Kuqi injury mars fine Town victory
Ipswich Town 2 Charlton Athletic 0By Elvin KingA WONDER strike by Owen Garvan and a precise finish by Danny Haynes deservedly won Ipswich Town all three Coca-Cola Championship points at Portman Road this afternoon.
Ipswich Town 2 Charlton Athletic 0
By Elvin King
A WONDER strike by Owen Garvan and a precise finish by Danny Haynes deservedly won Ipswich Town all three Coca-Cola Championship points at Portman Road this afternoon.
With seven clubs in serious competition for the fifth and sixth play-off places, the Blues moved level on points with Charlton, who started the day in fifth place.
Garvan's goal came in the 20th minute with a spectacular 22-yard angled drive that flew over Nicky Weaver and entered the net off the top of the far post.
Haynes struck with a 18-yard volley in the 52nd minute with the home side fully deserving their win in an action-packed match.
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New signing Shefki Kuqi came on as a 70th minute substitute, but was carried off on a stretcher after pulling what looked like a hamstring in the 84th minute - with Town ending the game with ten men.
Ipswich made one change from the side that lost 4-1 at Barnsley with Naylor being replaced by Sito, who was making his first start since being sent off at Blackpool on January 19. Bruce moved to central defence to partner De Vos with Sito coming in to play at full-back.
Haynes was fit enough to take his place on the bench, and with Walters out for up to six weeks because of a cartilage operation Kuqi has been signed on loan from Crystal Palace - and the Finland international was named on the bench.
Charlton played with just one player up front - Lita - and they had five in midfield with Chinese international Zhi coming in to take the place of striker Gray.
Two former Town players were in the Addicks line-up - former skipper Holland and goalscoring midfielder Ambrose.
After just 12 seconds Semedo made a mistake and Lee went galloping through to create space beside McCarthy and shoot wide from 18 yards.
Lita won a tenth-minute corner off Bruce following a mistake by Wright, and Bruce was given a hefty whack by an opponent as he headed away the resultant dead-ball kick.
Halford was likely to be a weak link for the visitors, and when Quinn went round him, Counago won a corner. This was only cleared as far as Norris, who drove the ball back into the middle.
Lee was unable to get in a shot, but Bruce saw his 15th-minute lob acrobatically tipped over the bar at full stretch by Weaver.
Holland was busy in midfield, with Ambrose playing on the right side, and Thomas showing pace down the left.
Thatcher won an 18th-minute corner from the left, and Halford climbed above friend and foe alike to send a six-yard header thumping against the bar. It was a close call with Town happy to be able to boot clear the loose ball.
Two minutes later Portman Road came to life with one of the contenders for goal of the season. A corner found its way back to GARVAN, and he made ground down the left to fire in a drive that flew over Weaver and into the net off the top part of the far post. Whether Garvan meant it as a shot or a cross from five yards away from the by-line and 22 yards out remains to be seen, but it was certainly a wonder goal and Garvan's third of the season.
In the 23rd minute - with Ipswich having their tails up - Lee went down in the box after a challenge from Ambrose. The referee looked to his assistant for help, waited some while and then blew to give Charlton a free-kick, and to book Lee for diving.
It was certainly not a clear-cut dive, although both Lee and McCarthy were soon spoken to by the referee as the game became littered with heavy challenges and fouls.
Norris had been limping for some time, and in the 25th minute he was replaced by Haynes.
Counago was put free in the 29th minute of what was now a spicy encounter, with the Spaniard cutting back inside to create space to send in a left-foot drive that Weaver held well as he dived to his right.
There were calls for McCarthy to be shown a red card after Lee appeared to get an elbow in the face. But after a chat with his assistant, Mr Miller issued a yellow card.
A tremendous pass by Holland after 36 minutes gave Ambrose the chance to shoot from an angle, the ball being volleyed over Bywater's bar.
Ambrose put the ball in the net but was offside before Haynes' deep cross in the 38th minute of a lively bout was met by Quinn beyond the far post. The number 25 had little chance to see the ball and his header went well wide of the near post.
A swift Charlton move involving Zhi and Ambrose resulted in the busy Lita having his first-time shot from a right-wing cross saved by Bywater.
In the 43rd minute Lee had a great chance to increase Town's lead. Counago's lay-off from Bruce's pass forward was spot-on, and Quinn made acres of ground before crossing perfectly from the right. Lee got above his marker but cleared the bar by a foot with his six-yard header.
There were no further changes at the interval, and within a minute it was all happening. Wright showed trickery to cross well from the right, and when Lee laid the ball square to Quinn, four Charlton players converged on the ball.
The visitors cleared up field smartly, and it needed a timely tackle by Bruce to deny Lita as he was about to shoot - with the ball rolling to Thomas.
The number 14 drove an 18-yard shot that looked goal-bound against a disorganised Town rearguard until De Vos got his head to the ball to direct it over the bar.
Town scored a second splendid goal in the 52nd minute. It followed a corner from the left taken by Quinn and was converted by HAYNES for his sixth goal of the season. Quinn's kick was cleared as far as Haynes standing on the 18-yard line. The substitute drew back his right foot and volleyed a first time shot that gave Weaver little chance at his near post.
The goal appeared to galvanise the visitors who went close to a goal and a penalty. Lita found himself right in front of goal as Town tried desperately to get a foot on the ball. There was a suspicion of a push on the on-loan Reading striker before Bruce was able to get in a block. Then, Haynes gave the ball away carelessly, and Thomas went to ground under a challenge from Bruce that brought claims for a spot kick from visiting players.
Former Colchester striker Iwelumo came on for Semedo after 58 minutes, and with Ipswich still on the back foot, Bruce needed attention for a nose bleed after conceding a free-kick.
Iwelumo added weight - and numbers - to the Charlton front line, but it was Town who went close in the 64th minute when Lee won a throw-in, and Counago was put in to send a strong 20-yard shot a foot wide.
Spaniard Sito then did brilliantly to clip the ball for a corner as a cross was heading into the path of the lurking Ambrose with the Blues having to defend in numbers and unable to build many attacks.
There was a big cheer went up when Kuqi appeared stripped for action in front of the dug-out and the number 32 received and even bigger cheer when he replaced Counago after 70 minutes.
Kuqi had gone up front giving the hard-working Lee some assistance. In the 75th minute Lee was sent tumbling by Sodje as Town won a corner that was cleared by McCarthy.
Lee was soon back in action after treatment and fighting for every ball as Ipswich looked to protect their advantage. Charlton's fans rose to their feet in the 77th minute to celebrate a goal, but the flag had been up for three seconds before Iwelumo netted off the underside of the bar.
Town made their third substation after 80 minutes when Miller came on and Lee received a great ovation as he went in the opposite direction.
Kuqi was now up front on his own, with Ipswich having a five-man midfield. The visitors brought on strikers Varney and Gray for Lita and Zhi after 82 minutes.
With Walters and Naylor injured and Norris having to depart this game early, it was blow when Kuqi pulled up when chasing a forward pass. It looked like a lengthy absence with a pulled hamstring, and the substitute was carried off on a stretcher.
This left Ipswich with ten man for the last five minutes as they had used their substitutes - with Haynes doing the running up front as Kuqi received sympathetic claps as he was carried along the touchline to the dressing room.
There was four minutes of stoppage time, but Charlton were looking a ragged bunch and having no punch in attack.