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Oxford’s visit sparks memories of a bizarre night at Portman Road for Town icon Holland

PUBLISHED: 14:54 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 21 February 2020

Richard Wright left the field in Town's clash with Oxford in 1998, meaning Matt Holland went in goal. Picture: ARCHANT

Richard Wright left the field in Town's clash with Oxford in 1998, meaning Matt Holland went in goal. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Ask an Ipswich Town fan for memories of seeing their side take on Oxford and, chances are, Matt Holland will be brought up in the conversation.

Matt Holland had to play in goal as Town beat Oxford United 5-2 at Portman Road in February 1998Matt Holland had to play in goal as Town beat Oxford United 5-2 at Portman Road in February 1998

Rewind back to February 24, 1998 and the midfielder had an eventful evening as he played a central role in the Blues' 5-2 victory over Oxford United.

He began in the centre of midfield, of course, but within 10 minutes found himself clad in green, between the sticks, after No.1 Richard Wright suffered a blow to the face which required him to leave the field for stitches.

With no goalkeeper on the three-man bench, Holland took the gloves but was soon picking the ball out of the net as towering striker Kevin Francis turned the ball home from a corner.

But, to a big cheer, Wright soon returned from the Portman Road dressing room and resumed his position, with Ipswich scoring four goals to take control of the contest.

Matt Holland conceded a goal during his brief stint in goal. Picture: ARCHANTMatt Holland conceded a goal during his brief stint in goal. Picture: ARCHANT

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First Alex Mathie scored before David Johnson added a brace, with Holland's night going full circle as he found the back of the net to seemingly secure the win.

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O'Neill Donaldson grabbed one back for the visitors from the spot, after Holland had given away a penalty, before Johnson completed the scoring from the spot late on in a 5-2 victory.

Richard Wright leaves the field to have stitches in a facial injury against Oxford in 1998. Picture: ARCHANTRichard Wright leaves the field to have stitches in a facial injury against Oxford in 1998. Picture: ARCHANT

That victory was the fourth in a run of seven-successive home victories for George Burley's Blues and was the third time in a row they had scored five goals, following wins over Huddersfield and Norwich City.

Holland also scored on Oxford's last visit to Portman Road, as the Blues won 2-1 in February 1999. The midfielder opened the scoring on six minutes before Mark Venus scored what proved to be the winner on eight.

The game was perhaps most memorable for a shocking goal-line miss from loanee Marlon Harewood.


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