since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 1 - 0 (0) Fulham

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Referee: A Wiley

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 25,156

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2936


 Marcus Bent 























Match Report

Bent goal decides tense match

Normal service resumed! The Tractor boys emerged from their recent FA nightmare, to record another precious Premiership victory. Marcus Bent scores (again!) to beat Fulham in a very tense match...

This slender victory over the affluent Londoners represents another massive win for Ipswich. Everyone was anxious to see how the team would react to Sunday's shock defeat. Would it be confident shattering, or would it be a blessing in disguise? I'm happy to report that the players tonight rolled up their sleeves and turned in gritty, backs to the wall effort and fully deserved the victory.

Not that this was an easy victory by any means. My heart rate still hasn't recovered; such was the tension towards the end. This wasn't the best footballing performance by Town in recent weeks, but bearing in mind the importance, that's not surprising. But everyone gave their all, and that was the real difference between today and Sunday.

Burley made a couple of unexpected changes; Marcus Stewart was dropped for what must be one of the only times in career, as Alun Armstrong was given the opportunity to partner the inform Marcus Bent. The more combative Jamie Clapham was preferred in midfield to Martijn Reuser.

In the first half, both teams stroked the ball around in an attractive manner, but not many chances were really created. It was somewhat of a welcome surprise then, when with only ten minutes on the clock, Ipswich broke the deadlock.

Peralta put a good ball through to Armstrong, who ran down the left flank. From a tight angle, the striker fired in a shot that Edwin Van Der Sar saved, but the ball looped over straight into the path of the onrushing Bent who made no mistake from the close range. It wasn't the prettiest of goals, but that hardly matters.

As quite often is the case when an early goal is scored, Town backed off somewhat. Fulham took the initiative, and proved that they do know how to play football, with some good interchanging passes. But all too often this failed to trouble the Ipswich defence, who stood firm. As the half drew to a close, it was Town who were rueing a couple of very good chances to have bagged a two-goal cushion. Marcus Bent's point-blank header went straight down Van Der Sar's throat, and John McGreal should have done much better with a header from a corner.

The second half continued in a similar manner. Fulham, searching for a way back into the game, dominated possession for long periods, while Town's desperate defending increased as time ticked by. But for all their impressive flowing football, Jean Tigana's men didn't actually create much in the way of a goalmouth threat. In fact, the only real goal scoring chance they had was when Andy Marshall dived brilliantly to save a free kick. They just couldn't find a way through the battling Ipswich rearguard.

As Fulham piled men forward, Town had chances to attack on the break, and should really have sewn the game up. Marcus Bent had an exceptional game. Apart from scoring the only goal, he proved what a great target man he can be, as well as being able to use his pace by running onto through balls. He also has the ability to create for others. It was therefore a great disappointment then, that he blotted his copybook by missing an easy one-on-on with the Dutch keeper. Fortunately it didn't matter, and we'll put it down as an exceptional save.

The final whistle seemed to take forever to arrive, and what a huge relief it was when it came. We've beaten a good team tonight, and after the defensive calamity of Sunday, we restricted a talented team to virtually no chances. Makin and Hreidarsson looked solid in the fullback positions, while McGreal and Venus reformed their impressive partnership. In midfield Peralta, Clapham, Wright and Holland chased and tackled every ball, while Bent and Armstrong ran their socks off all night up front.

We may not have enjoyed as much possession as we normally do, but we created by far the better chances, and it would have been a disheartening injustice if we had conceded a late goal. But we didn't, and at this stage of the season, winning is by far the most important thing. Up the Premier League we go!

From The Terrace

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