EVEN the most skilled wordsmiths around the University of Bolton Stadium are struggling to come up with a suitable description for what is happening at Wanderers right now.

‘Drama’ went out of the window a long time ago, and even ‘crisis’ barely seems strong enough to sum up the events of a truly testing week, which ended with a performance devoid of any redeemable features.

Yet more pay issues, players on strike, High Court reprieves and takeover toing-and-froing have grabbed the headlines as a club financially abandoned by its owner clings on to life by its fingernails.

Some of those left behind to ensure this game went ahead had still not been paid as they worked into the early hours of Saturday morning to fix a massive IT crash which left CCTV and ticketing systems paralysed.

Others wore the toll of a stressful time on their faces as they tried manfully to maintain the façade of a Championship club operating as normal on matchday.

To quote one employee, staff are on their knees. And the same can be said of Phil Parkinson’s squad.

Whereas last weekend’s victory at QPR briefly ignited a flicker of hope for survival, this defeat extinguished it altogether. On Grand National day it could be more fitting to say Wanderers’ race has now been run.

Six games remain but an eight-point chasm between Parkinson’s side and 21st place now looks insurmountable and, like Ipswich, it is time the club start to consider life in the third tier next season.

There have been precious few occasions in the last eight months where effort, rather than quality, looked to be Wanderers’ major downfall but that seemed the case in a wretched opening 45 minutes.

Two Colin Quaner goals gave Ipswich a comfortable half-time lead, leaving the vast majority of a near-18,000 crowd snarling at what they had just seen. Things improved marginally after the break and a consolation was scored deep into stoppage time, even then by visiting defender Josh Emmanuel, but as results elsewhere stacked against them it is impossible to view this as a last chance blown.

Parkinson has come in for stick on plenty of occasions this season because his side has played overtly-direct and unimaginative football, culminating in a suffocating lack of goals. There was no evidence to support otherwise here, with rudimentary mistakes creeping in with alarming regularity.

Though it has not always shone through in results, Parkinson and his staff actually take pride in their preparation. And until recently, the Lostock training ground remained relatively unaffected by the problems faced by the club elsewhere, even when players were not being paid.

But that has changed in the last couple of months. Not only have the gates been locked when food, water and fuel ran out, but sessions have been persistently interrupted by team meetings to try and explain the latest salary issue. The bubble has been punctured.

This week Parkinson had the ultimate disruption as players finally downed tools in support of their colleagues – and so it was through gritted teeth that the Bolton boss had to admit his team was not properly prepared for their opponents.

Though he may agree with the stance taken by the squad, there was no disguising his frustration that a lack of preparation had been the primary cause of defeat.

Fans have not been shy to criticise Parkinson’s tactics for the last two seasons, yet in this case it was a lack of information and direction that seems to have been their undoing.

Certainly, Wanderers’ defending for Quaner’s two goals will be heavily analysed as the players prepare for a quick turnaround against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

The opener emanated from an unchallenged right-flank cross from Luke Chambers to which the German striker beat David Wheater to bury the ball into the bottom corner.

The second was even worse. Myles Kenlock strode through midfield to deliver a pass to Quaner on the edge of the box, and with Wheater and Mark Beevers still six yards away he spun to strike a low shot past Matthews which bounced off the inside of the post.

Things improved marginally after half time. Will Buckley shanked a far-post volley and sub Erhun Oztumer struck a shot from the edge of the box which landed straight in the grateful arms of Bart Bialkowski.

Ipswich hardly looked like losing control, however, and it was only in the 94th minute that another flowing move instigated by Oztumer ended with Emmanuel inadvertently heading the ball into his own net, despite an attempted clearance by James Collins.

In the end, the Hawkeye system gave the goal. Without the work of unpaid staff into the wee hours of the morning, that was one of the many computer systems which would not have been in operation.

Everywhere you look at Wanderers these days there is evidence of how the club has been left financially high and dry. Worse still, there is no obvious timescale as to when this nightmare will end.

Patience has already expired among supporters, players and the part-time staff who have grown weary of the continual grind. Others may soon follow.

Parkinson and his team have been fighting a losing battle and a repeat of last season’s miraculous escape looks to be fanciful in the extreme.

But with the tanks of goodwill now empty around the town, the club is slowly and painfully shutting down. Months of unpaid bills have stacked up to the point that it is no longer possible to function normally.

Without a new owner in place soon it is only a matter of time before something snaps and cannot be repaired.

There are half a dozen games to go and 18 points to be played for but Bolton’s battle off the pitch all of a sudden seems more important.

Relegation, in short, seems to be the least of Wanderers’ worries.