Spirited Town lose late on

AFTER all the television clips of George Best's footballing genius, this weekend's live football was always going to be an anti-climax.And so it proved at Ninian Park last night when gallant Ipswich Town lost their Championship match at Cardiff City.

By Elvin King

AFTER all the television clips of George Best's footballing genius, this weekend's live football was always going to be an anti-climax.

And so it proved at Ninian Park last night when gallant Ipswich Town lost their Championship match at Cardiff City.

The Welsh side beat the Blues for the first time since November 1965 - but it took a last-minute goal from Jason Koumas to break the hearts of the Suffolk fans, who had travelled all the way to the principality.

Fabian Wilnis has had a rough time this season, not being sure of his place and things got worse in the 13th minute when he was sent off for what the referee saw as a foul on Cameron Jerome.

Mr Marriner also deemed that Wilnis was the last defender, so after pointing to the penalty spot he also produced a red card for a professional foul.

Most Read

Dutch defender Wilnis will now have to sit out Saturday's home match with Wolverhampton when Town will be looking to gain three points and get their season back on track.

Having been well beaten by leaders Reading last week, Ipswich need a lift and success in their next two home matches that come on consecutive Saturdays will be just what they require. If not, Christmas could be rather bleak around Portman Road.

Manager Joe Royle will be hoping for more good fortune than his team received last night when they fought valiantly against the odds and were probably worth a share of the spoils against a fairly ordinary Cardiff side.

While Town were completely out-played by Reading, they managed to pass the ball around in convincing style last night, despite being a man short and there were a number of pluses to come out of the game.

Nicky Forster battled manfully up front and gave his best performance of the season, although there was no cutting edge about Town's play until four minutes from the end, when Jimmy Juan struck with a delightfully taken free-kick.

This followed a foul on 17-year-old Billy Clarke after the Irish youngster had been brought down after making his debut as a 65th minute substitute.

With no Jim Magilton or Darren Currie on the field, French midfielder Juan took responsibility and his effort could not have been bettered as he curled the ball into the top corner of the goal.

The hard work looked as though it was going to gain some reward and stretch a run of away draws for Ipswich to four matches.

But then Koumas struck after cutting through the Town defence and giving keeper Lewis Price no chance with a strong shot.

Price was the Town hero in his first game in Wales since making his full international debut and the keeper saved the penalty from Michael Ricketts after Wilnis' foul.

It was not the best penalty ever seen at Ninian Park by any means, but Price did well to stand still and not commit himself when the former England international ran up to take the spot-kick.

Price will not be happy at conceding a goal at the near post in the 30th minute when Ricketts gave Cardiff the lead, but the 21-year-old distinguished himself in the second half with a string of fine saves, including a wonder stop when Ricketts blasted his effort towards the top corner from no more than ten yards.

Television cameras do not suit Town this season as they have now been beaten on the three occasions that satellite television have shown their games.

They were thrashed 4-0 at home to Preston and 2-0 away to Reading, but at least the armchair viewers were able to see a much more spirited and convincing Ipswich again.

They were after their first double of the season following a 1-0 victory at Portman Road on the opening day of the campaign and Royle made three changes with skipper Magilton, Wilnis and Forster coming in for Currie, Kevin Horlock and injured striker Sam Parkin.

Horlock came on in the 16th minute after Jay McEveley suffered a knee injury seconds before the penalty was conceded.

Horlock played at left-back for the rest of the game with Matt Richards continuing to buzz about in the middle of the field while keeping an eye on Koumas.

Forster had to battle away up front once Wilnis was dismissed and Richard Naylor moved back to his usual position at the heart of the defence.

Naylor had started up front as Forster's partner, with Wilnis playing beside Jason De Vos.

Dean Bowditch will surely feel disappointed at not being in the final sixteen with Parkin on the injured list. His manager selected Naylor to move up front while young Clarke and Adam Proudlock were on the bench.

Bowditch has the talent to make a name in the game, but at the moment his opportunities are few and far between.

At a ground where you can still stand along one side and behind one goal and in a country where it costs you almost a fiver to enter and nothing to depart, Ipswich did not have the best of evenings.

They are drifting away from the play-off positions, although the performance of Juan in midfield, Forster up front and Price in goal will give some optimism that a corner can be turned and enough points accrued over a hectic December period to give hope for a better second half to the season.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter