since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 3 - 2 (1) Coventry City

Coca-Cola Championship 2004-05

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Referee: Mick Russell

Manager: Joe Royle

Portman Road 15:00

Attendance: 23,670

Manager: Micky Adams

Match Number: 3091

Goals

Home
 Darren Bent (45)
 Darren Bent (59)
 Shefki Kuqi (77)
Away
 John (12)
 McSheffrey (61)

Substitutions

Away
LeacockWhing (50)
MorrellJorgensen (70)
OsbourneAdebola (80)

Cards

Away
 Shaw 
 Whing 

Teams

Away

Steele

Leacock

Williams

Shaw

Staunton

Morrell

Doyle

Hughes

Osbourne

McSheffrey

John

Substitutes

Away

Shearer

Johnson

Whing

Jorgensen

Adebola

Match Report

Bent double fires Ipswich

After a flurry of Cup victories over Premiership rivals last weekend, the old Division Two brigade made some uppity comments about the gap between them and their betters being not as big as is commonly perceived. Perhaps and maybe. On yesterday's evidence, though, it was easily the equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

Ipswich eventually finagled a win to bring to an end their recent bleak spell. They have had a blip and are still eight points clear of third place. It is clearly a forgiving division.

Coventry, meanwhile, having dispensed with Peter Reid ('I think with me out of the way and a new man coming in it will give everyone a boost,' said Reid), are faring no better under caretaker Adrian Heath. It is not forgiving.

Coventry fielded an antique defence with the left-sided positions being occupied by Richard Shaw, aged 36, and Steve Staunton, 36 on Wednesday. You thought they'd gone eerily silent, but they'd merely gone to Coventry. The visitors also decided to show up wearing the Ajax strip, making them look like brazen impostors.

Although it didn't appear entirely that way when they took an early lead. Dean Leacock sprung Ipswich's faulty offside trap with a deft pass with the outside of his foot and Stern John collected the ball, rounded Kelvin Davis and scored as easily as he pleased. If not quite Total Football it was certainly halfway there.

At the other end, Darren Currie (nephew of Tony), and so similar that you have to wonder if there had been some cross-sister shagging going on, floated a free-kick across the face of the goal but no one could get a flailing leg to it. Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent missed the target with tempting half-volleys.

These chances, however, owed more to defensive incompetence than they did incisive attack and Ipswich's game lacked any fluency.

It was scrappy fare served up by old men who were once better and youngsters who will never be. On this form Ipswich are considerably worse than the Norwich team they might replace.

But they were still easily the equals of a disorganised Coventry. And on the cusp of half-time a cross from Fabian Wilnis was stabbed in by Bent. Which was fair, if not pretty.

At the start of the second half the Ipswich offside non-trap was broached again as Gary McSheffrey took advantage of a mistake by Daniel Karbassiyoon and bore down on goal only to shoot too near to Davis.

It was a costly miss. Almost immediately Jim Magilton threaded a pass through to Bent and he curled a shot round Steele, against the post, and in.

Barely had the Ipswich fans broken into 'We are top of the league' than Kuqi allowed a corner to strike his arm and McSheffrey scored from the penalty spot.

Ipswich's winner was appropriately accidental. Keeper Davis scuffed his kick and it flew three-quarters of the length of the pitch at a maximum height of barely a foot and went straight to Kuqi, who promptly scored. It had travelled from defence to a goal in just two touches. Totally direct football.

Shortly afterwards, Kuqi would have doubled his tally if, having done the hard work, he hadn't got his feet in a muddle. And he and Bent had further chances towards the end, as Coventry capitulated.

'For me it was our most important win of the season,' said Joe Royle, 'because we were below our best.'

'I'm devastated to lose the game in the way we did,' said Heath. 'It was really bizarre, their last goal. It was a pathetic goal to concede, really.'

Will Buckley (Guardian Unlimited)

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