Ipswich Town 0 Sunderland 2
KEVIN PHILLIPS is, for Ipswich Town, the one that got away. So there was a certain inevitability that, as the East Anglians stretched to 575 minutes their bleak sequence without a League goal, Sunderland's record-breaking striker would return to Portman Road where he had agreed terms last year and keep scoring.
Phillips had sat in George Burley's office last summer and agreed to join from Watford. But the Ipswich board refused to budge above their £250,000 valuation, Peter Reid nipped in and paid a smidgen more and the former Baldock Town shelf-stacker has responded with 40 goals in 54 games.
On Saturday it seemed Phillips, 25, could score as many as he liked as Sunderland, the country's most prolific team, went back to the First Division summit.
"I'd agreed personal terms but the clubs couldn't agree a fee," he said. "It was frustrating because I admit I wanted to come to Ipswich, which is only an hour's drive from my family, but as soon as I went up to Sunderland, saw the facilities and spoke to the manager, there was no looking back.
"Ipswich is a nice club, with a family feel, but Sunderland is huge: it's one of the biggest five in the country. Now we need to be in the Premiership and we have started well this season."
Sunderland's defeat at Ipswich in April effectively ended their chances of automatic promotion but now the two play-off losers have started this season in contrasting form. The visitors' habitual expertise in the upper reaches of this division - third last season, champions two seasons before - was apparent on Saturday in their physical dominance of the midfield and an ability to break swiftly as a unit.
When Mick Stockwell, limping and about to be substituted, could not keep his position, Alan Johnston played Nicky Summerbee's sweeping cross-field pass into the vacant space and Michael Gray overlapped to centre for John Mullin, a stop-gap midfielder, to score his second goal in a week.
That was the first League goal Ipswich had conceded this season and, after Alex Mathie hit a post, it was followed by the second. Phillips collected Matt Holland's accidental backpass and rounded Richard Wright.