Turf luck for Town

IPSWICH are spending thousands of pounds to relay the Portman Road pitch.The new surface will be laid in time for the next home game on Saturday week against Leeds United.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH are spending thousands of pounds to relay the Portman Road pitch.

The new surface will be laid in time for the next home game on Saturday week against Leeds United.

The work will be done by the same company who relaid the pitches at Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, in recent years.


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New, 40-millimetre rolls of turf will be transported from Holland and although Town are not putting a price on the work I understand it will set them back a substantial five-figure sum.

The project will get under way tomorrow with the removal of the existing pitch, then the new one will be put in place over the weekend.

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Manager Jim Magilton, who will supervise a training session on the new surface on Thursday week, said: “I am delighted the club have made this decision now.

“We preach good football at this club and when the new pitch is down we will hopefully get the ball down and pass it the way we want to.”

The current playing surface has come in for a lot of criticism this season, most recently on Saturday from point-saving penalty hero Alan Lee.

The Republic of Ireland international, who secured a 1-1 draw against Burnley thanks to his stoppage time spot-kick, blamed the pitch for the fact that he fluffed an earlier chance.

Ten yards out and with only Burnley keeper Danny Coyne to beat, he was about to stroke the ball home when it bobbled and came off his shin to fly well wide.

Opposition managers and players have also commented on the state of the pitch, which has failed to recover after being contaminated because of a problem at a nearby pumping station.

Magilton added: “We have given it a chance to see if we could bring it through but after Saturday's game it was decided we only had one alternative left to us.

“The ground staff have worked very, very hard on it but to no avail. By doing the job now it means we won't have to do it in the summer.”

Magilton was at pains to point out that he wasn't using the pitch as an excuse for Town's results this season.

They have managed just one win in their last seven games and Magilton laughed: “By putting down a new pitch it takes another excuse away from the players.

“But seriously, going back a lot of years this club always had a fantastic playing surface and once the new one is bedded down we look forward to getting out there.”

What do you think? Are Ipswich right to relay the pitch? Write to Sports Desk, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or alternatively you can e-mail:

starsport@eveningstar.co.uk

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