"STATISTICS are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.”

So said American academic Aaron Levenstein.

It’s one of my favourite quotes and while he clearly wasn’t talking about Ipswich Town (at least, I don’t think he was) it’s an expression that could be applied to Paul Lambert’s Blues.

Look at the stats.

Town played the 23rd game of their 46-game season on Saturday, drawing 1-1 at home to Sheffield United.

It was the halfway point of what, in all honesty, has been a pretty sobering few months.

From a possible 69 points, they have a measly 15. Not enough.

They’ve only won twice all season, against Swansea and Wigan (last Saturday). Not enough.

They’ve only won once in a dozen matches at Portman Road. Not enough.

They’re the second-lowest scorers in the division with a paltry 19 goals. Only Bolton Wanderers have less, with 15. Not enough.

And in terms of goals conceded, they’ve got the joint-third worst record in the division.

Town have shipped 38 – the same as Preston North End. Millwall have leaked 39 and Sheffield Wednesday 40. Again, not good enough.

I’m sure you’re getting the picture… that the cold, hard facts make ugly, grim reading.

And yet, despite that, what those stats conceal is the fact that things are most definitely, without question, on the up.

Saturday’s entertaining draw was proof of that, against a Blades side that were sitting third in the Championship table.

When Town have met high-fliers before, they’ve played second fiddle to the likes of Leeds, West Brom, Boro and Derby.

But after an admittedly slow start, that certainly wasn’t the case against United.

Lambert’s Ipswich are competitive again and while they’re far from perfect, obviously, they have something about them.

They’re more solid and settled and look like a team that will grind out points, pinch wins and – crucially – start climbing the table.

Key players throughout the spine of their team are finding form.

Centre-half Matthew Pennington was my man-of-the-match for the second game in a row, midfielder Trevoh Chalobah is becoming more and more instrumental – driving forward with the ball and making fewer mistakes – and Town now pose more threat up front thanks to the in-form Freddie Sears and returning Ellis Harrison.

The latter scored on Saturday and, with all due respect, looks much more of a target man than Jordan Roberts and Kayden Jackson.

Town remain bottom but, in the space of two weekends, they’ve slashed the gap to safety from eight points to four.

Saturday was particularly satisfying, given the defeats for Bolton, Millwall, Reading, Rotherham and Wigan.

Five sides just above them in the table – five sides now within touching distance, heading into the second half of the campaign.

Town’s half-term report would certainly include the expression “must do better”. As the stats confirm.

But credit where credit’s due.

They’re knuckling down, righting wrongs and, without any scrap of doubt, heading in the right direction.

Let's hope the upward curve continues in 2019.