THE great escape is on.

That's the stirring message from Ipswich Town hero Freddie Sears, following his side's long-overdue and much-needed victory against Wigan Athletic.

Sears grabbed the winner in Saturday's 1-0 success at Portman Road - the Blues' first win since sinking Swansea City in October.

They remain bottom of the Championship but now five points from safety, heading into another big home game next weekend, against Sheffield United.

“It felt brilliant," said the in-form Sears, who has notched five times since Paul Lambert took over as manager in late October.

“It was a tough afternoon – cold, wet and windy – but the scenes at the end were special.

“It feels like a big turning point and now it’s down to us to back it up and go again.

“It was important to get the monkey off our back.

“You start to sound like a broken record, playing well and not getting the results, but we knew it had to turn.

“Now it could hopefully be the start of something special.

“It's definitely achievable (bridging the gap).

“Someone said before that if you were eight points off the play-offs you’d fancy your chances of getting in there.

“It’s going to be tough but stranger things have happened.

“We’re not getting carried away and thinking we’re home and dry but if we can go on a run and win more games we’ll be fine.

"The great escape is on."

Sears said his goal was extra special as it was a match-winner.

His previous strikes came in draws against Preston and Reading while he netted twice against Bristol City - only for his side to lose 3-2.

“In those situations you try and get the ball on target and hope for the best," said the 29-year-old, referring to his 67th-minute goal which fortuitously deflected past keeper Christian Walton.

“Thankfully it went in the back of the net and what a feeling.

“The fans erupted and everyone was buzzing.

“My previous goals felt brilliant at the time but meant nothing afterwards because we didn’t win.

“This was the opposite and there’s no better feeling than scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory.

“I was delighted and will continue to do all I can for the team.

“It probably wasn’t the prettiest of games but we got the goal and won the game. Everyone’s delighted.

“The manager has given me confidence.

"He’s put a lot of belief in me and been good with me since day one.

“When a new manager comes in and you get the impression he likes you, he probably gets a bit more out of you.

“He’s been great with me and all the boys.

"We’re playing with confidence and you don’t look at us and think we’re a bottom-of-the-league team.

“Now it’s down to us to push on and try and get more results."

Sears was also delighted his team kept a clean sheet - their first since a goalless draw against Bolton Wanderers on September 22.

“We needed it," said the former Colchester United man.

“The back five were brilliant and stayed strong to the end.

“It was tense but we needed to win that game.

"It was massive and the relief at the final whistle was clear for everyone to see.

“We’re bottom of the league and the fans have been brilliant.

“We’ve just got to keep giving them things to sing about and hope they stick with us."