Stead hits two as Blues win

Ipswich Town 3 Queens Park Rangers 0IPSWICH Town signed off a thoroughly miserable 2009 with an emphatic victory over QPR at Portman Road this afternoon.

Elvin King

Ipswich Town 3 Queens Park Rangers 0

IPSWICH Town signed off a thoroughly miserable 2009 with an emphatic victory over QPR at Portman Road this afternoon.

The Blues celebrated reaching the half way point in the Coca-Cola Championship season in style to gain their fourth win of the campaign and move further away from the bottom three places.

Jon Walters gave Ipswich an early boost with a third minute goal and although the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession as Town failed to retain the ball the score remained the same until Owen Garvan and Jack Colback were brought off the bench.

The Blues then started passing better and two superb goals by Jon Stead in the 64th and 77th minute put the icing on the cake and earned the home side their biggest win of the season.

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Town manager Roy Keane made some shock changes to his side with Colback, who he praised after Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, dropping out along with David Wright, Healy and Garvan.

Peters, who was the star man at Selhurst Park was switched from central midfield to left back! Wright lost his place in the squad altogether having allowed Danns to get goal-side of him for the Eagles' second goal.

Norris was back in the starting line-up for the first time since injuring his knee in the opening game of the season while skipper Walters and Leadbitter returned after serving a one-match ban and John came in up front after being ineligible against his parent club on Boxing Day.

Striker Stead was able to play after the Blues lodged an appeal following his red card at Palace. Bruce was back on the bench after recovering from a groin problem with young defender Brown called up to the squad. Wright and Healy, who was a shock selection on Saturday, disappeared from the squad altogether.

Rangers, who parted company with former Town boss Magilton earlier this month, made two changes with Stewart and Taarabt replacing Hall and Faurlin.

A protective tent had been up since last Wednesday and the ground staff had done a superb job with the pitch looking in immaculate order on a dry but rather dreary late December afternoon.

For the second home game running Ipswich got off to a fantastic start to relieve the gloom after Saturday's loss. John slipped Walters away down the left flank in the third minute, and the number 19 strode manfully forward for some distance before seeing his angled left-foot shot deflect off a lunging opponent over the keeper and into the net. It was leading scorer Walters' sixth goal of the campaign.

Buzsaky was being booed by Town fans no doubt upset about his part in the departure of Magilton from the Loftus Road-based club.

In the 16th minute Town should have added to their tally against a Rangers side that was going forward with purpose and looked to have goals in them.

Peters' pin-point long distant pass saw Walters arrive free at the far post. He bundled into Cerny with a scramble then taking place before Stewart went close to knocking the ball over his own line. A first-time Walters pass across the six-yard line to John would probably have served Town best.

Rangers should have equalised in the 22nd minute when Ramage crossed perfectly from the right and the ball went over Delaney to leave Taarabt with a free six-yard that he somehow managed to nod wide. A minute later Taarabt blasted miles too high from a similar distance, but his embarrassment was saved this time by an offside flag.

Town had struggled to string three passes together since the middle of the opening half with Garvan and Colback brought after 54 minutes to try and rectify this.

When Town do pass the ball around it leads to a second goal in the 64th minute. Leadbitter, Peters and Garvan were involved before Garvan found Stead with an accurate pass forward. The number 14 turned Gorkss superbly before curling an accurate 18 yard shot low into the corner of the net to Cerny's left.

It was Stead's fifth goal in nine matches and put the home team firmly in the driving seat.

Rangers eventually went two up front when the rangy Agyemang came on for Buzsaky with Town fans singing: 'You should have kept Jim Magilton.'

Simpson had a 74th minute header comfortably saved by Lee-Barrett but Ipswich were holding possession much more efficiently now.

Town made it three in the 77th minute as home fans enjoyed some great festive cheer. Rosenior put Walters through on the right and from his low cross, Cerny did well to push the ball away. But only as far as Stead, who netted with a low accurate 10 yard shot that beat two defenders and a keeper on the line to increase his tally to six.

In stoppage time Stead was denied a hat-trick by Cerny after a neat pass by Walters. Seconds later Stead ran on to Wickham's pass and fired a foot wide as Town ended very worthy winners.



Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, Peters; Walters, Norris (sub Colback 54 mins), Leadbitter, Edwards (Garvan 54); Stead, John (Wickham 74). Substitutes: McLoughlin, Bruce, Counago, Brown.

QPR: Cerny; Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Williams; Buzsaky (Agyemang 65), Watson, Leigertwood, Taarabt (Balanta 77); Routledge, Simpson. Substitutes: Taylor, Hall, Connolly, Faurlin, Borrowdale

Referee: Mr S Tanner (Somerset)

Attendance: 25,349.