Town win keeps play-off dream alive

IPSWICH Town kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a fully deserved win in the Coca-Cola Championship at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

Elvin King

Reading 0 Ipswich Town 1

IPSWICH Town kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a fully deserved win in the Coca-Cola Championship at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

They played some delightful football for their eighth away league victory and looked organised and assured after a slightly edgy start.

It was their second clean sheet against a top three side inside five days with the winning goal fit to win any match.

It came in the 46th minute when Jon Stead scored his best Town goal with a magnificent bicycle kick from 12-yards into the roof of the home net.

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Town made two changesm with McAuley as expected coming back in. Stead also got the nod to start. Campo dropped to the bench while the injured Walters was also missing.

Town's new loan signing from Spurs Giovanni Dos Santos was named Town substitute along with Supple, Campo, Counago and Garvan.

Dos Santos - wearing the number 20 shirt - was given a good reception by Town fans, with D Wright able to play despite having four stitches inserted in a foot wound in midweek.

Reading included their two new loan signings Little and Kitson in their starting line-up. Hahnemann returned in goal for the home side.

In the third minute Reading went close when Kitson got a touch to a free-kick and the ball flew for a goal kick off the top of the bar.

It was mainly Reading at this stage with Hunt seeing his free-kick deflected over. Town had yet to get out of their starting blocks with Stead playing alongside Lisbie up front.

The lively Long went beyond McAuley in the 19th minute and fired in a strong left-foot drive that R Wright saved above his head.

Six minutes later Quinn tried a shot from 20-yards after neat Town play - the ball was heading for the bottom corner but did not have enough pace to beat a diving Hahnemann.

In the 30th minute R Wright Town broke and a smart Lisbie run set up Miller, but he was unable to get in his shot. R Wright then saved a close range effort from Harper.

Good play by D Wright five minutes later resulted in Town winning their first corner. Taken by Civelli, Kitson has to head over his own bar. The second corner comes to nothing.

Almost immediately, Lisbie and Stead did well to set up Miller for a free shot from 12-yards. But the midfielder side-footed over.

Town continued to have most of the possession until the interval with Reading looking a pretty ordinary outfit at this stage.

Third-placed Reading had failed to win any of their four previous home matches and needed a victory to keep in touch with the top two of Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Town have never won at the Madejski Stadium their last win in Berkshire coming at the Royals' former ground at Elm Park.

Within a minute of the re-start Town took the lead with a spectacularly goal. STEAD hooked the ball into the roof of the net from 12-yards with an overhead kick. It shook the home side and delighted Town fans behind that goal. It was Stead's 11th goal of the season.

Inside the next two minutes, Norris ran clear but opted to shoot with Civelli unmarked to his left. The keeper dived to save. Then Kitson headed just over at the other end after climbing above McAuley.

A great 69th minute run by Civelli saw Town win a corner from his cross as Lisbie competed for the ball.

In the 62nd minute Town survived a big scare when Thatcher cleared a header from Pearce off the line.

Dos Santos came on for his Town debut in place of Stead. Within seconds R Wright saved from Little when the Reading man should have scored unmarked in front of goal.

The ground is used for rugby union games, and the lines for the oval ball sport could still be seen on a pitch that was a tad uneven because of its duel use.

The ball twice goes right across their goal as Town begin to live a bit dangerously. But they almost score in the 76th minute when Dos Santos sets up Civelli for a cross that Lisbie heads down and Hahnemann somehow saves.

Dos Santos loved running at the home defence and he was playing just behind Lisbie. Thatcher put in a last-ditch tackle to deny Little at the expense of a corner with three minutes left.

Civelli put Lisbie into space heading for goal, but his left-foot shot was weak from a good position as the clock slowly ticked down.

A fully deserved win for Town that keeps their slim play-off hopes alive and their eighth away league win.

Teams:-

Reading: Hahnemann; Rosenior (sub Matejovsky 73 mins), Duberry, Pearce, Armstrong; Little, Gunnarsson, Harper, S Hunt (Kebe 64); S Long (Doyle 68), Kitson. Substitutes: Federici, Cisse.

Ipswich Town: R Wright; D Wright, McAuley, Balkestein, Thatcher; Norris, Miller, Quinn (Garvan 79), Civelli; Stead (Dos Santos 70), Lisbie (Counago 90). Substitutes: Supple, Campo.

Referee: Mr M Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: 20,592.