Forster fires warning

Ipswich Town Res5 Southampton Res 3NICKY Forster fired a warning to his former club Reading with a hat-trick as Blues' reserves swamped the Saints last night.

By Derek Davis

Ipswich Town Res5 Southampton Res 3

NICKY Forster fired a warning to his former club Reading with a hat-trick as Blues' reserves swamped the Saints last night.

The striker, who scored on his debut against Cardiff, and again on his return from a cartilage operation against Crewe 10 days ago, has now scored five goals in his three Portman Road appearances for Town.

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Forster also turned provider for another, as he got in some vital match fitness with a 90 minute run- out ahead of Town's Championship trip to second-placed Reading on Sunday.

Matt Richards weighed in with the other two goals in an open match which was frustrating for the coaches but terrific for the supporters.

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With a sprinkling of the FA Youth Cup final side playing, Saints, watched by coach Sir Clive Woodward, got off to a good start, with Leon Best looping a near post header over Shane Supple from a Theo Walcott cross in the 11th minute.

But Town hit back hard six minutes later, with Dean McDonald playing a delightful, defence-splitting pass through for Forster to sprint on to before rounding the keeper and slotting in an angled shot.

McDonald was instrumental in the Blues' second. After beating Jason St Juste near a corner flag, he delivered a deep cross and Richards, playing left side of midfield, finished superbly at the far post with a side-foot volley.

Forster snatched his second four minutes before the break. More good work from McDonald set Jaime Peters free and his cross from wide right was expertly met by the sharpshooter.

Supple was again in good form and, after making a sharp save at the feet of Best, delivered a long ball out in the 59th minute. Forster sprinted down the left flank before pulling the ball back and Richards steered his header home from 12 yards for his second and Town's fourth.

Forster snatched his hat-trick with a superb individual goal three minutes later, cutting in from the left before beating his marker and his powerfully struck shot was fumbled by the keeper.

Marcel Tejara hit Saints' second in the 73rd minute, with an excellent dipping shot from the edge of the area in a game of quality goals and high entertainment.

Five minutes later, Walcott had time and space to finish for Southampton's third but Supple ensured the revival ended there with some fine saves.

Blues' boss Joe Royle had hoped to give Adam Proudlock a run out after securing him on loan for the rest of the season from Sheffield Wednesday but, due to the complexity of the situation, the striker's clearance did not arrive in time.

Royle has been impressed with Proudlock during his trial at Town and is confident the 24-year-old striker can make the sort of impact former Owls hit man Shefki Kuqi did.

He said: “If Adam does half as well as the last striker we had from Wednesday, I'll be happy.”

The teams

Ipswich Town: Supple, Moore, Barron (Clarke, 87) Juan (Craig, 78) Collins, Krause, Peters, Trotter, Forster, McDonald and Richards. Subs not used: Knights, Casement and Haynes.

Southampton: Poke, Richards, St Juste, James, Mills (Condesso, 46) Kenton, Walcott, Dyer, Best, Tejera and Griffit. Subs not used: Black and Lallana.

Referee: N Kinseley.

Attendance: 603.

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