since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 1 - 1 (1) Cardiff City

Nationwide League Division One 2003-04

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Referee: Richard Beeby

Manager: Joe Royle

Portman Road 13:00

Attendance: 28,703

Manager: Lennie Lawrence

Match Number: 3057


 Shefki Kuqi (26)
 Bullock (41)


RobinsonParry (74)
CroftBarker (90)


 Bullock (43)





















Match Report

Edgy Ipswich ease angst

THE TRACTOR BOYS’ ROAD TO CARDIFF successfully went through Cardiff City, though not without a few stops to check their bearings. An unconvincing 1-1 draw yesterday was enough for Ipswich Town to rise one place in the Nationwide League first division table, claiming fifth spot and a meeting in a two-leg play-off with West Ham United for the right to progress to a final at the Millennium Stadium.

The sides, who traded 2-1 away wins during the season, will first play at Portman Road on Saturday lunchtime. Joe Royle, the Ipswich manager, said: "They will be two tight, well-contested games with West Ham. They won here early in the season when we couldn’t win to save our lives. We were the worst team in Ipswich’s history after six games of the season and a lot of people are going to have had a poke in the eye with us reaching the play-offs."

Yet Ipswich have rather reversed into post-season play due to two draws and a defeat. Royle said: "It was probably our worst performance over the last ten games. There were a lot of nerves in the place."

Cardiff dispelled suggestions that their desire would not be joining them on the journey along the M4. Lennie Lawrence, their manager, said: "It is totally ironic that we drop into the bottom half of the table when we have played as well as we have for a long time." Robert Earnshaw, scorer of 21 league goals this season, was sharp early on, his shot from 22 yards testing Kelvin Davis, the Ipswich goalkeeper, as the visiting team seized the initiative.

It was easy to see how Ipswich have leaked 72 league goals this season, losing eight times at home, as their cavalier midfield left gaps on the flanks. Perhaps nonchalance set in for Cardiff after 25 minutes when Richard Langley was dispossessed 30 yards from goal. The loose ball broke for Shefki Kuqi to send a right-foot shot inside the far post and Ipswich, temporarily, into fourth place.

Two minutes later, Martyn Margetson, the Cardiff goalkeeper, did well to save a shot from Darren Bent. With his loan spell from York City at an end, Lee Bullock, the visiting team’s midfield player, was playing for a contract, and six minutes before the break he reached a cross from Tony Vidmar at the near post and his glancing header flicked off Jermaine Wright’s knee and past Davis.

Jim Magilton, the Ipswich captain and a veteran of his side’s Wembley victory in the 2000 play-offs, was unhappy to be taken off before the hour mark and their midfield fell apart thereafter. A Tommy Miller shot aside, the hosts hardly threatened again. Lawrence noted that three of the four play-off places are taken by clubs who were in the Premiership together just two years ago. "Yet we’ve been in the second or third division for 100 years. It’s too hard to go straight through the divisions. You have to do it step by step and all the things we need next year were on display today," he said.

Not so for Joe Royle’s side, whose success in 2000 came at the end of four consecutive appearances in the play-offs. There is plenty more angst in Suffolk to banish now.

Graham Dunbar (The Times)

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2003-04 Reports