IPSWICH Town resuscitated their troubled campaign with a precious and desperately-needed 1-0 victory at home to Rotherham United.

Starting the day rock bottom of the table and ten points from safety, anything less than success was unthinkable.

However, they held their nerve – just - during a frantic, nail-biting second half to give themselves hope of a miraculous escape.

Rotherham were fourth from bottom and the team sitting ten points above Town.

Maximum points were therefore crucial and they duly came thanks to a first-half winner from Portman Road debutant Will Keane.

Town’s goal came under serious threat at times and, overall, they were undoubtedly fortunate to win.

But with frayed nerves all round, they held on to keep the flickering flame of hope alive.

An added bonus was that Bolton, second from bottom, lost at Bristol City but Reading, the other side in the drop zone, defeated Nottingham Forest 2-0.

LINE-UP: Lambert made eight changes from last week’s humiliating FA Cup defeat at Accrington Stanley, handing league debuts to four of his five January signings – left-back Callum Elder, centre-half James Collins and front men Keane and Collin Quaner.

Simon Dawkins was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Matthew Pennington moved across to right-back as Jordan Spence dropped out of the 18 for the first since Lambert’s appointment.

Midfielder Cole Skuse returned from injury, making his first start since the defeat at Nottingham Forest on December 1, and Welshman Emyr Huws was back on the bench after being sidelined for an agonising 13 months.

VERDICT: This was the mother of all must-win games for Town, in terms of their lingering chances of remaining in the Championship.

The new signings gave them a fresh look and while the first half may not live long in the memory, they undoubtedly deserved their interval lead, without creating many chances.

Keane marked his home and league debut with the opening goal, having come on as a substitute at Accrington.

The Hull loanee started the move, spreading the ball out wide to Freddie Sears.

Sears’ cross found Keane but he was unable to make proper contact with his first touch.

However, the ball deflected back into his path off a defender and the striker made no mistake with his second attempt, half-volleying home from close range.

It was far from comfortable, though, and Rotherham spurned numerous opportunities to get something from the game.

Jon Taylor should have done better when Anthony Forde’s cross was accidentally flicked on by Trevoh Chalobah.

Skipper Will Vaulks then headed over at the start of the second half and Dean Gerken was forced to deal with efforts from Michael Smith and Vaulks.

Rotherham’s best chance came on the hour-mark when Smith headed over from Forde’s cross.

And in an increasingly desperate, frantic finale, Joe Mattock half-volleyed wide when he should have hit the target, at least.

Nevertheless, Town held on for a precious win and rare clean sheet.

They have undoubtedly played better football but perhaps that was inevitable, given the number of new faces in their sides, not to mention their lack of fitness.

They looked disjointed, even sluggish and ragged, at times and it will take time for those players to settle.

It’s also true that their goal led a charmed life.

They couldn’t keep the ball, gifting possession and losing headers, and that put them under mounting pressure.

However, the bottom line was the fact they won – a result they so desperately, dearly needed and, quite frankly, all that mattered.

PLAYER WATCH: The name ‘Keane’ hardly conjures up happy memories for Town fans, given the stormy reign of former boss Roy.

However, namesake Will wasted no time putting a smile on their faces with a goal on his league debut and first appearance at Portman Road.

He started and finished the move and while it was a tad fortuitous, given the way the ball fell kindly and presented him with a second opportunity, it was a tidy finish.

Earlier, the Hull loanee had shown quick feet and a neat pass to create a shooting opportunity for Skuse, which was blocked by Sean Raggett.

Town’s appeals for a handball, and penalty, fell on deaf ears.

Lambert made a change after the break, withdrawing Quaner, and Keane moved up front to lead the line on his own in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

STAR MAN: Collins was a tower of strength on his Blues debut.

He drew on his vast experience to help inspire not only the victory but also the clean sheet, organising, cajoling and winning important tackles.

His distribution out of defence was also first class.

The former West Ham man was cool and composed in an anxious situation, something that bodes well for the challenge ahead.

RATINGS (4-4-1-1): Gerken 7; Pennington 7, Chambers 7, Collins 8, Elder 7; Lankester 7 (Dawkins 73 6), Chalobah 6, Skuse 6, Sears 7 (Nsiala 90); Keane 7; Quaner 6 (Downes 65, 5). Unused subs: Bialkowski, Harrison, Bishop, Huws.

NEXT UP: Town head to one of Lambert’s former clubs, Blackburn Rovers, next Saturday.

It is the first of two away matches in a row as they go to Aston Villa - another club where Lambert managed - on January 26.

Their next game at Portman Road is against Sheffield Wednesday on February 2.