Marshall's horror show is blow for Town

Leeds United 2 Ipswich Town 0: A HORRENDOUS mistake by Ipswich goalkeeper Andy Marshall just 16 seconds into the second half started Ipswich's slide to their third successive Premiership defeat at Elland Road last night.

Leeds United 2 Ipswich Town 0

A HORRENDOUS mistake by Ipswich goalkeeper Andy Marshall just 16 seconds into the second half started Ipswich's slide to their third successive Premiership defeat at Elland Road last night.

Ipswich were caught cold as Mark Viduka played the ball into the path of Robbie Fowler just outside the penalty area. His shot had hardly any pace but the ball must have played some sort of trick in the swirling wind or how else could Marshall have allowed it to bounce over him and into the net.

Marshall is not the first goalkeeper to be beaten by a cruel bounce but this was a soft goal however one looked at it which Ipswich, in their present plight, could ill afford.

The breeze made it difficult for players of both sides and accounted for misplaced passes throughout the 90 minutes. Salt was rubbed in Ipswich wounds in the 77th minute when Leeds added a second goal from the penalty spot. A back-header from Jamie Clapham held up in the wind. Alan Smith spotted his chance and charged towards goal taking a tumble as he collided with Marshall.

The Town keeper was booked and a spot-kick awarded but it seemed there was little he could do about it. Ian Harte sent Marshall the wrong way and Ipswich hopes were as good as over. Leeds players went straight to the touchline to celebrate with coach Brian Kidd in a public show of support for a member of the backroom staff who has been given a hard time by the fans.

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Defeat was bitterly disappointing because an out-of-sorts Leeds could have been there for the taking, but by the end there could be no argument.

The first half was forgettable. Alun Armstrong went close for Ipswich with a header just wide of the far post from a corner by Mark Venus. Shots from Jim Magilton and Matt Holland were not far off the mark as Ipswich went in search of an equaliser but Nigel Martyn looked secure in the Leeds goal.

Ipswich still find themselves in the thick of the relegation struggle with forthcoming matches at Blackburn and Bolton now assuming tremendous importance.

Ipswich tried a new attacking formation of Marcus Stewart and Armstrong which cut little ice although the former did some useful work in deep positions. Defensively Ipswich were especially well served by John McGreal and Fabian Wilnis, the latter a surprise selection after being told he can leave the club on a free transfer.

Venus caused Leeds concern with some of his left-foot deliveries but the conditions ruled out much fluent attacking play and many of the exchanges turned into something of a lottery.

In the opening minute McGreal made a vital interception to nick the ball away from Fowler on the edge of the penalty area.

Clapham, preferred to Reuser out on the left, headed a hopeful ball forward for Armstrong to chase but Matteo was back to cover.

It was a tame opening with both sides nervous for different reasons. In the eighth minute a long ball forward from Ferdinand swerved in the breeze but McGreal kept cool and managed to clear before Viduka could gain control.

The home fans were subdued which was hardly surprising as Leeds were without a win since New Year's Day.

There were few fluent moves and when Smith tried to send Kelly away down the Leeds right Clapham cut out the threat with a sliding tackle.

Leeds won the first corner on the quarter-hour but too many balls proved to be aimless with the first shot of the match coming from Fowler in the 17th minute. It was wind assisted from 30 yards but Marshall held the ball cleanly.

Even that failed to get much response from home fans although they livened up when Stewart tripped Batty just inside the Leeds half. Ferdinand hoisted the free-kick into the penalty area where, once again, McGreal beat the gloved Viduka in the air.

In the 20th minute Marshall rescued Ipswich when he flung himself full length to his right to turn aside an angled shot from Kelly after good build-up between Smith and Viduka.

McGreal conceded a free-kick for a foul on Viduka 30 yards out but the kick was charged down. Marshall upset home fans when he delayed taking a goal-kick because the ball kept moving. Referee Gallagher realised it was not Marshall's fault but added on time. On the half-hour Harte headed behind for a corner to deal with a teasing ball from Magilton.

The flag-kick, taken by Magilton on the left, was punched away by Martyn for another corner, this time on the right. It led to the best Ipswich chance of the first half when Venus delivered the ball left-footed into the goalmouth. Armstrong rose to head just wide at the far post.

Stewart was far more involved than he had been against Southampton on Saturday but Leeds were seeing more of the ball. In the 33rd minute Smith sent Kewell down the Leeds left. His driven cross was flicked away by Hreidarsson in the nick of time as Viduka was closing in for the kill.

Wilnis headed behind to cope with a cross from Smith on the right and the Dutchman was doing well as a replacement for the injured Makin.

When Venus fired a free-kick from the left into the Leeds penalty area Hreidarsson went in bravely but was clattered by defenders.

There was controversy as Wilnis went down holding his head after a clash with Kewell just inside the Ipswich half. The video suggested that Kewell's arm had caused the damage.

Martyn was in two minds as Venus flung another free-kick high into the Leeds penalty area but this time the ball flew behind for a goal-kick. At the other end Wilnis headed behind from Viduka and Marshall was fouled as he tried to deal with the corner.

Marshall must have red-faced when he conceded the opening goal which ended a barren spell of more than seven hours for the Yorkshire club.

Ipswich tried to force the pace to get themselves back on level terms and there was certainly greater urgency for a while but Leeds overall had more of the possession.

Smith went down in the penalty area and was perhaps risking a booking for a dive. McGreal was in the vicinity but there was certainly no trip.

In the 59th minute a shot from Magilton took a deflection for a corner off Ferdinand. Martyn was at full stretch to cut out the corner from Venus in the goalmouth.

Hreidarsson's header from another Venus corner in the 63rd minute was blocked by Martyn but it would not have counted because the whistle had blown for a foul.

Batty was booked for a late challenge on Wilnis and then McGreal was shown the yellow card. It looked a ridiculous decision for what seemed a fair challenge on Smith.

All sorts of rubbish was swirling about all over the pitch as Leeds started to dominate. Marshall blocked one cross with his boot and Wilnis charged down a fierce drive.

Marshall held a long shot from Fowler in the 72nd minute but once Leeds had scored their second from the penalty spot it was virtually game set and match.

They might have had more. Kelly went close and Hreidarsson denied Fowler with a goal-line save.

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