I’M always optimistic – even in the face of reality.

As long as I’ve got a heartbeat we’ll keep going.

If you ask me if it’s achievable (staying up), absolutely it is.

Three very laudable and defiant soundbites from my afternoon at Portman Road.

The first from Clacton supporters’ branch stalwart Jill Lewis; the second and third from Blues boss Paul Lambert.

All three sentiments resonated with me and from my point of view, as both a supporter and reporter, I’ll always do my best to write positively about the fortunes of Ipswich Town.

However, I'm finding it impossible to be upbeat after such a catastrophic defeat against Millwall.

In terms of sheer disappointment, I didn’t think the setback against QPR would be trumped this season (when a hapless, hopeless Town lost 2-0 during Paul Hurst’s tenure).

But the Bristol City reverse in late November left me cold as Lambert’s Blues snatched defeat from the jaws of victory – leading twice before collapsing and losing 3-2.

And regrettably, Tuesday’s defeat against the Lions, by the same score, was the lowest of the low. An absolute disaster.

An afternoon that promised so much started so well.

Jack Lankester’s third-minute goal was a joy to watch, as was some of his side’s football in the first half.

There was plenty of incisive, rapid passing, with particularly impressive contributions from Lankester, Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes and Ellis Harrison.

Gilt-edged chances came and went – Freddie Sears being especially culpable – and it’s no exaggeration to say Town could have been 5-0 up. Sears alone had three opportunities and Harrison one.

But the fact they were unable to bury any of them set alarm bells ringing because defensive fragility is Ipswich’s Achilles heel.

It has been all season and, sadly, that could barely have been more apparent than during a second half in which the hosts contrived to concede three more stupid, needless goals.

All stemming from individual errors, by Luke Chambers, Jordan Spence and Matthew Pennington.

The result, coupled with Rotherham’s 2-1 victory against Preston, means Town are now ten points from safety and the fourth-from-bottom Millers (who they play in their next league game).

They’re in the most perilous of positions and their survival hopes are hanging by a thread.

Some say that thread was snipped on Tuesday.

With a heavy heart, it’s tough to disagree.

What defence can be launched to counter those who say they have no chance? That they’re dead and buried.

Yes, the first-half performance was encouraging and easy on the eye.

But Town simply don’t score enough goals, fluffing the chances they create.

They concede too many, often the product of individual or collective errors.

And while their quality of football has improved, it’s not being reflected by the thing that matters – results.

To be blunt, absolutely zero progress is being made in that respect.

So where do we go from here?

The three soundbites at the top of this piece still apply and until it’s mathematically impossible, the fight goes on.

But Tuesday felt monumental, crushing and sapping.

Far from giving themselves a shot in the arm, shell-shocked Town are on their knees - staring down the barrel at League One football and, not for the first time this season, licking their wounds after the worst-possible start to 2019.