Ranking Ipswich Town's top seven razor-sharp strikers of the last 40 years
- Credit: Archant
Football writer Carl Marston compiles his top seven Ipswich Town razor-sharp front-runners of the last 40 years, following on from his list of leading target men...
Following on from the previous Town Top Seven focusing on the best 'target men' of the last 40 years, those big centre-forwards who led the front-line with such a presence and physical strength, it is only natural to switch to the more nimble strikers for this latest section.
These other strikers, often paired with a big man up top, belong to the class of the smaller, quicker and trickier front-runners, usually renowned as being prolific goal poachers with a swift turn of pace and a good eye for goal.
Once again this is a very competitive class, with those floating just outside the top seven including such familiar names and faces as David Lowe, Dalian Atkinson, David Johnson, Danny Haynes, Jon Walters, Pablo Counago, David McGoldrick and Paul Goddard.
Some tough decisions had to be made, but here's my top seven goal-hungry livewire strikers since the 1980-81 season:
1 ALAN BRAZIL
One of my fondest memories as a teenager, watching Ipswich Town, was on a cold Tuesday evening on February 16, 1982, when a thoroughly entertaining top-flight duel ended in a 5-2 win for Sir Bobby Robson's men over Southampton.
I remember the match best for the wonderful individual performance of front-runner Alan Brazil, who plundered all five goals in a breath-taking display of clinical finishing.
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It just seemed that the Scotsman could do no wrong that evening. Time and time again he burst clear of the Saints defence to plant the ball in the back of the net. It was a master-class.
Of course Brazil did more than just demolish Southampton on one winter's night, 39 years ago.
Between 1978 and '83, he crashed home 80 goals in 210 first-team appearances, helping Town to UEFA Cup glory in 1981 and finishing second to Southampton's Kevin Keegan in the First Division goal-charts the following season with 22 goals.
The perfect foil for fellow front-man Paul Mariner, Brazil eventually moved on to Tottenham in 1983 (for £425,000) and later Manchester United.
2 MARCUS STEWART
A controversial move from Huddersfield Town to promotion rivals Ipswich, for a £2.5 million fee at the end of January, 2000, kick-started a successful stay for goal predator Stewart, who preyed on opposing defences.
He did not take long to justify his price tag, scoring in his first two games (2-0 win at Barnsley and 2-1 home win over former club Huddersfield) and then helping Town to promotion via the play-offs with a brace in the semi-final first leg against Bolton, and also scoring in the final against Barnsley.
Stewart immediately felt at home in the Premier League, banging home 19 goals (21 in all competitions) to finish as the second top scorer in the division behind Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Stewart's many goals contributed to away wins at Everton, Manchester City and Liverpool that season as Town went on to finish fifth.
Even though George Burley's side were relegated the following season, Stewart still netted 10 goals in all competitions before signing for Sunderland in a £3.25 million move.
3 CHRIS KIWOMYA
Fleet of foot, Kiwomya advanced through the trainee ranks to lead Town's front-line from the late 1980s through to 1995.
He was instrumental in propelling Town to the Second Division title in 1991-92, under John Lyall, top-scoring with 16 league goals to ensure the club were founder members of the new Premier League.
Kiwomya worked in harness with such talented players as Jason Dozzell and Steve Whitton, scoring 64 goals in 250-plus first-team appearances before signing for Arsenal in a £1.25m deal.
4 DARREN BENT
Londoner Bent was first spotted playing for Godmanchester Rovers as a youngster, joining the Portman Road ranks as a 14-year-old and going on to enjoy three prolific seasons in the second tier, after a handful of appearances in the Premier League in 2001-02.
Town fans were treated to Bent's exciting attack-minded style and a flurry of goals, 18 in 2002-03 and 16 and 20 over the next two seasons, when he finished as the club's top scorer, sharing the accolade with Shefki Kuqi in the 2004-05 campaign.
As a bonus, he was another of these strikers to generate cash for the club when signing for Charlton for £2.5m .
5 ALEX MATHIE
Scotsman Mathie, so sharp in front of goal, formed a fine partnership with Ian Marshall in the mid-1990s, initially in the Premier League but more regularly in the second tier.
He fought for every ball and was a constant menace in the box.
Highlights included bagging a hat-trick against Sunderland in September, 1995, and two years later famously scoring a hat-trick against deadly rivals Norwich City in a 5-0 thrashing.
Mathie totalled 19 goals in 1995-96, finishing joint top scorer with Marshall, and managed 15 goals in his final season before a move to Dundee United.
6 KEVIN WILSON
A livewire under Bobby Ferguson, during the mid-1980s, an always-smiling Wilson prowled the opposing penalty areas to good effect.
He boasted a fine moustache and a dazzling record of 49 goals in 123 first-team appearances, between 1985 and '87. His attacking expertise was confirmed by earning 42 caps for Northern Ireland, and a successful move to Chelsea.
7 ERIC GATES
The oldest player on this list, Gates delivered terrific service over a dozen years, always having the knack of arriving at the right time in the box to maintain an impressive goalscoring record as a diminutive, elusive attacker.
I used to love watching Gates. He would snap at opponent's heels and never give them a moment's rest!
Although most of Gates' appearances were during the 1970s, his Town career continued until 1985. Often under-stated, he scored at a healthy rate of a goal every four games (96 in 384 outings), making 60 appearances in the club's triumphant 1980-81 season with 14 goals.