|Lambert's Goals Take Town to the Top|
Written by clivebleedingthomas on Thursday, 26th Mar 2020 09:00
The summer of 1974 had been an anxious period for Town fans. Will he or won’t he leave us? That question hung over us as uncertainty grew about Bobby Robson’s future. Don Revie had left Leeds to take up the England job and Bobby was seen as his likely successor.
I had enjoyed a family holiday camping on the north coast of Spain; a holiday tainted by the pessimism expressed by my dad, by then convinced we would lose our football club’s leader.
However, our worries had evaporated by the time the season opened on 17th August. The mood brightened even more as we notched up successive one-nil away wins at White Hart Lane and Highbury, followed by a 2-0 home victory against Burnley.
Tuesday 27th August 1974 Ipswich Town 3 Arsenal 0
It was normal back in the seventies for reverse fixtures to be played within a week of the first match. Thus just seven days after Mick Lambert had scored the game’s only goal at Highbury, the Gunners were facing an unbeaten Town team at Portman Road.
Attacking Churchman's End it took only five minutes for Town to open the scoring. Brian Talbot made an interception deep in his own half and then sprinted 60 yards to get on the end of a David Johnson pass. He centred to Trevor Whymark who headed across goal to set up Mick Lambert to head the ball past Rimmer in the Arsenal goal.
In the ninth minute the Town doubled their lead. Lambert had been fouled out wide on the left. Viljoen’s exquisite chipped freekick was met with a typically powerful Kevin Beattie header sending the ball into the Churchman's net.
Town continued to dominate and thrill the 28,035 Tuesday evening crowd. Thus it came as no surprise that they extended their lead to 3-0 in the 32nd minute. George Burley’s freekick from out on the right-hand touchline was met by Beattie as he leapt high above the Arsenal defence to head goalwards. Mick Lambert nipped in to touch the ball past Rimmer, thus scoring his third goal against the outclassed Gunners in a week.
The second half saw the Town domination continue and only outstanding goalkeeping by Rimmer saved the Londoners from outright humiliation. Town controlled the midfield with Colin Viljoen using his ability to switch the point of attack, with his astute passes, to great effect. Trevor Whymark had the beating of the Arsenal defence in the air throughout the game.
Tributes were paid to Bobby Robson’s team at the end of the evening. One well-known journalist stating that this Ipswich team was far better than the League Championship winning team of 1961/62.
Brian Kidd and Charlie George, two of the visiting forwards, rated Kevin Beattie as the best central defender in Europe. His partnership with Allan Hunter showed a great understanding of one another’s game and was a major factor leading to the statistic that after four matches Ipswich Town were top of Division One, played four, won four, goals conceded none.
Beattie’s home town club, Carlisle United, were in third position at this stage, enjoying their first and only season in the top flight. Their three wins had given them a great start, but it was a misleading run of form and they finished bottom of the league.
Town team: Sivell, Burley, Mills, Talbot, Hunter, Beattie, Hamilton, Viljoen, Johnson (sub. Woods 85 mins), Whymark, Lambert.
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