since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 2 - 0 (0) Leicester City

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Referee: N Barry

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,403

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2929

























Match Report

Town win six-pointer

Ipswich secured their second win on the bounce, to move off the bottom of the table. It's onwards and upwards now for the Tractor Boys, as a 2-0 victory against Leicester City at Portman Road in a ‘can't lose' match, gives real hope that we can still beat the drop.

Crikey, another win! It's all a bit strange, this victory stuff. A very merry Portman Road crowd went home happy after being treated to our first home victory since August, against fellow relegation favourites Leicester. In the end, it was a comfortable victory, and all in all, a job well done by Burley's men on a freezing cold Boxing Day. There was a great deal of pressure on the players today. After the shock win at White Hart Lane, everyone looked at this game as one where we could consolidate our revival. Had we not have won, or even lost, the effects could have been disastrous. In Leicester, we were up against a team that in terms of football ability were inferior, but under the management of Dave Bassett, were likely to scrap and make Town's life as hard as possible. And so they did. In fact, for the first forty-five minutes there was barley anything in it. This was a typical relegation six pointer where both teams were evidently trying, but nerves and tension were depriving the game of free flowing football. In fact the Foxes marginally shaded the first half, as few chances were created. Ipswich lined up with Sixto Peralta reinstated in midfield, and Titus taking over from John McGreal in the back. Burley played with two wingers, Finidi and Reuser, with Armstrong partnering Marcus Bent. In opposition, we were facing former fan's favourite Scowie, and the not so favourite Robbie Savage. In fact it was Scowcroft who had the first real chance of the game, when the striker latched onto pass and tested Sereni with a shot that the Italian parried for a corner. Bramble was looking very nervy in defence, and gave away a couple of corners that maybe he shouldn't have. But at least he didn't produce one of his fatal passes, and the youngster grew in statue as the game went on. Hreidarsson also seemed incapable of keeping the ball on the pitch for the first twenty minutes. Leicester enjoyed a flurry of corners as the crowd and players became more anxious. In fact Town didn't really look like scoring until the eighteenth minute, when Peralta combined well with Reuser, but neither could finish with a shot. Finidi was looking useful down the left, and Muzzy Izzett was shown a yellow card when frustration got the better of him. Unable to disposes the Nigerian, he lunged at him, as he was about to take off on another run. But it was really only in the final stages of the first half, when the team begun to put some good moves together and dominate their opponents. Marcus Bent nearly/should have scored after a good Makin cross, but his shot had no power. Martijn Reuser fired a free kick just over the bar, and Bent had another go, but to no avail. Despite the encouraging end to the first half, it was hard to see when the goal would come, or where it would come from. Burley kept faith with the same eleven, but a different team appeared from the dressing room. However, we had to endure an almighty scare a minute after the restart, when Scowie nearly put the visitors ahead. His header looked goal bound, but fortunately Sereni was there to pull off a vital reaction save. That one incident could have changed the game, but from then on, it was all Town. In fact we only had to wait until the 48th minute. Our old former Norwich friend Lee Marshall was having another battle ‘royale' with Martin Reuser. I don't know what Marshall was doing, trying to take Reuser on by the sideline, but the skilful Dutchman nicked the ball off him and headed towards the penalty area. He then dispatched a teasing cross that Marcus Bent stooped to nod home past the flapping Walker. It sent Portman Road into heaven, and you could feel the tension lift. It was Bent's first goal since his move from Blackburn, and boy, did he look chuffed. But Reuser deserves the praise, for what was a great assist. An inspired Bent nearly added a second minutes later, when he chased a hopeful ball, won it, and powered in shot that hit the side netting. But it didn't take long for the second to come. Finidi played a deft pass to Reuser, who carefully stroked it into the path Peralta. The Argentinean, from an acute angle, fired in a shot that again Walker was nowhere near. It was a great finish, and this time it was Peralta to celebrate his first goal for the club. An air of relief came after the second goal. At 1-0, Leicester could so easily have snatched a goal back, as they did at Filbert Street, but with a goal cushion we felt that much more secure. Burley swapped Jermaine Wright for Finidi, but this was no reflection on the Nigerian, who is looking better with every game. Bassett threw on Ade Akinbiyi, but City were unable to conjure up any chance worth noting. They tried to step up a gear and push forward, but this only allowed Town to counter with speed. Naylor replaced an injured looking Armstrong (again!) and Jim Magilton was given five minutes at the expense of Sixto. Reuser came close to grabbing the goal he deserved, when he fired a shot hard and low, but it flew agonisingly inches wide. The final whistle finally came, and the crowd celebrated by aptly singing ‘we're not bottom anymore!' Unfortunately for Leicester, they were. This was a very encouraging performance- mainly due to the circumstances. We got the result today when we needed to, against a team determined to be resilient. It took a while for the breakthrough to come, but when it did, there was only going to be one winner. Ok, it was fortunate we scored a second when we did, in fact it fortunate we scored the first! But we are now turning possession into goals, and we are punishing teams like we used to. The winger system, that Burley seems desperate to play, is now beginning to pay-off. Both Reuser and Finidi caused havoc down the flanks, and it was great to see Marcus Bent play so well, and score. At half time I actually criticised him, saying he just doesn't look like a £3 million man. I don't know if he heard me, because his second half performance was so much better, and my estimation of him went up by about £2 million. Keeping a clean sheet will also do the world of good, and after a couple shaky moments early on, the defence held firm. So, we're off the bottom, after six painful weeks. What a great Christmas present, let's just hope we don't return there. Make no mistake, we've still got a massive fight on our hands, as we've had such a poor run that any climb up the table will be slow. But with this victory, we have strengthened belief that it can be done.

From The Terrace

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