wasted opportunity, so I feel was the 90 minutes in a dead rubber at the Keepmoat.

Tommy Smith, although he scored, was deployed as a makeshift left-back to allow a player who will not even be at the club next season, Ibrahima Sonko, to come back into the side.

We were told ahead of kick-off that young left-back Joe Whight, given a professional contract at the start of the season, wasn’t ready. But there he was on sitting on the bench — and I do wonder if he will ever be ready without being given a taste of Championship football at a time when there was no cost to us.

Sixteen-year-old schoolboy Byron Lawrence became the second youngest player to feature after Connor Wickham in a 10-minute cameo that I’m sure all of the 1,266 travelling fans (excellent for what the game was) would have liked to have seen at least doubled.

But in Ryan Stevenson we saw a performance from a new breed of Ipswich Town player that Jewell is looking to replicate in the transfer market this summer. He is someone who is genuinely excited to pull on the blue shirt and determined to do himself and his fans proud.

There is a tigerish nature about him that I like and with a good pre-season under his belt, hopefully he can play a big role in what is a big season for both Jewell and owner Marcus Evans next year.

Jewell said last week that maybe progress will not be measured in finishing in the top six. If you believe that you’ll believe John Terry’s knee really did flinch into Alexis Sanchez’s back involuntarily.

n WITH the editor having afforded me another two weeks, until the end of the Premier League campaign, to continue my autopsy of the season, next week I present my own colourful end-of-season awards.