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sql/match-reports/1996-97/1996-8-31-0.htm

Oldham Athletic (2) 3 - 3 (2) Ipswich Town

Division 1 1996-97

Saturday, August 31, 1996

Referee: F Stretton

Manager: Unknown

Boundary Park

Attendance: 5,339

Manager: George Burley

Match Number: 2637

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Match Report

Oldham Athletic 3 Ipswich Town 3

SO much was going on at Boundary Park on and off the pitch yesterday that one portly fan sauntered unnoticed on to the pitch and squatted on the centre circle before play was evendually held up.

The supporter made his point and so did Oldham - just - to end a sequence of four defeats, three in the League and one in the Coca-Cola Cup.

A hair-raising draw failed to pacify supporters who stayed on to demand the sacking of manager Graeme Sharp and the board.

Judged purely on entertainment value, no-one could complain. Anyone with a whiff of the coaching manual would have cringed at the indiscipline of both defences.

Oldham scored the first goal in 15 seconds and had to equalise twice before the point was confirmed to ease them off bottom place.

"The biggest cheer was when the fan sat in the centre circle," Sharp said. "The atmosphere was awful, but the players deserve credit for weathering the storm.

"There's no point in demanding that heads roll. I have to sell before I can buy new players and our fans know that. But we did look awful at the back at times."

So did Ipswich, who missed the experience of Danish defender Claus Thomsen, away on international duty.

"I was disappointed at the way we defended, but three goals away to follow five against Reading isn't bad," said Ipswich manager George Burley. "We'll carry on attacking. That's not a problem."

Four goals in the first 28 minutes was almost mind-blowing. Paul Rickers struck the early blow, Alex Mathie equalised in 12 minutes with the first of his brace and Mick Stockwell shot Ipswich ahead after 22 minutes.

Such was the prelude to the best goal of the assorted six, volleyed in by central defender Steve Redmond, a striker in his early days with Manchester City. It was not the last rescue act by Redmond, who took the sting out of the fan's solo protest by shaking his hand and patting him sympathetically on the head before the law took over.

Ipswich's defence forgot the basics to allow Nicky Banger a free header to comfortably convert a free-kick by Carl Serrant.

At 3-2 it seemed Oldham might even take all three points and ease the pressure on manager Sharp. But the alert Mathie foiled Oldham, nicking his second after a shot by Paul Mason rapped the crossbar.

Goalkeeper Jon Hallworth, his place secure following the financially-enforced £1.2 million sale of Paul Gerrard to Everton, redeemed his blunder when he fluffed a an easy save from Danny Sonner to present Mathie with his first.

Hallworth's majestic two-fisted save from Mathie in the six-yard zone with the score at 2-2 turned out to be just as vital as any of the goals.

Daily Telegraph

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