|Marcus on the Spot in Moscow|
Written by clivebleedingthomas on Thursday, 30th Apr 2020 09:00
The first leg had been played in the three-sided Portman Road, with no North Stand. Circumstances that many fans thought contributed to our relegation that season.
Titus Bramble’s low left-foot shot from 16 yards in the 85th minute had preserved Town’s unbeaten home record in European competitions, a record that still stands.
Town made the long trip to the vast Luzhniki Stadium, where there was an eerie atmosphere with only 10,500 present in the vast national stadium, a venue that resembled the old Wembley Stadium.
Most of the 1,200 Blues fans were escorted to the stadium very early, where they were entertained before the kick-off with highlights from the first leg shown on the large screen.
Many of them had bought emblematic Russian hats which were worn with pride at many home matches that followed, sparking many tales about their Russian adventure. Banners from the Halesworth and Harwich branches of the Supporters Club were clearly displayed.
Torpedo Moscow 1 Ipswich Town 2 UEFA Cup First Round Second Leg Wednesday 27th September 2001
The first half was a quiet affair with Town keeper Matteo Sereni a virtual spectator. Jim Magilton was booked as early as the ninth minute, when he annoyed the referee by taking a freekick too quickly.
The main incident of the half saw Town’s defence breached in the 21st minute with home striker Dmitry Vyazmikin presented with an open goal from eight yards. He managed to side-foot the ball against the underside of the bar from where it bounced to safety. It was described widely in the next morning’s press as being a miss on a par with the great open-goal misses of all-time.
The feeling that it might just be Town’s evening was strengthened a minute later when Aleksandr Shirko burst past a couple of defenders only to shoot into the side netting.
Mark Venus, drafted in for the injured Bramble, was causing problems with his well-taken corners creating panic in the home penalty box. One such corner found Hermann Hreidarsson at the far post, but he was unable to make the most of the opportunity.
The second half began well for the Blues. In the 48th minute Venus was again the provider. His corner was headed on by Jamie Clapham before rebounding off Marcus Stewart to set up a gilt-edged chance for Finidi George to net from six yards.
Brimming with confidence, the Nigerian was also involved in the second goal, six minutes after the first. Clapham provided a dangerous cross prompting a Torpedo defender to impede George as he tried to reach the cross. The French referee adjudged that George had been pulled back: penalty.
Stewart was given a confidence boost as skipper Matt Holland handed him the ball. Town’s striker had put a spot kick wide in the first leg. This time his left-foot shot was accurately placed just inside the post.
Torpedo, needing three goals to win on aggregate, changed their formation. Their sweeper, Vyacheslav Daev, was pushed forward and the Russians were transformed into a threat.
In the 66th minute Vyazmikin, the leading goalscorer in the Russian League, beat Town’s offside trap and Sereni, scoring via the far post.
Sereni was now being truly tested, making excellent saves in the 73rd and 82nd minutes.
Manager George Burley made a number of changes to strengthen Town’s ability to withstand the onslaught. Jermaine Wright replaced George in the 69th minute, Richard Naylor came on for striker Alun Armstrong with six minutes left and Tommy Miller made his Town debut replacing Clapham for the last few minutes.
Having survived the closing stages the Town players went over to acknowledge their jubilant fans. Midnight in Moscow beckoned, promising a celebration.
Teams: Torpedo Moscow: Berezovsky, Daev, Malai, Jolovic (Lakic 81), Lukhvich, Sadjaia (Gashkin 58), Leonchenko, Kormyitsev (Semshov 41), Zyryanov, Shirko, Vyasmikin.
Town: Sereni, Makin, McGreal, Venus, Hreidarsson, George (Wright 69), Magilton, Holland, Clapham (Miller 86), Armstrong (Naylor 84), Stewart.
Town’s back four of Chris Makin, Mark Venus, John McGreal and Hermann Hreidarsson were praised by their manager for a resilient performance. Burley also praised Stewart for his strength of character when stepping forward to take the all-important penalty.
For the fans, trips to Sweden and Italy lay ahead, but the league season ended in relegation and the start of our long, continuing exile from the top flight.
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