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On this day in Town’s history: A ridiculously early bath for a Pilgrims defender

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 March 2020

Alan Lee celebrates his goal in a 3-0 win over Plymouth in March 2007

Alan Lee celebrates his goal in a 3-0 win over Plymouth in March 2007

In our daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history, selecting one particular year, this time from 13 years ago when an opposition defender was sent off for an early bath inside two minutes

Owen Garvan celebrates netting his first goal of the season, against Plymouth on March 31, 2007Owen Garvan celebrates netting his first goal of the season, against Plymouth on March 31, 2007

I find that it usually always helps, in terms of getting a result, when an opposing player is sent off inside the first two minutes of a game.

And that’s exactly what happened when Plymouth Argyle made the 600-mile round trip to Suffolk and back for a Championship encounter on March 31, 2007.

Poor Pilgrims fans. Having endured such a mega journey on the coach, up the M5, across the M4, M25 and A12, they had hardly settled into their seats at Portman Road when their French defender Mathias Doumbe was disappearing down the tunnel to take an early bath.

Doumbe was flashed the red card, much to the fury of manager Ian Holloway, after just two minutes and Town cashed in against the 10 men to win 3-0.

Poacher Alan Lee scores from close range, against Plymouth, in a 3-0 win at Portman Road in March 2007Poacher Alan Lee scores from close range, against Plymouth, in a 3-0 win at Portman Road in March 2007

To rub salt into the wounds, it was a controversial decision by referee Jon Moss, a Leeds-based teacher, to send off Doumbe after a collision with Town front-runner Jonathan Walters after just 40 seconds.

Moss initially waved play on, but then responded to some flag waving by his assistant, and after consultation, chose to show Doumbe the red card.

Doumbe, 27, was displeased, to say the least, especially as he set a new club record for the quickest sending-off featuring a Plymouth player.

He said: “I caught up with the Ipswich player (Walters), stood my ground and ran with him.

All smiles as Alan Lee celebrates his 15th minute goal in the 3-0 win over Plymouth, in March 2007All smiles as Alan Lee celebrates his 15th minute goal in the 3-0 win over Plymouth, in March 2007

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Owen Garvan celebrates his goal in the 3-0 win over Plymouth, from 13 years ago. It was Garvan's only goal of the season.Owen Garvan celebrates his goal in the 3-0 win over Plymouth, from 13 years ago. It was Garvan's only goal of the season.

“When he went down I looked back and the referee was making a clear sign that it was nothing.

“Even when I saw him going to talk to the linesman, I did not bother.

“I thought it was obvious what had happened – we were shoulder to shoulder – so I couldn’t believe it when I was given the red card,” added Doumbe.

It didn’t get any happier for Plymouth, or Holloway, as Town then raced into a 2-0 lead through Owen Garvan and Alan Lee inside the first quarter-of-an-hour to effectively end the game as a conquest.

Danny Haynes celebrates his goal, a late third in a 3-0 win over PlymouthDanny Haynes celebrates his goal, a late third in a 3-0 win over Plymouth

Garvan curled home his first goal of the season, in the ninth minute, and leading scorer Lee doubled the lead. He was to end the season with 17 goals (16 in the league).

The match rather drifted towards its inevitable conclusion, although substitute Danny Haynes did net a third goal for Town late on.

The result was notable for several reasons, not least seeing Town leapfrog arch rivals Norwich City in the Championship table after the Canaries were sunk by Colchester United at Layer Road on the same day.

For the record, Jamie Cureton, Richard Garcia and Chris Iwelumo were all on target in the U’s 3-0 demolition of Norwich.

As for Doumbe, he didn’t let that red card, or apparent injustice, upset him for too long.

He stayed at Plymouth for five seasons, and the swift right-sided centre-half then went on to play regularly for MK Dons and Northampton, rattling up 371 career appearances in all.


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