Gallery: Tamas the hero as Town outgun Gunners

TAMAS Priskin was the hero of the hour, as his second half goal gave Ipswich Town a priceless 1-0 lead over Arsenal in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.

Ipswich Town 1 Arsenal 0

(Priskin 78)

IPSWICH Town are even daring to dream about Wembley, after Tamas Priskin shocked Premier League high-fliers Arsenal in a pulsating Carling Cup semi-final first leg tie at a packed Portman Road last night.

Against all the odds, Town will take a slender 1-0 advantage into the second leg, to be staged at the Emirates on Tuesday, January 25.


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And it was no more than the hosts deserved, for a stirring performance. Their illustrious visitors were never given time to settle, and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger can have no real complaints.

The winner arrived in the 78th minute, and it was certainly not against the run of play – Town never gave the Gunners an inch all night.

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Priskin was released by Colin Healy’s well-weighted pass, which left his marker Johan Djourou treading in water and trailing in the Hungarian’s wake.

There was still much to do, but Priskin kept his cool to fend off the Ivory Coast defender and then direct a right-footed shot beyond the reach of keeper Wojciech Szczesny, the ball rolling into the far corner of the net.

It was a deadly finish from Priskin, and it brought the proverbial house down.

Arsenal tried to salvage at least a draw during the closing minutes, but plucky Town were not going to be denied a famous victory.

And it was a night that Ian “Charlie” McParland will never forget, in what was his second and final game as caretaker manager before Paul Jewell takes over this morning.

It could hardly have been more of a contrast to his first, a 7-0 hiding at Chelsea on Sunday.

The tone was set early on. Inside the first five minutes, Town had won the game’s first corner and also forced keeper Wojciech Szczesny into an early save, plucking Delaney’s header out of the air from Connor Wickham’s long throw.

Wickham adapted well to an unfamiliar role on the left flank, as McParland had opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation. It was certainly effective.

Arsenal did not threaten Marton Fulop throughout the first-half hour. In fact, they struggled to get their familiar passing style beyond first gear.

Andrey Arshavin sliced his volley horribly wide from Cesc Fabregas’ eighth minute free-kick, while Theo Walcott’s cross-cum-shot rolled harmlessly across the face of goal and wide. It was Town who came closest to an opening goal in the 14th minute. Lone striker Priskin cut in from the left and tried his luck with a scorching 20-yard drive that flew only a foot wide of the far post.

Town were on the attack again on the half-hour mark. Wickham’s long-range shot was deflected wide, and from Carlos Edwards’ ensuing corner, Darren O’Dea headed into the danger zone for fellow defender Gareth McAuley to balloon a header over the bar.

Fulop was finally called into action to make his first save, from an opponent, in the 32nd minute. And it was a comfortable save, dropping to his left to scoop up Walcott’s tame shot.

Otherwise, Town continued to look the more dangerous.Wickham’s deep cross was just too high for David Norris, who was lurking on the edge of the six-yard box on 42 minutes.

And seconds later the hosts had the ball in the back of the net, only for Priskin’s spectacular bicycle kick – which had beaten Szczesny all ends up – to be ruled out for offside.

Wickham smashed a 25-yarder over the bar as a satisfactory first-half drew to a close. The home side deserved their rousing ovation as they walked off at half-time.

A rare lapse from Fabregas, who allowed the ball to escape into the path of Kennedy, led to the wily Irishman eying up the target from fully 40 yards out. His opportunist lob was gobbled up by a back-pedalling Szczesny.

Priskin spurned a half-chance just after the hour mark. Peters’ long punt dropped over Laurent Koscielny, allowing Priskin to burst into the penalty area. But he lost control at the vital moment and Johan Djourou was able to clip the ball to safety.

Fulop made his best save of the night on 71 minutes. Walcott slipped onto Fabregas’ inch-perfect pass and prodded in a shot that Town’s keeper did well to turn around his near post.

That had occurred just seconds after Gunners keeper Szczesny had appeared to handle the ball out of his own penalty area, so to score from the following attack would have been harsh on Town.

Fulop made his best save of the night on 71 minutes. Walcott slipped onto Fabregas’ inch-perfect pass and prodded in a shot that Town’s keeper did well to turn around his near post. That had occurred just seconds after Gunners keeper Szczesny had appeared to handle the ball out of his own penalty area, so to score from the following attack would have been harsh on Town. But all was forgotten when Priskin netted what proved to be the winner in the 78th minute.

Fulop made one good save from Walcott with five minutes left, but Town ended worthy winners.

n Ipswich Town’s chief executive, Simon Clegg, was quick to slam reports that Paul Jewell had not been the first choice to replace Roy Keane as manager at Portman Road. Speculation that Gary Megson had turned down the Town job were strongly denied by the Suffolk club yesterday.

“I have seen one or two names being mentioned as being offered the manager’s job, and I can categorically state that was not the case,” insisted Clegg.

- In spite of an apparent disturbance in the Arsenal end, no arrests were made during the game but Suffolk Police said one person was detained at Ipswich railway station by British Transport Police.

Ipswich Town (4-1-4-1)

21 Marton Fulop Deserved his clean-sheet.......................…...... 9

2 Jaime Peters

Full of energy ..........................................….......9

4 Gareth McAuley

A rock at the back ............................................ 9

5 Damien Delaney

So commanding in their air.............................. 9

48 Darren O’Dea

Celtic loanee rose to the occasion.................. 9

39 Mark Kennedy

Superb in front of back four..........................… 9

7 Carlos Edwards.

Nearly doubled the lead late on ..................… 9

8 David Norris

Skipper was inspirational.......................…....... 9

24 Colin Healy

Set up the winner …......................................... 9

9 Connor Wickham

A real handful on the left ….............................. 9

16 Tamas Priskin

Goal hero …...................................................... 9

Subs

12 Arran Lee-Barrett (not used)

20 Tommy Smith (not used)

23 Tom Eastman (not used)

26 Luciano Civelli (not used)

27 Reggie Lambe (not used)

28 Ronan Murray (for Priskin, 90)

34 Conor Hourihane (not used)

55 James Shea (not used)

Stats

Bookings: O’Dea (44, foul), Priskin (82, foul)

Sending-off............................................none

Shots on target........................................... 4

Shots off target............................................6

Hit woodwork...............................................0

Corners....................................................... 5

Fouls conceded........................................ 20

Arsenal (4-3-3)

52 Wojciech Szczesny

No chance with goal ….................................... 6

27 Emmanuel Eboue

Kept on his toes …........................................... 6

20 Johan Djourou

Couldn’t stop Priskin ...................................… 6

6 Laurent Koscielny

Never allowed to settle …................................ 6

28 Kieran Gibbs

Made a few mistakes …................................... 6

15 Denilson

Failed to make a big impression …................. 7

4 Cesc Fabregas

A quality performer …...................................... 8

19 Jack Wilshere

A big disappointment ….................................. 5

14 Theo Walcott

Lively but squandered chances ….................. 7

52 Nicklas Bendtner

Never had the sniff of a chance ..................… 5

23 Andrey Arshavin

Not his best night …......................................... 6

Subs

11 Carlos Vela (for Arshavin, 81)

16 Aaron Ramsey (not used)

17 Alex Song (for Wilshere, 68)

29 Marouane Chamakh (for Bendtner, 68)

40 Craig Eastmond (not used)

48 Ignasi Miquel (not used)

55 James Shea (not used)

Stats

Bookings...............................................none

Sending-off........................................... none

Shots on target........................................... 5

Shots off target........................................... 4

Hit woodwork.............................................. 0

Corners....................................................... 7

Fouls conceded........................................ 10

Match conditions: damp but mild

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorks) 7

Attendance: 29,146

Man of the match: I could have picked any one of Town’s 11 players from last night’s wonderful team display, but goal-scorer Tamas Priskin gets the nod for his superb performance as a lone striker, and his quality finish for the winner.

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