Ipswich Town 0 Norwich City 2
THE two things Ipswich Town supporters desire most deeply are to get back into the Premiership without recourse to any of that play-off nonsense and to inflict a couple of hefty defeats on Norwich City along the way.
However, the annual jitters that beset Ipswich just when automatic promotion is in sight - and, indeed, when they face their closest rivals - are once more threatening to undermine their progress.
This latest defeat, courtesy of two first-half Iwan Roberts goals, was masterminded by their former player and coach, Bryan Hamilton, who was taking charge of Norwich for the first time following Bruce Rioch's resignation.
Hamilton was Burley's right-hand man two seasons ago when, arriving at Portman Road with Ipswich floundering in the First Division's bottom four, he helped the team rise on the back of one defeat in 23 games into the play-off zone. There, of course, they lost - as they do every year.
Recent form - five games without a win, and second place conceded to Manchester City yesterday - suggests they are on the verge of wobbling into a fourth successive bout of end-of-season knock-outs.
Not since they beat Norwich 5-0 in 1997-98 have Ipswich so much as scored against their East Anglian rivals. And they rarely looked like improving on that record yesterday.
Norwich won the tactical battle, stringing five across midfield to stifle Ipswich's creativity, but the home side also fell short on passion and luck.
That was illustrated in the 19th minute, when two defenders rose to head away Lee Marshall's overhead cross but could not clear decisively. The ball fell to Roberts, whose shot from 18 yards was heavily deflected to wrong-foot Richard Wright.
Four minutes into first-half stoppage time, Roberts' 18th goal of the season was a rather more memorable affair. Paul Dalglish, galloping up the right wing on to Andy Marshall's throw-out, delivered a raking centre to Roberts who went past Fabian Wilnis before scoring with a curling shot.
The advantage should have been even more clear-cut as Chris Llewellyn, in the first half, and Lee Marshall were sent clear by Roberts' deft touches. But 2-0 will do nicely for Hamilton, who hopes to clinch today the loan signing from Tottenham of former Carrow Road favourite Ruel Fox.