Shumi turns game for Town

Ipswich Town 2 Blackpool 1VELICE Sumulikoski gave Ipswich Town the boost of a fine 49th minute goal to send the Blues on their way to an impressive Coca-Cola Championship victory at Portman Road this afternoon.

Ipswich Town 2 Blackpool 1

VELICE Sumulikoski gave Ipswich Town the boost of a fine 49th minute goal to send the Blues on their way to an impressive Coca-Cola Championship victory at Portman Road this afternoon.

The Macedonian midfielder struck at the right time after a first half when Town looked as though their dominance would not be turned into goals.

In the 58th minute Jonathan Walters added a second goal as the home team completed controlled the second period.

A bizarre 89th minute goal by Paul Dickov when the referee overruled an offside flag, was just a consolation for an outplayed Blackpool.

Central defenders Ian Evatt and Michael Jackson both limped off in the opening half, leaving Blackpool with a makeshift back line for most of the game.

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Ipswich fielded an unchanged side as they entertained Blackpool for the first time since 1971. The only change was on the bench where a fit-again Quinn took the place of Trotter.

Having beaten Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Tuesday the Blues were looking to consolidate their position in the top six.

With Stoke City going top of the table last night with a 3-2 victory over Scunthorpe, an automatic promotion place is looking remote. However with three points today a play-off position will look a distinct possibility for the Tractor Boys.

Blackpool kicked-off attacking the North Stand goal and winning an early corner when Dickov saw his attempted cross cut out by Naylor. Hoolahan fired a foot wide from 22 yards before the ball was finally cleared.

In the fifth minute, Lee looked to have been clearly pushed over in the penalty area, with the ball running to Haynes, who had a pile-driver blocked. The referee appeared surprised by Town's claims for a spot kick and presumably never witnessed the incident.

After Lee was caught in possession as Shumi (Sumulikoski) went free, Walters fired in a low seventh minute shot that was heading for the bottom far corner of the goal until Rachubka dived to his right to finger-tip away for a corner.

It had been a lively start by the Blues against a team that looked to be out to try to play more football than Watford seven days ago.

Ipswich were attacking in numbers and Walters lifted an ambitious lob high over the bar before in the tenth minute Blackpool were forced into a change when central defender Evatt limped off.

His place was taken by Coid, who went to right back with Barker moving to partner skipper Jackson at the heart of the visiting defence.

Town went agonisingly close in the 18th minute. Shumi started a move down the right and after Lee and Walters inter-changed passes the latter failed to get a proper touch on his close-range shot. The ball still beat the keeper with Coid clearing from just in front of the goal line.

Town went close again as this match had shades of Plymouth last month when the Blues did everything but score. Lee took control from a long punt forward, and let fly with a stinging 25-yard right-foot volley that beat Rachubka but crashed down off the underside of the bar. It was the same section of woodwork that Lee struck last week against Watford, and it would have been a tremendous goal.

A minute later De Vos headed a corner goalwards, and Jorgensen was stationed beside the post to leap and head off the line.

Town could easily have been three goals ahead with Shumi impressing in midfield and the Town front men stretching their markers continuously.

After half and hour the visitors lost skipper Jackson, who became their second central defender to limp off. Midfielder Green came on with Southern moving to join Barker in a makeshift back line.

Lee shot over as Town attacked through the middle, and if Town were to find the net an avalanche of goals looked a possibility.

Taylor-Fletcher showed that the Tangerines were still a danger when he turned Naylor in the box, with Harding having to clear rapidly for a 43rd minute corner from right in front of goal.

This was not cleared and from a right wing cross, Southern stretched to lift his effort over the bar from little more than six yards. Unbeaten in their previous three matches, Blackpool were looking to build on their strong end to the opening period although having a fourth choice pairing at the back was not going to help their cause.

But they were put on the back foot in the 49th minute when SUMULIKOSKI netted his opening Ipswich goal. It was a blinding shot that gave Rachubka no chance as it ripped into the net off high off the woodwork. Shumi has started the move with a through ball that left Barker on the floor and Walters racing clear. Walters found Haynes who passed low to Lee who held up the ball with his back to goal before setting up Shumi for his 16-yard right-foot shot.

Town had to defend with some desperation soon afterwards as the Tangerines realised that had to come forward more. But in the 53rd minute, Walters played a square ball in from the right - the sort that is often meat and drink to Miller - but this time the number ten side-footed straight at Rachubka.

In the 58th minute there was a further bonus for the Blues when WALTERS scored his 12th goal of the season to make it 2-0. The number 19 chased a long ball forward, and used his strength to hold off the attentions of Southern, who was not playing at the back. As Rachubka came out Walters intelligently placed the ball underneath the keeper for a second well-taken goal.

Burgess went off the be replaced by record-signing McPhee after 61 minutes, and Blackpool were still working their socks off and not having given up the ghost by any means. But Town's extra pedigree was not in doubt with Miller and Norris looking comfortable in their roles and Haynes and Naylor playing their parts.

Both Haynes and Lee were given good ovations when they were replaced by Quinn and Counago respectively after 71 minutes.

Quinn had a great chance to increase the lead in the 73rd minute when a neat Ipswich move ended with Miller placing the substitute clean through. Quinn tried to place a shot beyond the keeper, but Rachubka did well - running out to block the effort.

Another goal looked likely, and when Counago and Quinn combined after a good 77th minute Harding run, Miller tried his luck from 25 yards, but shot high and wide.

Norris was the next to have a shot after a strong Walters run, and then - urged on by 20,000 fans - Shumi sent a 25-yard effort two yards too high. It was training ground passing for Ipswich now, but the final pass - or shot - was not proving productive.

Bruce then played Walters in to hold off Hills and drive in an angled shot that Rachubka held at the second attempt.

Shumi's goal had proved the turning point against an injury-hit Blackpool, and more great work down the left by fleet-footed Town saw Miller close to adding a third goal - only a last-ditch interception by Hills preventing this.

In the 89th minute Blackpool scored a bizarre goal through DICKOV. The striker looked a couple of yards offside when he received the ball just inside the Town half. The assistant referee duly stuck his flag up and when Dickov went around Bywater in a rather light-hearted manner to place the ball into the net appeared to be just a token. But the Essex-based referee gave a goal after speaking to his assistant appearing to indicate that Dickov had been played on by a Town player.

It mattered little as Town held out without any other concerns for a well-deserved and well-played victory.