Ipswich Town 0 Charlton Athletic 1
IPSWICH Town and Charlton Athletic are noted for espousing the finer points of the beautiful game.
Not for them the black, cynical approach that increasingly blinds the Nationwide League in which they live and breathe.
Yesterday, they had an off day, a nasty, niggly and frequently spiteful off day that left a sour taste among the few neutrals at Portman Road.
After nine bookings and a sending off, most of which were deserved, the omens are not good for the return leg of their first division semi-final at The Valley on Wednesday.
Perhaps it was the tension of the play-offs, that emotive series of end-of-season fixtures on which so much hangs; perhaps it was Ipswich's frustration at not being able to penetrate a defence that has now not conceded a goal for 12 hours; perhaps it was Charlton's cussed determination to hang on to their somewhat fortunate eleventh-minute lead.
Whatever the reason, it was an undignified scrap and did little to enhance the credentials of either for a place in the FA Carling Premiership.
Out of character it might have been, but any excuses are lame and unworthy. The first half had proved reasonably tame, with Charlton going ahead after Clapham diverted Keith Jones's low cross into his own net.
Mike Fletcher, the referee, had reason to take only two names as Charlton defended resolutely and Ipswich probed thoughtfully if unsuccessfully.
In the second half, the petulance swiftly rose to unacceptable levels. Mills and Johnson had a silly spat, as did Kinsella and Venus.
Then Mathie and Mills had a pop at each other, too. Fletcher waved his yellow card with not so much relish but necessity and inevitability.
Mills eventually departed after a wild challenge on Taricco.
That television replays showed he barely touched Taricco were irrelevant; the intent was obvious.