Legend Phillips says Wickham goal top of the range

IPSWICH Town: Legendary striker Ted Phillips today hailed Connor Wickham’s wonder goal against Sheffield United as top of the range.

And the man who netted an amazing 179 times in 294 Town appearances between 1953 and 1964 – and won Division Three South, Second and First Division championship medals – cannot recall scoring a better goal himself.

Phillips, who formed a magnificent front running partnership with Ray Crawford with the pair notching a combined 63 goals when Ipswich stunned the football world by winning the Division One title under the management of Alf Ramsey in 1961/62, saw highlights of Saturday’s match on TV after operations on his knees means he finds it difficult to watch from the stands.

“Connor’s goal was top of the range,” said Phillips.

“I can’t recall seeing a better one at Portman Road.

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“I scored a few good’uns, but none stick in the memory like Connor’s with the lad running almost from his own 18-yard box to score.

“Okay the Sheffield defending was not the best, but the way the boy dipped his shoulder a few times and opened the way to roll the ball into an empty net was simply superb.

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“He made the visiting players look silly and there were five or six back in the penalty area by the time he scored.

“He said ‘Ta Ta’ and left his opponents for dead and his body movement was brilliant.

“If he carries on as he is now Connor has every chance of hitting the heights.”

When Gareth McAuley humped the ball forward from inside his own six-yard box, Wickham’s control in taking the ball virtually from over his shoulder and keeping it in play was eye catching enough in itself.

And to then set off on a run that took him into the opposing penalty area and finish cleanly was the icing on the cake for a goal that will long outlive the memory of Saturday’s match.

Jim Magilton’s solo goal against Bolton in the 1999/00 First Division play-off semi-final sticks out as another classic Portman Road goal.

Paul Mariner hammered in a 25-yard effort against West Brom on his debut and Kevin Beattie almost broke the net with his power shooting on a number of occasions.

Also during Bobby Robson’s time in charge there were some magical moves instigated by the Dutch duo of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen and finished off by Mariner, Alan Brazil or John Wark set the pulse racing.

Phillips sees one downside to Wickham’s play but is sure once he matures from his tender 17 years he will overcome the flaw.

“I’ve seen him lose it a bit and take a yellow card and go close to a red one,” added Phillips, who is 77 and still keeps himself active despite having had operations on both knees and also recently on both shoulders.

Before returning to digging his garden ready to plant his shallots with broad beans and onions already coming up, the Colchester-based ex-hot shot recalled his playing days.

“Alf used to chide Ray for not getting his head to balls that I cracked across the six-yard box,” recalled Phillips.

“But Ray replied that it would have knocked his head off with the ball travelling at 90mph.”

Phillips once went head-to-head with Bobby Charlton, Peter Lorimer and Bobby Smith to see who had the hardest shot.

“The area was all wired up and Bobby Smith missed the netting!

“I was recorded at 80-plus mph to be named England’s most powerful striker.”

Phillips says that Ipswich must agree new contracts with David Norris, McAuley and Damien Delaney before they run out in June.

“They are three players who it would be very difficult to replace,” he said.

WHAT is the best goal you have witnessed at Portman Road? Let us know, write to sports department, Ipswich Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk.

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