Ipswich Town 1 Bolton Wanderers 0
IT MIGHT not have been the champagne football which Bobby Robson has become accustomed to during his nine-year exile on the Continent but his surprise visit to Portman Road coincided with a sense of sweet revenge for Ipswich.
The former England manager, who took the club to FA and UEFA Cup triumphs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is back on home soil after coaching spells at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.
Whether he attended the rerun of one of last season's play-off semi-finals in the hope of avoiding speculation linking him with Newcastle United, or whether it was to see the prolific goal-scoring which has elevated Ipswich to the First Division summit, was unclear.
On both counts he would have left disappointed. He was never out of the shadow of a media throng, and even though the early signs indicated an absorbing encounter the game tailed off until David Johnson's virtuoso strike in the 68th minute.
Ipswich began with composure but they found it hard to crack an austere Bolton. Robson, though, appreciated the need to grind out a no-frills result when the occasion demanded. "It's not always about scoring threes and fours," he said. "Sometimes you have to dig in. It might not have been a high-scoring game but it was a game Ipswich might have lost last season," he added.
"They have been so close after the last few years that maybe it is their turn to go up. I would think they could get into the Premiership this time around."
Colin Todd's Bolton, meanwhile, are still nursing a hangover from their play-off final defeat against Watford. Mark Fish, previously the club captain, no longer features after handing in a transfer request at the end of the last campaign.
The once coveted Danish international midfield pairing of Claus Jensen and Per Frandsen are shadows of their former selves. They are still shaken, perhaps, by the lack of interest from Premiership clubs.
Suspended striker Dean Holdsworth remains desperate for a return to London and Mike Whitlow, who began his playing career under Billy Bremner at Leeds United, is expected to leave the club this week.
No one has suffered more play-off agony than Ipswich manager George Burley and he looked on appreciatively as Johnson's goal secured their fourth straight win.
The Jamaican international has now scored five times and, according to Robson, he holds the key to the promised land. "The boy's a real livewire, someone who can terrorise defences and make them frightened of his pace," he said. "He has predatory instincts and his finish was as cool as you like."
The standard may have fallen some way short of Robson's, but the indications are that he will soon have a smile back on his face. Whether it is celebrating Ipswich Town's promotion to the Premiership is another matter. Asked whether he had returned to England to take up a coaching position he said with a wry smile: "I've not come back for a job in the steel business, that's for sure."