I DIDN'T know whether to laugh or cry when I got home from a non-league game on Saturday afternoon and saw my eight-year-old son donning his Ipswich Town kit.

Nothing unusual about that, you might say.

Then he spun round and a certain name emblazoned across the back leapt out and slapped me across the face.


His favourite player when the red away shirt was bought last season.

Of all days to wear it and while I'd love to blame my wife, it was my fault entirely.

I picked his clothes that morning... I'm responsible for Joe Garner's heartbreaking late leveller at Wigan on Saturday.

Ok, perhaps I'm being a tad melodramatic but I'm sure the cruel, vicious irony of the Latics' scorer was not lost on any Town fan.

Especially the loyal, outstanding 886 who made the sapping trek from East Anglia to Greater Manchester.

There was something of an inevitability about the equaliser.

We've seen it so many times this season but, having been in front until the dying embers, I thought/hoped Town had done enough. Sadly not.

I wasn't at the game so can't comment on the performance but it sounds heartening and positive.

The wing-back system worked a treat, by all accounts, and the Blues battled after the early dismissal of Jonas Knudsen.

Furthermore, Town are now unbeaten in three - an unthinkable feat during the dimmer moments of this very dark season.

However, it counts for precious little in the grand scheme of things because this was a missed opportunity, heightened by Bolton's defeat at Leeds and Reading and Rotherham sharing the spoils at the Madejski Stadium.

Expressions like 'must-win' and 'six-pointer' are bandied around too freely by an enthusiastic football media but this match fitted both descriptions perfectly. That's why it felt like a defeat.

For me, Town had to pocket six points from this fixture and next week's home match against Reading.

Anything less and it would be curtains. Goodnight, Vienna.

Of course, Paul Lambert will never wave the white flag. Rightly so.

Mission impossible? No chance.

The manager has to maintain a positive, upbeat rhetoric and, to be fair, you could argue the damage is no worse than on Saturday morning. Nine points and an inferior goal difference.

However, the games are fast running out.

The countdown is nearly into single figures with tough matches at West Brom and Bristol City - both residing in the play-off zone - to come before mid-March.

How different the mood and mindset would have been had Town held on - 'only' seven points adrift, heading into next weekend's pivotal meeting with the Royals.

Still, the players have to dust themselves down and go again.

As said earlier, it sounds like there were genuine positives and, from a personal point of view, there was plenty of food for thought when giving our car a long-overdue wash on Sunday morning.

On the plus side, I had a brand new piece of material to clean it with - red and bearing the name Garner.