since 1878

Sunderland (2) 2 - 1 (1) Ipswich Town

Division 1 1998-99

Sunday, January 17, 1999

Referee: E Wolstenholme

Manager: Unknown

Stadium of Light

Attendance: 39,835

Manager: George Burley

Match Number: 2780


 Matt Holland 






















Match Report

Sunderland 2 Ipswich Town 1

NIALL QUINN, whose calm reaction on the pitch following Sunderland's painful play-off defeat at Wembley in May set the tone for this season's promotion campaign, made success even more of a certainty with the two goals which saw off one their nearest challengers yesterday.

Sunderland's lead over second-placed Bradford stretches to 10 points and for everyone outside the North-East, it is merely a question of who finishes second. Even the most nervous home supporter will be optimistic of Peter Reid's team emulating Middlesbrough's achievement last season of a League Cup final and automatic promotion.

This was a difficult result to stomach for George Burley's Ipswich, who spent their day off on Saturday watching Bradford and Bolton join Birmingham between themselves and the runaway leaders.

Purposeful on the break throughout and possessing the outstanding player in Kieron Dyer, they outpointed the home team on corners and shots but failed to add to a wonderful first-half strike from their captain, Matt Holland.

Reid acknowledged that something would have to go "majorly wrong" for Sunderland to miss out now but added: "I was nervous and edgy because they put on a hell of a performance. It was a good football match but it was never comfortable."

A suspiciously makeshift Ipswich, particularly in the defensive line-up, arrived with 17-year-old Titus Bramble deputising for the suspended Tony Mowbray but the latter's know-how and aerial presence was sorely missed when Quinn gave Sunderland a 27th-minute lead with a far-post header.

The goal was classic Sunderland and classic Quinn: Allan Johnston checked inside his marker on the left and curled an inswinging cross for Quinn to outjump Mark Venus. England under-21 goalkeeper Richard Wright could only palm the ball against the underside of the crossbar on its way in.

Seven minutes later, Quinn doubled Sunderland's advantage, although this time he was assisted by some uncharacteristic hesitancy in the division's tightest defence.

Wright appeared to have ample time to tidy up the loose ball after parrying a cross-shot from Lee Clark but Holland's attempt to kick the ball out of his reach misfired badly. Quinn accepted the gift with a fierce left-foot shot which entered the net via Holland's forehead.

The Ipswich response was swift. Credit goes to Richard Naylor, whose perceptive header when Venus crossed helped to create the opportunity, and Dutch wing-back Fabian Wilnis for the pass, but Holland's 20-yard shot was still rising when it met the underside of the crossbar.

The hot topic at the Stadium of Light was whether Holland - who almost repeated the trick just before half-time - should have been on the pitch at that stage. His tackle on Alex Rae, four minutes earlier, was airborne and referee Eddie Wolstenholme may have taken Rae's lack of injury into consideration in showing only a yellow card.

The referee continued his lenient approach by lecturing Rae, who had already been cautioned, for a crude challend on Venus but of more concern to the majority of the 39,835 crowd was a glaring miss by Kevin Phillips.

Glanced in by Quinn, Phillips betrayed a lack of sharpness after his four-month absence by side-footing a yard wide. Ipswich continued to press for a clear-cut opportunity but when Jamie Clapham curled it on to Naylor's forehead, he headed directly into Thomas Sorensen's midriff.

Daily Telegraph

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