Town's blushes spared by Matt's strike
IPSWICH Town had to rely on a late equaliser from Matt Richards to spare their blushes against Scottish Division Two side Brechin City last night. An early goal from highly-rated 18-year-old Billy Clarke did not open the floodgates as expected in the match staged as part of Brechin's centenary celebrations and instead gave Ipswich false confidence which cost them dear as first Stuart Callaghan and then Charlie King scored to give the part-timers a half-time lead.
IPSWICH Town had to rely on a late equaliser from Matt Richards to spare their blushes against Scottish Division Two side Brechin City last night.
An early goal from highly-rated 18-year-old Billy Clarke did not open the floodgates as expected in the match staged as part of Brechin's centenary celebrations and instead gave Ipswich false confidence which cost them dear as first Stuart Callaghan and then Charlie King scored to give the part-timers a half-time lead.
Richards' late equaliser allowed Ipswich to leave with their respect intact, but the most pleasing thing for Jim Magilton - who made a cameo appearance of his own - was the superb performance of Clarke.
The first Ipswich chance came after nine minutes, with the superb Clarke twisting and turning on the edge of the area before sending a powerful shot curling just over the crossbar.
They only had four more minutes to wait for the opening goal, though, and it came from Clarke's deadly left foot. Brechin failed to heed the earlier warning and once again afforded the young Irishman too much space on the edge of the area.
This time there was no mistake as he sent an unstoppable effort bending round goalkeeper Craig Nelson.
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The home side did have the ball in the net after 29 minutes following a poor clearance by Richard Naylor which allowed Callaghan to send Chris Geddes through to score but the linesman spared his blushes by flagging for offside.
Ipswich had no such safety net a minute later, however, as Brechin equalised.
Steven Hampshire was given too much space on the right and if they underestimated his ability they were left shocked as he planted a perfect cross on to Callaghan's head for him to bullet it beyond Shane Supple.
A wave of indecision swept through the visitors and they could have no complaints about losing a second goal eight minutes before half-time.
Once again they were slow to react to another deep run from former Dunfermline man Hampshire and were caught square as he slipped a ball through for King to slot home.
Magilton made the obligatory flurry of substitutions at the break, replacing Darren Currie, Sylvain Legwinski, Dan Harding and Naylor with Martin Brittain, Scott Barron, Dean Bowditch and Sammy Moore.
Brittain almost made an immediate impact with his first touch, picking out Clarke with a superb cross from the right but the youngster fired his header over from point-blank range.
The lively Brittain went close to an equaliser with a wicked free-kick in the 59th minute, but despite getting the ball up and over the wall, his effort skimmed the outside of a post.
Ipswich began to pile on the pressure and Richards should have scored with a 66th-minute header but somehow contrived to nod Clarke's deep cross wide of the post.
Alex Bruce then gave his manager a scare by coming off second best in a challenge with Hampshire.
That meant Fabian Wilnis, who had been replaced by Sito Castro ten minutes earlier, was asked to don a new strip - No. 13 this time - and re-enter the fray.
To add to the bizarre feel of the evening, Magilton, who 37, played the final 20 minutes in place of Macken.
Richards atoned for his earlier miss by scoring a wonderful volley to salvage some pride with only eight minutes left.
Ipswich: Supple, Wilnis (Castro 60), Walton, Bruce (Wilnis 68), Harding (Barron 46), Legwinski (Bowditch 46), Walton, Currie (Brittain 46), Naylor (Moore 46), Clarke and Macken (Magilton 70). Unused sub: De Vos.