Late winner thwarts Town

MEN of Harlech was sung with gusto at Ninian Park and there was a Zulu-like mentality about Ipswich's performance but, just like in the film, the brave ended up the defeated.

By Derek Davis

MEN of Harlech was sung with gusto at Ninian Park and there was a Zulu-like mentality about Ipswich's performance but, just like in the film, the brave ended up the defeated.

Even though they were down to 10 men in controversial fashion after a dozen minutes, and going a goal down against the run of the play, this was not a backs-to-the-wall display.

The outnumbered Blues went at Cardiff and, even though a heroic display from keeper Lewis Price kept them in it, they deserved their late equaliser from Jimmy Juan.

But like the Zulu tribe, City kept hammering on the door and snatched a winner two minutes from time through Jason Koumas.

The Blues created early danger with City defender Joe Ledley almost heading in a Jim Magilton free-kick but Neil Alexander tipped away.

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Ipswich were getting into a good tempo before the first blow struck.

Jay McEveley clearly injured his knee in a challenge but instead of staying down hurt tried to get back into play and kept Cameron Jerome onside.

As Fabian Wilnis under-hit a back pass, the Bluebirds' leading scorer sprinted on to it and, although the Dutchman's grab was weak, Jerome tumbled easily and won the penalty.

Referee Andre Marriner decided it was also a goalscoring opportunity, even though Lewis Price pounced on the loose ball quickly and Sito Castro was getting back to cover on the line.

On-loan Leeds United striker Michael Ricketts skipped and staggered his run in an attempt to make Price commit but the Wales No. 1 stood his ground and dived to his right to superbly save.

It was the first penalty save Price has made in senior football after facing one at Gillingham on his Town debut and then again for Wales on his international bow earlier this month in Cyprus.

The injured McEveley went off with a sore knee and Kevin Horlock went on to replace him at left-back, while Richard Naylor returned to centre-half after a short-lived stint up front.

The double blow galvanised Town and the save inspired them and for the next quarter of an hour they played much the better football, with Nicky Forster looking sharp and getting in a couple of decent shots. Jason De Vos headed down a corner and Gavin Williams tried a long shot when another flag kick was cleared to him.

But when it looked as if 10-men Ipswich were getting on top they committed soccer suicide by gifting Cardiff their goal-scoring chance on the half-hour.

Spaniard Sito tried to keep the passing game going instead of a more basic foot-thru-ball approach and succeeded only in giving the ball straight to Ledley.

The midfielder played a terrific angled pass in for Ricketts and the striker hit a stunning shot on the half-turn, which beat Price at the far post.

Price then made an excellent one-handed save at full stretch to turn away a Ledley drive but it was Ipswich who once more played the better football.

Forster shot into the crowd and attempted to sweep another but the keeper scooped it up, while Sito hit a super strike which was low and powerful but Alexander turned the ball away for a corner.

The former Reading striker was doing very well with Matt Richards and Williams bursting through from midfield but Town seemed to run out of steam in the last half-hour as Cardiff woke up and the chances went City's way.

Paul Parry tried hitting it low, while Jerome went for a more spectacular outside of the foot but Price was equal to both, while Jeff Whitley scooped over the bar.

Then came another piece of inspired goalkeeping and Jerome got away from Naylor and teed up Ricketts, who hit a powerful shot from 10 yards but Price somehow flung himself high enough to push over the bar.

No wonder a cry of 'Wales No. 1' went up.

He followed that up with another solid block when Ricketts broke clear again and a wonderful reaction save to deny Parry.

Billy Clarke went on with 25 minutes to go and showed his pace and young promise by getting on the end of a Richards ball and lay it off for Forster whose shot was partially blocked.

Clarke then won the free kick which Frenchman Jimmy Juan brilliantly executed from 25 yards, curling over the wall and past Alexander.

It looked as if Town had done enough to get their deserved draw but sloppy defending cost them dear again as Jason Koumas was allowed time and space to fire a ball into a top corner that no keeper could have saved.

There was a George Best tribute before the highly entertaining game which was superbly observed by English and Welsh fans alike with players, officials and even police and stewards applauding.

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