since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 2 - 0 (0) Coventry City

FA Carling Premiership 2000-01

Saturday, April 21, 2001

Referee: G Barber

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,612

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2899

























Match Report

Town back in Europe!

I Don't believe it! Ipswich marched into Europe today with another win, this time dispensing of Coventry City 2-0 at Portman Road.

WE'RE ALL GOING ON A EUOPEAN TOUR!! It's official! And I'm not talking summer hols here. What an unbelievable achievement. It's time to dig out the passports and check their validity, as the mighty tractor convoy will making its way over to Europe next season. Another three points, this time at home to Coventry, have confirmed the qualification of Ipswich into at least the UEFA Cup, while the Champion's league is still a realistic aim. It is hard to keep our feet on the ground, as things continue to get better and better. Goals from Martijn Reuser and Jermaine Wright did the damage for Town today, and plunged the beleaguered Coventry team closer to the dreaded 1st division drop door. You have to feel a bit sorry for Coventry. To be fair to them, there didn't look to be 15 places difference between to the two teams, but with other results going against them, it looks like the West Midlander's will be setting off on a Nationwide tour next season. When it mattered, Burley's boys managed to use their superiority to full effect, and cruise to another impressive win. A carnival atmosphere took over at Portman Road in the second half, and there was no way Gordon Strachan's team was going to spoil the party. Burley gave us a wave, Mowbray gave us a wave, Sheepshanks gave us a wave, and even the new South stand gave us a wave as Town marched back into European football for the first time since 1982. Some of Town's greatest ever players were on the pitch at half time, and Kevin Beattie proudly took another award after being voted the greatest player to wear the famous blue shirt. But it was the current team who deservedly stole the show, with another skilful and professional performance that kept Town in 3rd position.

The starting line up was more or less as expected, with one major surprise. Richard Wright was missing as the teams lined up, and despite being named in the team, he was replaced on the field by Keith Brannigan. Ironically, one of Brannigan's only other appearance in the first team, was against Coventry in the Worthington Cup. Jon McGreal returned to the centre of defence, with Venus being relegated to the bench. The match kicked off, and in the first five or ten minutes, it was the sky blues who were looking more dangerous. They pushed forward in numbers, and put Town under pressure every time we had the ball. However, they didn't create any real chances, and it was Town who looked most likely to score as the game went on. Matt Holland went close with a header, and Alun Armstrong fired wide from the edge of the box after a nice move involving Reuser and Hriedarsson. But the game never got the chance to flow, mainly because of a referee who blew up at the slightest hint of contact between players. After 20 minutes Town made the vital breakthrough. Jamma swung in a good cross after finding space down the left flank. It eluded the intended recipient Holland, but thankfully Reuser was close behind to slot home from ten yards. It was Reuser's fourth goal of the season, and by his standards it was a bit boring. He normally only scores from at least 30 yards. But the rejuvenated Dutchman looked delighted with his latest effort, and so were the crowd. As the game neared the half time mark, Town continued to dominate. Titus Bramble was brilliantly snubbing the attack of John Hartson, while McGreal was taking care of Craig Bellamy. The crowd enjoyed reminding Bellamy of his Norfolk roots, and the fact that he would be returning there to play next season. It was not the best of halves, but Town were leading, and heading towards Europe. The second half continued in much the same vein as the first. Jim Magilton superbly crafted an opening on the left side of the penalty box, but there was no one to meet his lofted pass. You always felt that at only one nil, Coventry were still very much in it, and so this proved when they should have been levelled with two golden chances. Keith Brannigan proved what an able replacement he is for England's number one Wrighty, when he brilliantly saved a shot from John Eustace. He somehow palmed a goal bound shot away for a corner. Minutes later, Bellamy demonstrated what a waste of money he really is, when he side footed wide when it looked easier to score. A great Coventry move left Ipswich standing still, and saw Hartson play the Welsh one in on goal. His miss greatly entertained the Ipswich crowd, and cost Coventry dear, as it proved to be a crucial turning point of the match. One minute later Town punished the sky blues for their slack finishing, as they raced up the field and scored a priceless second. Breen's fluffed clearance fell nicely to Jamma, and just as we were expecting him to play the ball wide to Hreidarsson, he let fly with stunning shot that gave Kirkland no chance. It really was a cracking goal. Burley has often urged the midfielder to have more on-spec shots, as he can be so dangerous with that right foot of his. He did so today, and we all reaped the rewards. It had been a good match for the silky player. He had created a goal, and now scored one. The party was now in full swing, and Coventry never looked like getting back into it. Substitute Zuniga was denied by Brannigan, but it was Holland who came closest to scoring a third for Town. His drive blazed over the bar, when he should really have hit the target. But the final whistle soon came, and we were back in Europe. There were some great performances in the Town team. Brannigan proved what I had always suspected, that he is top quality keeper in his own right. On this performance, it would be harsh if he was replaced at Charlton by Wrighty. He has waited patiently for his chance, and grabbed it with both hands. But Jamma must be man of the match, and is one of this season's many success stories. He, like fellow goal scorer Reuser, illustrated that we do have some match winners in midfield. It hasn't yet sunk in, and probably won't for quite a while. It's quite remarkable, and is like a lottery win (not that I've ever won the bloody lottery). A place in Europe is a prize really worth celebrating, and just reward for what has been a truly memorable season. I really don't care too much if it's the UEFA Cup or Champion's league; it is something to look forward to next season. I urge all Town fans to enjoy the current success while it's here, you never know how long it is going to last. But spare a thought for Coventry fans. They bravely supported their team until the final whistle, but to no avail. Baring a miracle, it looks like they will be going down. It will be a new feeling for them, and having experienced it twice before in my lifetime, it's probably the worse things that can happen as a football fan. Anyway, I'm off down the pub now, to raise a glass or several to Burley's magnificent tractor boys. If anyone has any views they wish to air on the site regarding this season, please feel free to drop me an e-mail.

From The Terrace

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