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Ipswich 1 Fulham 0 - Match Report

last updated Wednesday 30th January 2002, 11:56 PM
Ipswich climbed out of the Premiership's bottom three with their sixth victory in seven matches at Portman Road.

George Burley's side were seemingly down-and-out six weeks ago with just one league win all season.

But 18 points from a possible 21, thanks in no small part to the goals of Marcus Bent, have them better placed to become the first side in 10 years of the Premier League to be bottom at Christmas and survive.

It was Bent's 10th-minute goal that settled the contest in front of the Suffolk club's best crowd of the season, 25,156.

Fulham Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar
Fulham Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar keeps the score down to one

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Ipswich captain Matt Holland made his 200th consecutive league appearance, having started every match since his £800,000 move from Bournemouth in the summer of 1997.

Burley did make changes, however, following the 4-1 FA Cup drubbing at the hands of Manchester City with Marcus Stewart, Martijn Reuser, Titus Bramble and Fabian Wilnis axed. In came Alun Armstrong, Jamie Clapham, Mark Venus and Chris Makin.

Mid-table Fulham, draw specialists in the Premiership, had lost just five times in the top-flight upon arriving in Suffolk.

But inspired by Argentinian midfielder Sixto Peralta and the enthusiastic Bent, the Blues made it a round half-dozen.

Bent, paired up front with Armstrong, was presented with the first chance of the contest in the seventh minute, but his header from Venus' cross had the pace taken off it by an Alain Goma block and Edwin van der Sar smothered.

The hosts only had to wait another couple of minutes, though, to open the scoring as Bent scored his seventh goal in eight matches.

Peralta sent Armstrong racing down the left and as he cut into the area to shoot, Zat Knight's sliding tackle looped the ball over van der Sar and Bent made sure by sidefooting in from on the line.

Fulham's response came from Louis Saha, who weaved his way into the area but over-ran the ball and Makin shepherded back to Andy Marshall.

Home keeper Marshall then made two interventions as Fulham sought a leveller as Venus' miskick left him scurrying to palm around an upright.

And when Steed Malbranque found room for a shot, he recovered to collect after the initial effort squirmed through his grasp.

Yet Burley's side could have gone in at the break with their advantage doubled.

John McGreal rose above everyone and beat van der Sar, who had strayed out of position, but somehow headed a Venus corner wide.

Bent also found power but not direction when Hermann Hreidarsson's left-wing cross picked him out and van der Sar collected above his head.

Fulham manager Jean Tigana responded at the break by introducing Barry Hayles and John Collins in place of Knight and Bjarne Goldbaek.
Match Stats Ipswich Fulham
Goal attempts 13 7
On Target 8 3
Hit woodwork 0 0
Fouls 18 11
Offsides 4 1
Corners 8 5
Yellows 1 2
Reds 0 0
source: www.sports.com

Within a minute of the restart they may have been two goals behind as lacklustre defending allowed the ball to reach Holland 20 yards from goal - but his shot swerved inches wide.

Tigana's tinkering, which resulted in Saha switching to the left flank, provided the visitors with a better balance.

It also meant they enjoyed a greater share of possession with Collins hoovering up anything untidy in the middle of the field.

In fact, the veteran midfielder went closest for the Londoners in the second period as his free-kick forced Marshall to touch behind for a corner, scrambling to his left.

Bent's pace sent him clear of the Fulham rearguard moments later and the visitors were thankful for Steve Finnan's awareness as the full-back blocked Clapham at the far post from the striker's cross after van der Sar and Goma got in a tangle.

Ipswich's in-form frontman should have made absolutely sure of the points six minutes from time, however, as Peralta's toe-poke guided him goalwards.

But, for once, Bent failed to keep his composure and the on-rushing van der Sar blocked with his legs.

Ipswich: Marshall, Makin, McGreal, Venus, Hreidarsson, Wright (Reuser 83), Holland, Peralta, Clapham, Marcus Bent, Armstrong (Stewart 69).

Subs Not Used: Sereni, Counago, Bramble.

Booked: McGreal.

Goals: Marcus Bent 10.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Goldbaek (Collins 45), Knight (Hayles 45), Malbranque, Legwinski (Ouaddou 68), Marlet, Saha.

Subs Not Used: Taylor, Stolcers.

Booked: Goma (31) foul, Finnan (82) dissent.

Att: 25,156

Ref: A Wiley (Burntwood)
Source PA Sport by Richard Gibson
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