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Town 1 - 1 West Ham
Town 1 - 1 West Ham
Saturday, 14th Oct 2000 17:36

Town will count this 1-1 draw as points dropped rather than a point won. The Blues missed chance after chance as they largely outplayed West Ham United in a game where Town played most of the football and the Londoners showed a more physical side to their game. A very poor performance by referee Neale Barry aided their approach.

Ipswich lined up with Titus Bramble on the bench, clearly his cold hadn’t cleared up sufficiently for him to start, while Town’s other worry Jermaine Wright passed his fitness test on his groin. Mark Venus replaced Bramble as Town lined up 4-4-2.

Town went ahead in he fifth minute when Marcus Stewart headed a Fabian Wilnis cross past Shaka Hislop into the right-hand corner. Another goal from a player who looks well up to it at this level. Town started to take-over and some of the West Ham players were beginning to put the boot in. Stuart Pearce badly fouled Matt Holland and was shown the yellow card. The resulting free-kick saw him up-end Marcus Stewart and receive a long talking to from the referee, but no second card. Pearce was subsequently booed throughout by Town fans.

The rest of the first half saw Town in the ascendant with West Ham only really coming into it late on. Town went close through a vicious Mark Venus drive and very close when Marcus Stewart was put through after excellent work by Holland and Clapham. On this occasion the Bristolian was high and wide with his finish. West Ham’s best chances came when Cole got to the goal-line, but the ball was hammered away. Similarly Di Canio did much the same, but only won a corner. West Ham’s players seemed loath to shoot, preferring instead to dribble the ball as far as possible when near goal.

The second half got going and quickly became a scrappy affair. A number of West Ham fouls broke up the game and for a few minutes bad refereeing took over. First Stewart was running away from goal toward the right when Rio Ferdinand tripped him well inside the area. It was as clear a penalty as you’ll see, but the referee waved the protests away. Then Pearce, still being booed by Town fans, went through the back of Richard Naylor’s ankles. Town fans expected a card to be produced but Barry just waved play on. Pearce compounded his sins by trying to drag Naylor to his feet which received the expected reaction from Naylor. Then Kanoute showed high class petulance dropping to the ground and picking the ball up. When refused a free-kick he shaped to throw the ball at the referee before lashing the ball forty yards into the crowd.

Town brought off Stewart and put on Scowcroft and immediately West Ham hit back. Paolo Di Canio hit a shot from an acute angle into the left-hand corner of Richard Wright’s net. Town, as against Arsenal, had let a one goal lead go.

Town once more put the pressure on and went as close as you can get to scoring. Jim Magilton hammered a shot at Shaka Hislop from ten yards out when anywhere else would have seen the ball go into the net. Then Richard Naylor stuck his foot in as the ball came across and the ball dribbled agonisingly close to the post.

However, it was not to be and Town had let another lead slip and George Burley will look on this as another game where chances should have been taken. Why is it that we score a goal, get ahead and then sit back? This needs to be addressed urgently. Still, we’re in the top half of the Premiership, so we can’t complain too much can we?

Photo: Action Images

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