Another cleansheet as Town win away
Ipswich Town's First Division match against Bristol City at Ashton Gate today marked the last game as first team coach of Stewart Houston. After today's match he was to embark on a new chapter in his career as right-hand man at Tottenham to his ex-Arsenal boss George Graham.
Houston was out on the pitch warming up the players as usual before today's match, giving particular attention to the on loan pair of Marlon Harewood and Jim Magilton.
Last night at the team hotel Houston had a very amicable farewell dinner with Town colleagues. He sat alongside chairman David Sheepshanks, the man who earlier yesterday had alleged impropriety from Tottenham in their approach to recruit him.
Houston said before today's game "in many ways it will be sad to leave Ipswich. But the Tottenham offer is the perfect challenge for me at this stage in my career. I hope that I may be leaving the club in a better situation defensively than when I arrived. I have had a good working relationship with George Burley and the players. I wish everyone well."
Town today showed one change from the side that beat Oxford 2-1 at Portman Road last Saturday to strengthen their position in fourth place in the First Division table. Eleven goal joint top scorer David Johnson was out serving a one match suspension and into his place came Richard Naylor.
There had been a scare regarding midfield man Matt Holland before the game. But he passed the fitness test on a rib injury.
Town's full England squad midfield man Kieron Dyer had much to live up to in front of the west country crowd. Last week Bristol City manager Benny Lennartsson was describing the 20-year-old as "the best player in the First Division".
Town were looking for a League double today against second from bottom opposition. They beat City 3-1 at Portman Road in September.
It was a pleasantly mild and sunny late February afternoon and around 1000 Town fans were behind the goal in the Wedlock Stand, named after former City and England star Billy Wedlock. The stand behind the goal at the other end was named after another City and England favourite, John Atyeo.
Blow by blow
After four minutes Harewood was not far off target with a good shot following good work by Dyer and Magilton. Two minutes later Locke, the former Colchester player signed by Town boss Burley from Southend during his time at Layer Road, was in action. The City number four, operating in central midfield, crossed from the right for 16 goal top marksman Akinbiyi to go wide with a header.
City, a team who have scored as many goals as Town this season, but not been anywhere near as secure defensively, continued to look lively. In the ninth minute Sebok, the Hungarian making his debut at centre half, got forward to supply Akinbiyi and this time the ex-Norwich man turned to fire wide with his shot.
Locke had a crack on 11 minutes with a shot, but then Town broke forward smartly with Wilnis supplying Dyer. The Blues number seven made ground down the right before cutting in to get in a good shot that Phillips took well.
Naylor, in for the suspended Johnson, headed back into the path of Holland and the Blues number eight went on to get in an effort on goal. Then, after 18 minutes Andersen centred a corner from the left for City and 6ft 3in striker Torpey jumped high to head just over the bar.
Soon after there was a scare at the other end. Naylor had a shot blocked as he struck a well hit effort from an angle on the right. The ball flew out to Dyer who could only drag his shot wide. It was a good chance for the Town but City survived.
It had been a very open game of football so far with efforts on goal going in at both ends with the best chance being that 20th minute effort from Dyer for Town.
Locke went forward on a surging run through the middle just as he use to in his days at Colchester. Andersen received his pass and crossed but Town skipper Mowbray was there to clear the lines for the visitors.
In the 27th minute Venus went forward on a good run from the back for Ipswich. He supplied Harewood and the on-loan striker in the number 10 shirt moved forward well before getting in a shot that rolled just wide of the post.
Keeper Wright had to come to Town's rescue in the 32nd minute. Andersen rolled a pass to Brown and the midfield man let fly with a cracking right foot shot that Wright dived to his right to push away and concede a corner. It was a cracking save by the full England squad keeper, but he was not troubled from the flag-kick. Andersen took it and Akinbiyi did not make good contact with his header.
The Town defence had certainly been the busiest but the visitors had broken away with some slick counter-attacks. The relegation battling home side looked a very determined outfit in their quest to wipe away the misery of dropping two points as West Bromwich Albion scored an equaliser for a 2-2 result in the seventh minute of time added on at the Hawthorns last Saturday.
Magilton, Town's on loan midfield man from Sheffield Wednesday, picked out Wilnis with a good ball to the right. The Dutchman crossed but it came to nothing and then City skipper Shail was lectured by referee Knight after a foul on Harewood.
The Town defence were having to work hard with 35-year-old skipper Mowbray always at the hub of the action. Magilton had a shot charged down by Sebok after 38 minutes but then, two minutes later the lively Brown got forward again from the left of the City midfield to go narrowly wide with a strong left foot shot.
Carey, playing right back for City but wearing the number six shirt pumped forward a good ball that initially caught the Ipswich defence out. Akinbiyi looked in with a chance but Mowbray was soon on hand to relieve the pressure for his team.
Locke crossed but Thetis was there to head away and then as Akinbiyi broke forward Thetis jockeyed his man well in relieving the situation for his team.
Naylor turned well to lay the ball back to Magilton but the Northern Irishman was squeezed out. Then Magilton took a corner that was caught well by Phillips.
Naylor looked to the skies in anguish on the 45 minute mark. Harewood made ground down the right and tried to get in a good cross. Sebok got in the way just as Naylor was about to move in. Naylor was close to getting in a shot at goal.
It had been an open and quite entertaining first half of football action at Ashton Gate. City, a side that rely so much on the goal scoring of Akinbiyi, had been close on more occasions that Town, but the Blues defence had worked hard and coped quite well.
The visitors were working hard to get it together as an attacking force, but Naylor and Harewood had found little scope to really launch their new partnership up front. It had been a satisfactory opening period for Ipswich. Their sheet was clean so far and they would be coming out for the second half looking to get men forward in greater numbers.
Half-time: Bristol City 0, Ipswich Town 0
The second half began with Stockwell replacing Wilnis. The Dutchman had taken a knock early in the match when City's Brown was booked. Not long after the restart in the 49th minute Wright produced a stunning double save to keep his team level. Brown, impressive in only his second start of the season for City cut in from the left past Thetis. It set up Locke to get in a close range effort that Wright kept out with a great save. But the Town keeper could not keep hold of the ball and Akinbiyi got in another shot. It looked a goal, but somehow Wright flung himself to his left to keep it out. It was a sensational double save by the Town keeper and even City fans were in admiration.
Soon after Wright touched a angled shot from Torpey around the post and then Brown crossed for Wright to catch well.
In the 51st minute Naylor made a run down the right for Town but Brennan blocked him and then the Town number nine was in action again, this time trying to set up Harewood. But Sebok covered well for City.
Naylor continued to see plenty of the ball as he turned to get in a shot that Edwards blocked. Then however, at the other end, Akinbiyi had a great chance for City. Brown whipped over a centre from the left but the big centre forward was way off target with his header.
But there was nothing off target for Town in the 56th minute when NAYLOR scored his fourth goal of the season to give the Blues the lead. There was a mistake by Brennan in the City defence and Dyer took the ball on. He picked out Naylor with an excellent pass and the Blues number nine slotted home from close range.
An Akinbiyi cross was cleared for a corner by Venus and then, in the 63rd minute, Andersen got in an effort for City that was deflected wide. Three minutes later Stockwell crossed from the right for Town and Shail did well to get in ahead of Harewood at the far post just as the Town man was about to have header.A corner resulted which Dyer took and skipper Mowbray was just too late with his run at the far post with the ball just going over his head.
Keeper Wright had been an inspiration figure for the Blues. In the 68th minute the man once described by his former goalkeeping coach Phil Parkes as the next Peter Shilton excelled once again. This time Torpey turned to get in a shot that Wright made look easy as he dived to catch at the foot of the post.
Dyer was running so freely this half from midfield for Town and at the end of one of his runs he released Clapham down the left. The former Tottenham man Clapham was squeezed out as he tried to get in a shot.
There was then two bookings with Stockwell being cautioned for a foul on Brennan and Sebok for a foul on Naylor. The Hungarian Sebok did not let it trouble him too much as in the 73rd minute he let fly with a dipping right foot shot from long range that went inches wide of the upright.
Naylor was having a crack at goal in a bid for his second score of the match in the 76th minute. Dyer centred from the right and Naylor latched on to the ball to get in a close range angled effort Phillips did well to beat out.
In the 77th minute City brought on their first substitute with Hill coming in to midfield in place of Edwards.
Dyer made one of his probing runs and when he reached the edge of the box he was fouled by home skipper Shail. Magilton had been practising hard his dead-ball kicks but his effort was unimpressive, dropping harmlessly wide of the upright.
Poor City had worked so hard but it was so frustrating for them in front of goal. They kept battling away though and after Andersen crossed from the right big target man Torpey got in a well directed header but it was no problem for Wright.
With eight minutes to go Ipswich made their second substitution of the game. Petta, the Dutchman who is refusing to sign a new contract and who can become a free agent in the summer, was given a run up front in place of Harewood.
Soon after coming on Petta made a run towards goal but was stopped in his tracks near the edge of the penalty area by Locke.
Thetis did well to cut out a cross from Hill after good work by Akinbiyi. Andersen went over to take the flag-kick but it was far too deep, sailing over the head of Akinbiyi at the far post but the former Norwich and Gillingham man raced after the ball and earned another flag-kick after a tussle with Thetis. Brown took this corner from the left and the result was typical of City's afternoon so far. Brown's kick went to the far post where Shail could only get in a weak header that bobbled wide.
In the 88th minute Petta threaded Dyer through with a lovely ball but the City defence was quick to react and the Town number seven was caught in an off-side trap. Brown then tried to cut in from the left for the home team but he was patrolled well by Magilton and Town got a goal kick.
The Blues fans chanted "Burley's Barmy Army" and as the sun continued to shine down on Ashton Gate the match looked to be drawing towards a happy conclusion for the Suffolk side.
In the 90th minute Petta should have made it 2-0. Naylor put him in with a great chance for scoring as he side-footed the ball into the Dutchman's path. Petta, the substitute in a number 12 shirt was far too casual. He tried to coolly chip the ball past Phillips instead of having a drive. The Bristol keeper made light work of his save and Petta was guilty of squandering a gilt-edged opportunity. Torpey was booked in time added on for a foul on Holland. Petta was also booked for a foul on Shail.
Result: Bristol City 0, Ipswich Town 1