Ipswich slump to silky Saints

Ipswich Town 1 Southampton 3: IPSWICH Town can be sure that their relegation fears are far from over after losing 3-1 at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.

Ipswich Town 1 Southampton 3

IPSWICH Town can be sure that their relegation fears are far from over after losing 3-1 at home to fellow strugglers Southampton. The win for the Saints lifts them eight points clear of third-from-bottom Blackburn but Ipswich remain fifteenth in the league, dangerously close to the Premiership's trapdoor.

In a scrappy first-half both sides played with passion and commitment without creating many clear chances.

Southampton came closest to scoring when Titus Bramble was robbed by Brett Ormerod. Ormerod played the ball to Kevin Davies to shoot and he forced a great save from Andy Marshall. The ball ran loose to Rory Delap but with the goal at his mercy he hit the post.

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In the second-half the chances and the goals came all too quickly and after 50 minutes Delap made amends for his first-half miss.

Southampton won a questionable free-kick just a yard outside the Town area. Paul Telfer back-heeled the ball into the path of Delap who hit the shot which deflected off Marcus Stewart and past Andy Marshall in the Ipswich goal.

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On the hour mark Town were in deeper trouble. Southampton quickly turned defence into attack with a long ball forward and Ormerod raced away from the Ipswich defence before dispatching the ball past Marshall with a stylish finish.

Ipswich gave themselves a lifeline with nine minutes left when Finidi George forced the ball home from a Mark Venus corner which Matt Holland had turned back into the danger area. The Southampton players claimed that the ball hadn't gone over the line and appealed to referee Mike Halsey but the goal stood.

Town piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and there were strong claims for a penalty when Jamie Clapham's cross appeared to hit a Southampton defender on the arm in the Saints' penalty area.

But Referee Halsey once again ignored the players' appeals and it proved to be Ipswich's last chance.

With just four minutes remaining Southampton scored the vital goal which clinched the points. The impressive Chris Marsden showed exceptional skills bursting into the Ipswich area past two Town defenders before rounding Marshall and slotting the ball into the empty net.

It ended a disappointing afternoon for Ipswich and it means that there is still plenty of work to do before Town complete their great escape.

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