since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 1 - 2 (1) Crystal Palace

Nationwide League Division One 2002-03

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Referee: C Webster

Manager: Joe Royle

Portman Road 15:00

Attendance: 24,941

Manager: Trevor Francis

Match Number: 2971


 Darren Ambrose (39)
 Johnson (19)
 Butterfield (78)


GranvilleGray (45)
AdebolaBlack (67)
RiihilahtiSymons (78)


 Chris Makin 





















Match Report

Royle finds faults in Ipswich at front and back

There was, mused Joe Royle, plenty of good stuff between the penalty areas. "It was in the boxes we looked a little bit short."

And how. Those being the areas where goals are scored and conceded, Ipswich's new manager now has a rather better idea of the size of the task facing him at Portman Road than he did after last week's slightly misleading Uefa Cup victory over Slovan Liberec.

Desperately lightweight up front, flatfooted and clumsy in defence, the Ipswich malaise may go deeper than many suspect. The theory that the Tractor Boys are only an injection of confidence away from being a top-six team looked like fantasy yesterday.

The cold truth is that Palace should have been out of sight long before the whistle. From the moment Aki Riihilahti's header was well saved by Andy Marshall in the fifth minute, Palace looked dangerous every time they came forward.

Trevor Francis had Dele Adebola and Dougie Freedman playing free roles behind the in-form Andrew Johnson, and the Ipswich defenders were patently baffled. Adebola, a long way from being the most skilful of players, was particularly effective down the left wing, frequently muscling his way past Chris Makin to put in dangerous crosses.

Eventually he chose to cut inside, leaving Makin floundering. Looking up, he picked out Johnson, scorer of hat-tricks in his previous two games, and the former Birmingham forward produced a neat low drive which never looked like going anywhere other than the corner of the net.

"We stopped playing for a spell after that," complained Francis, to the extent that they let Ipswich back into the game. Shortly before half-time Jim Magilton picked out the overlapping Jamie Clapham, Jermaine Wright headed the cross back across goal, and the impressive 18-year-old Darren Ambrose placed a neat header beyond the Palace keeper Alex Kolinko.

Shaken awake, Palace could have scored three times in the next six minutes. Freedman was the culprit on each occasion, heading over, poking an Adebola cross wide and bringing a brilliant, twisting save from Marshall.

When Marshall blocked Tony Popovic's point-blank header on the hour it looked like it might be one of those days for the visitors, but they got a break their pressure deserved. Johnson freed Danny Butterfield on the right of the penalty area and the midfielder had a touch and from close to the byline drove a shot high inside Marshall's near post, the goalkeeper having anticipated a cross. It may have been deliberate.

When Johnson, the smallest player on the pitch, was left unmarked at a corner, it summed up the efforts of the Ipswich central defenders. Somehow his header was scrambled off the line, and in injury-time Hermann Hreidarsson might have snatched an undeserved point.

It was a third win in three for Palace, who have now lost only one of their last 14 games. "We've added a bit of resilience since last season," said Francis. "I always felt Ipswich were vulnerable on crosses. Joe's got some very good players but he needs to get some of them out of the treatment room."

Royle agreed. "I'd like to bring someone in on loan, but I don't know who yet. With three strikers unavailable due to injury, we need a front player."

He might also be taking a long look at his defenders.

Richard Rae (The Guardian)

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2002-03 Reports