IPSWICH Town produced a grandstand finish but were unable to snatch a dramatic late equaliser in tonight’s 2-1 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion.

It was new boss Paul Lambert’s first loss since taking the reins, following back-to-back draws against Preston and Reading.

It was also a result that kept the Blues anchored to the foot of the Championship table, with just one victory from 18 games.

The statistics makes grim reading but in terms of the overall picture, there are undoubtedly positives to cling to. Green shoots of recovery.

After a sub-standard first half, Town improved after the break.

They played with energy and enthusiasm but also produced more quality.

Lambert appears to have re-energised his players and against a lesser side, they might have been rewarded.

Certainly the supporters seem to be buying into the new regime.

For the first time in what seems months, possibly years, Portman Road was a cauldron of noise again. Just like the old days.

Lambert’s rallying cries, desperately trying to reconnect his team with the club’s long-suffering fanbase, were a key factor in that.

So too, clearly, were the slashed ticket prices.

Both helped create a vastly-improved atmosphere under the lights, with a bumper crowd of 22,995 turning out, hoping to play their part in a much-needed Town win.

Alas, that wasn’t to be but it wasn’t for the want of trying.

That said, there was no doubting the visitors deserved their interval lead.

“Men against boys” was the verdict of former Ipswich striker Jon Walters, pulling no punches in the Sky TV studio.

The Baggies undoubtedly looked more comfortable on the ball, moving it with zip and purpose, and it was no surprise when they nosed in front.

It was another soft goal from Town’s point of view, with the ball played from left to right before being swung in by Matt Phillips.

Kieran Gibbs headed it back across the danger zone – Jordan Spence should have done better – and Jay Rodriguez prodded home from close range, taking advantage of sluggish defending from Matt Pennington.

Having paid their visitors too much respect in the first half, Town improved after the break.

After huffing and puffing but showing little quality, they found another gear and played with tempo and urgency.

Admittedly, genuine chances were still at a premium but the contest remained on a knife-edge going into the final quarter.

That was until the Baggies grabbed their second on 77 minutes, raiding to the edge of the area where Phillips slipped the ball to Harvey Barnes.

From the right, the Leicester City loanee cut inside before drilling inside the near post.

To be fair, Town kept battling and threw themselves a lifeline courtesy of a bizarre late consolation.

Freddie Sears’ cross took a deflection before an appalling touch from Tosin Adarabioyo.

Substitute Kayden Jackson found himself in on goal and coolly slotted home.

Town finished with a flourish, earning a couple of corners, and Jack Lankester struck the outside of the left-hand post from a free-kick, after a strong run from fellow substitute Teddy Bishop.

In the end, it wasn’t to be but Town will hope to carry on where they left off when Bristol City visit Portman Road on Wednesday.