since 1878

Ipswich Town (4) 5 - 0 (0) Sunderland

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Saturday, December 29, 2001

Referee: G Poll

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,517

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2930

























Match Report

Ipswich romp to victory

Ipswich ended a mixed 2001 on an almighty high, when they made it three wins on the trot by thrashing Sunderland 5-0 at Portman Road. No, your eyes are not deceiving you- Ipswich romped in style to their biggest victory since being promoted to the Premier League.

It took Ipswich five months to tot up a paltry nine points in the Premiership. A week later, we have now doubled that tally, thanks to a fine 5-0 victory against Sunderland. I don't like to quote the overused favourite football clichés, but the saying ‘a week can be a long time in football' has never rang truer than for Ipswich Town. We were dead and buried before the Spurs game, now we look like we have every chance of beating the drop. I said before the match, that this encounter with Sunderland would be a tougher one than everyone was predicting. How wrong I was, as the Mackems rolled over to provide by far the easiest opposition we have faced at Portman Road for a couple of years. It was a superb day all round for Town fans, who watched on in almost in disbelief as the Tractor Boys motored into an unassailable 4-0 half time lead. An Alun Armstrong brace, a first goal for Thomas Gaardsoe, and a sublime- no genius- Finidi George stunner killed the North Easterners in a short space of time. The second half was a much more relaxed affair, but Jamie Clapham managed to get on the end of cracking passing build up to score Town's fifth. All in all, this result was beyond our wildest dreams and proves that we do have the ability, flair and determination to beat the drop. Sixto Peralta didn't make the starting line up as was initially hoped, and Jim Magilton replaced him in the centre of the park. But the biggest surprise was the omission of Titus Bramble, who was also unfit. The ‘rookie' Thomas Gaardsoe, who was making only his second ever Premiership start, filled his void. And young Thomas did everyone proud, as he turned in a mature, relaxed performance that belied his limited years. The likes of Bramble and McGreal will really have to fight for their place now. No prizes for guess that, yes, captain Marvel did pass his fitness test, and take his place in centre of midfield. The game kicked off, and it quickly became evident that this game would not mirror the Leicester game. Sunderland, to their credit, came forward when they had the ball, and passed the ball in a manner that illustrated their confidence. Phillips, Arca and Gray all had efforts that didn't suggest the whitewash that was to follow. But after 25 minutes, Finidi George, who was already proving a handful for the Sunderland defence, easily beat Gray down the right flank and sent in a low cross carefully aimed at finding Armstrong. It was timed to perfection, and Armstrong, after initially missing with one foot (we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he dummied the keeper) scored with the other. The goal ignited Portman Road, and set the tone for the afternoon. The goal inspired the team, and soon we were 2-0 up. After more Town pressure had forced a corner, Thomas Gaardsoe rose like a salmon and headed the ball past Sorensen, his national side's keeper. But before the celebrations of the second goal had died down, Town were three up. Martijn Reuser aimed a free kick at the unmarked Armstrong, who stole in ahead of the advancing Sorensen, and headed into the back of an unguarded net. It all seemed a bit too easy, and for once, everything was going our way. But the best goal was yet to come, and it is one that will be remembered at Portman Road for a long time. A quick 1-2 between Bent and Finidi saw the Nigerian racing off down the wing once more leaving the Sunderland defence in his wake. With Sorensen off his line, Finidi, floated in a perfectly weighted lob from a tight angle that sailed straight into the back of the net. It goes down as one of the best goals I have seen at Portman Road. No one can argue now, that in Finidi George, we have a world-class player. So, we were 4-0 up, and barley half an hour gone. Could it get any better? Well it should have, when Armstrong chased a long ball, somehow beat a defender, before firing wide. It should have been a well-deserved hat trick for Armstrong, but somehow he missed. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall, and heard Peter Reid's half time talk. Peter is known to be rather liberal with the usage of expletives in his half time talks, as past documentaries have shown. I expect any attempt to broadcast this motivational talk would just been one very long bleep. But Reidy did decide to make some changes, with Quinn, Gray and McAteer being replaced by Kyle, McCartney and Kilbane. Burley, not surprisingly, made no changes to the Town line up. Apart from the first minute of the restart, when Town nearly added a fifth, most of the next 30 minutes belonged to Sunderland. Playing for pride, the visitors had their best period when it was too late. McCann, Kilbane and Kyle all went close for Sunderland, but not close enough. The untried and untested defensive duo of Veno and Gaardsoe held very firm. Sereni palmed a testing Phillips shot onto the post, but nothing was going to ruin our day. Makin was booked for a challenge on McCartney, and Bent saw yellow for a foul on Arca, as tempers began to flair. In the final quarter of the game Clapham and Naylor replaced the tiring Reuser and Armstrong, and both were instrumental in an ‘icing on the cake' fifth goal that came three minutes from time. In a classic move, probably more than 10 passes were exchanged before Naylor played Clapham in from close range. Clapham banged it home to send the crowd wild. The final whistle came, and Town had won three on the bounce. The crown sang ‘Ipswich are back', and there is now real belief that we can stay up. Don't get me wrong- it will still be hard slog. Everyone keeps picking up results here and there, and we will have to keep this rich vein of form going. But Sunderland got the hiding we have been threatening for a very long time. I've seen us play them twice this season, and we've been the best team on both occasions- really, we should finish above them. Everyone played their part in this victory, it was a real team performance. The man of the match could be anyone in a Town shirt- Finidi, Armstrong, Bent, Veno, but for me it was Gaardsoe, for his impressive performance at the heart of the Town defence. Let's see if we can carry on this flurry of wins at Charlton.

From The Terrace

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