since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 1 - 4 (1) Manchester City

FA Cup 4th Round 2001-02

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Referee: G Poll

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 21,199

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2935


 Marcus Bent 




















Match Report

Ipswich crash out of Cup

Ipswich crashed out of the FA Cup after being humbled 4-1 at home by 1st division side Manchester City at Portman Road. What makes it even worse, is the fact that it was shown live on TV. Typical!

Extraordinary. What a marvellous evening of football! Town's recent fine run was brought to an abrupt halt by the unlikeliest of teams in this live TV clash. This was possibly the worst Town performance on home soil for years (well, the second half, anyway) and some real soul searching will have to be done before the more important Premier League match against Fulham on Wednesday.

Some woefully bad finishing and a comical refereeing decision were Town's undoing in this match. We spurned every opportunity that came our way, but I don't want to take too much away from City, this was their night and they thoroughly deserved their victory. The way in which Keegan has got them playing the game has to be applauded.

It all looked so promising early on. We were by far the more dangerous team in the first 45 minutes, and if we had taken our chances, we'd have killed the game even before City had scored.

A great piece of skill by Sixto Peralta set Marcus Bent up beautifully, but the striker blazed the ball a foot over the bar. Martijn Reuser was guilty of missing the best chance he'll ever have, when put through on goal he fluffed his shot. You'd have put your mortgage on the Dutchman scoring, but somehow he didn't.

Overall, the first half was fairly even, and it looked like it would be scoreless at half time. But thanks to another disgraceful refereeing decision, the game was irretrievably turned on its head. A cross from Shaun Phillips-Wright cannoned of a city player for a goal kick, but unbelievably the referee called for a corner. From the resultant corner, we found ourselves going into the break a goal down. There is no doubt that Eyal Berkovic's goal was shear brilliance- he connected perfectly to volley home the corner from 20 yards out, but it's a goal that should never have been. I hope Graham Poll is made to answer for his bizarre decision.

So when the teams trooped out for the second half, we were all expecting an Ipswich fight back that would undue the injustice we had just suffered. Not so, I'm afraid. A shapeless Ipswich team caved in as City exploited the wide-open spaces gifted to them from a clueless Town defence.

Shaun Goater made it two after 64 minutes with a well-taken goal, after a good pass from Bernabia. It was the least the Mancs had deserved for their efforts so far.

With 20 minutes to go, Town finally looked like making a game of it, and should have scored from a corner. Weaver saved brilliantly from Peralta, and Stewart rattled the crossbar from close range.

There were about 10 minutes on the clock when hope hope was restored. Marcus Bent hit a lovely shot from 30 yards that flew into the net. It took a slight deflection on the way past Weaver, but it was a great strike to get us back in it.

About a minute later, we should have been level. Armstrong got on the end of a pass from Jermaine Wright, but Weaver was then again with a reaction save to deny us.

But the game's fate was sealed minutes later anyway. Another probing run and shot from Huckerby forced a good reaction save from Marshall, but he could only parry his shot in the path of Goater, who headed into the empty net.

The shell-shocked players were thankful for the final whistle, and the inquest will now begin as to what went wrong. The defence was a shambles in the second half, even Jermaine Wright was thrown into the right back position to try and improve things. But we were chasing the game, and the more we attacked, the more the back line fell into disarray.

You could argue that if we had taken our early chances, if the 'corner' would have been a goal kick, if Armstrong had equalised moments after Bents goal, the game may have turned out very different. But you can't take it away from City; they were the better team on the night and fully deserved their glory.

There's only one way to view this match, and that's by being philosophical. We weren't going to win the FA Cup anyway, and with our current plight we can do without the extra games. I must admit, I cheered up immensely when I heard the draw for the next round; that's City out of the Cup, and at least we don't have to endure an exhausting and fruitless trip up north.

We were going to lose sooner or later, it's better that it has come in the Cup. The players can learn from this, and try putting it right the next match. I'm not too bothered that we're out of Cup, just more pissed off that once again we were crap on BBC1. What is it with this channel? 4-1 against a team like Manchester City is basically embarrassing, and isn't exactly an encouraging sign. While are relegation rivals Middlesbrough are beating Man Utd 2-0, we are getting thumped by 1st division Manchester City!

I never thought I say this but, Christ, did we miss Chris Makin tonight. His absence at right back let Darren Huckerby run us ragged down the left, and having Venus back for the Fulham game is also vitally important. The Town players let themselves down tonight, as well as the supporters. The second half showing was shocking, I don't think I've seen so many passes go astray before- they just couldn't find a blue shirt to save their lives. They didn't take City seriously, and were taught a lesson.

If I was Burley, I wouldn't be too harsh, the players shouldn't need telling how dreadful they were. We all have off days and we should be thankful this hasn't cost us three points. But if they EVER play like that again in the Premier League...

From The Terrace

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