since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 0 - 1 (1) Bolton Wanderers

Division 1 1996-97

Saturday, March 15, 1997

Referee: R Furnandiz

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 16,187

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2677























Match Report

Ipswich Town 0 Bolton Wanderers 1

ANOTHER week, another three points towards an immediate return to the Premiership. It will take a far better side than Ipswich to extend Bolton.

This was not the flamboyant Bolton of the previous week's 7-0 demolition of Swindon but the practical, professional edge of a side with recent top-flight experience. They did enough and no more to beat Ipswich.

That said more about Ipswich's promotion hopes and the standard of Division One than anything regarding the Burnden Park outfit. The home side hardly looked like contenders, despite their previous unbeaten run of six victories and four draws, and the overall fare was stodgy and uninspiring.

Bolton were predictably unchanged from the side who had scored a magnificent seven against Swindon the previous week; Ipswich awarded striker Neil Gregory a first start in over a year and welcomed back Mick Stockwell and Gus Uhlenbeek from injury.

The visitors had revenge for motivation. When the runaway Division One leaders were below strength in December because of international calls Ipswich came away from Burnden Park with a 2-1 victory.

That was the herald of a 10-match unbeaten run this year during which they had garnered 22 points from a possible 30. On such form Ipswich dominated the opening quarter, hustling Bolton out of their possession game and playing some inventive football of their own. It lacked anything like an incisive finishing touch, however.

The measure of Ipswich's domination was that Bolton, with 80 League goals to their credit already, did not get to test Richard Wright until the 26th minute. But to what effect. The goalkeeper, 19, could only parry Alan Thompson's long-range shot and Nathan Blake then crossed for the predatory John McGinlay to head his 26th goal of the season.

Wanderers began to look more like a side destined for an immediate return to the Premiership as they settled and snuffed out a lightweight Ipswich attack. The disappointing standard of the first half, however, prompted doubts as to whether either side would fare particularly well at a higher level.

The opening to the second half emphasised Ipswich's shortcomings. Mauricio Taricco won the ball on the edge of the area only to play into an empty space before Uhlenbeek's cross sailed harmlessly over the goalline.

Their propensity to give the ball away in their own half also produced constant danger but after another such lapse Bolton substitute John Sheridan could only shoot straight at Wright. Ipswich did manage to bundle the ball into the net but it was correctly disallowed for a sandwich challenge on the goalkeeper by Taricco and James Scowcroft.

That Ipswich featured more in the second half was because of complacency creeping into Bolton's play rather than any improvement from the home side. Premiership clubs may add the new Bolton stadium to their travel arrangements next season but not Portman Road.

Daily Telegraph

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