Stead brace as Blues find promotion form

Ipswich Town 2 Queens Park Rangers 0TWO goals in three second-half minutes from substitute Jon Stead secured Ipswich Town their third home Coca-Cola Championship win of the season at Portman Road this afternoon.

Elvin King

Ipswich Town 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

TWO goals in three second-half minutes from substitute Jon Stead secured Ipswich Town their third home Coca-Cola Championship win of the season at Portman Road this afternoon.

The draw specialists are now unbeaten in 11 league games and have pocketed eight points from their last four games - promotion form.

Rangers took a while to break down - with Richard Wright making one exceptional first half save.

Town made one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Charlton on Tuesday. Norris was available again after sitting out a one-game suspension, and he came back into the side at the expense of Stead.

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There was no place on the bench for Campo, who is interesting Charlton, and Haynes.

Mikele Leigertwood was missing from the Rangers as he was starting a four-match band, with Emmanuel Ledesma and Dexter Blackstock also dropping out of the side that beat Birmingham in midweek. Damien Delaney, Daniel Parejo and Akos Buzsaky came in.

After Garvan had been booked after four minutes, Town's defence opened up three minutes later and Cook had a free shot from 18-yards that was hit hard but straight at R Wright.

A Garvan free-kick caused problems for Cerny in the 10th minute when McAuley lunged forward, but just failed to get a touch with his head at the far post.

Four minutes later Rangers, who were playing fluently, won a free-kick on their right, which Parejo floated against the Town bar. In the 17th minute it needed a wonder save from R Wright to keep the Blues level after Rowlands soared unmarked to send a downward header from six-yards out. Wright somehow got his left hand in the way on the line to push the ball away.

R Wright had to dive smartly to his right in the 31st minute to tip a dipping free-kick from Parejo around the post with both sides looking positive and hungry for goals.

It was a damp, cold and miserable afternoon and anyone who was undecided whether to watch the game could well have been persuaded to stay indoors in front of the warmth of the fire.

If Ipswich were going to win this game it was not going to be easy, but they spurned a great chance in the 39th minute after a flowing move upfield. Norris' low shot deflected to Garvan standing unmarked just beyond the far post, but his shot was delayed and was blocked by a desperate Connolly. Garvan's follow-up chip was eventually cleared.

Both Walters and D Wright had dispensed with their head bandages, with the former shooting first-time just over after Norris had seen his 47th minute shot blocked.

Town had only tasted defeat once in their previous ten league games, and only one of their last five home matches against Rangers.

Seconds after coming on Counago played Lisbie clean through. Cerny dived to his right to make a comfortable save.

72 MINS: Town had controlled the second half and they deservedly took the lead in the 72nd minute soon after Cook had gone close in a rare Rangers attack.

A free-kick was played on by McAuley and then Counago with Stead going into space to see his close range shot blocked by the keeper. Although on the ground, STEAD was able to get enough power on his header for the ball to roll sweetly over the line.

And Stead scored again to bring Portman Road to life in the 75th minute. Garvan's corner was perfectly placed and STEAD rose high to climb above his marker and leave the keeper standing with a powerful header. It was his fifth Town goal - and a good one.

A glorious Town move in teeming rain in the 86th minute ended with Counago bringing a save out of Cerny.

In stoppage time, Stead came close to a hat-trick with a bending 25-yard free-kick that came back off the post.


Ipswich Town: R Wright, Volz, McAuley, Naylor, D Wright; Norris, Garvan, Shumulikoski, Quinn (Counago 59); Walters, Lisbie (Stead 67). Substitutes: Supple, Bruce, Miller.

Queens Park Rangers: Cerny; Connolly, Hall, Stewart, Delaney; Buzsaky (Ledesma 67), Rowlands, Tommasi, Cook; Parejo, Di Carmine (Blackstock 56). Substitutes: Mahon, Gorkss, Cole.

Referee: Mr T Kettle (Rutland)

Attendance: 20,966.