Ipswich Town’s greatest games: The Blues beat Bolton in 2000 play-off semi-final thriller

Jim Magilton celebrates on a magical night. Pictures: ARCHANT

Jim Magilton celebrates on a magical night. Pictures: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

In the latest of our weekly look backs at Ipswich Town’s greatest games, we step back to May 2000 – and what is often called the best match ever seen at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town 5 Bolton 3 (aggregate 7-5).

Play-off semi-final, May 2000.

Jamie Clapham celebrates his goal with his team mates.

Jamie Clapham celebrates his goal with his team mates. - Credit: Archant

This was surely the most exciting and incident-packed game ever seen at Portman Road.

Martijn Reuser made the game safe for the Blues

Martijn Reuser made the game safe for the Blues - Credit: Archant

The score was 2-2 after the play-off first leg, and expectation was high, but home hearts sank after six minutes when Dean Holdsworth put the visitors ahead.

- Greatest games: Blues beat Barnsley to reach Premier League

Town fans celebrate reaching the play-off final at Wembley.

Town fans celebrate reaching the play-off final at Wembley. - Credit: Archant


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Jim Magilton’s penalty restored parity, only for a Holdsworth free-kick to edge Bolton in front again shortly before half-time. A Magilton penalty was then saved, but the Irishman did score a second equaliser in the 49th minute after a mazy dribble.

- Greatest games: FA Cup glory

A banner proclaims Matt Holland the king of Portman Road

A banner proclaims Matt Holland the king of Portman Road - Credit: Archant

No sooner had Town fans finished celebrating than Allan Johnston scored from 35 yards and Bolton were in front again. It stayed that way until the last minute of normal time when Magilton’s shot, off his shin, bobbled into the net.

- Greatest games: Town win UEFA Cup

Town fans during the memorable game

Town fans during the memorable game - Credit: Archant

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In extra-time it all kicked off. Bolton had two players sent off, on top of their seven yellow cards, yet another penalty – this time from Jamie Clapham – put Town ahead, and then Dutchman Martijn Reuser made sure with a late solo effort. Town were at Wembley!

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