‘The momentum changed from there’ - Stewart’s Ipswich career truly took off at the Reebok
- Credit: Archant
The impact Marcus Stewart had during his two-and-a-half years at Ipswich Town was remarkable. But 20 years ago today was when he truly began to make his mark.
There were early impacts of course – a debut goal at Barnsley and the winner against Huddersfield just days after moving between the clubs for £2.75m - but the events at the Reebok Stadium on May 14, 2000 really mark the beginning of his Ipswich Town story.
Stewart was on a three-month goal drought heading into the first leg of the play-off semi-final, but that was well-and-truly forgotten when he picked up a neat Matt Holland pass and rifled it into Jussi Jaaskelainen’s top right corner.
That goal got Ipswich back into a game they trailed 2-0, thanks to Dean Holdsworth and Eidur Gudjohnsen’s goals and, 45 minutes later he was at it again as he rounded Jaaskelainen, remained patient and picked his spot to secure a share of the spoils.
Two superb, vital goals at important times which set the wheels in motion for promotion just a few days later (with the most dramatic of second legs in between.
But which goal was better?
“The second one was a more technical, complicated goal but the first one was so, so important,” Stewart said.
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“Matty popped the ball through, it sat up nicely and I had a go. I wasn’t aiming for the top corner but that’s where it went. It looked pretty good in the end!
“The next goal was vital with us being 2-0 down and if it had gone to 3-0 it would have been a mountain for us to climb, so it was really important for us to get it and get us back in the game.
“The momentum changed from there because we weren’t really in the game at that point. The whole tie changed.”
On the second goal, Stewart said: “When I’ve thought about this goal before I wasn’t able to remember whether it was Jim (Magilton) or Matty (Holland) who passed the ball but after watching it back I saw it was Martijn Reuser.
“It was a good pass through and I thought about taking it early but I saw the goalkeeper coming out really quickly so the space was behind him. He committed himself and I wasn’t confident enough to take it with my right because of the players on the line so I didn’t feel like I had the power to get it past them. That’s why I came back on my left.
“So much goes through your mind, which can be a problem, but the keeper had made my mind up for me and it ended up being a very important goal.
“For all of those seconds I had the ball before putting it in the net would have seemed like an age for everyone watching but it ended up going in.
“Then it was game on at Portman Road.”
And what a game that was.