Matt strikes to spare Town's blushes

IT wasn't pretty, it wasn't particularly entertaining but Ipswich squeezed their way past lowly Chester last night.Matt Richards spared everyone extra time and the possibility of penalties with a marvellous first-time shot six minutes from time to ensure victory.

By Derek Davis

IT wasn't pretty, it wasn't particularly entertaining but Ipswich squeezed their way past lowly Chester last night.

Matt Richards spared everyone extra time and the possibility of penalties with a marvellous first-time shot six minutes from time to ensure victory.

It was a case of job done against a gutsy Chester side that deserve enormous credit for their attempts.


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But the win came at a cost with Alex Bruce picking up his 10th booking of the season after a clash with Jamie Hand in a dispute that continued after the final whistle.

The pair needed to be separated by a steward and the referee gave them both a stern talking-to as the rest of the players milked the applause.

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Bruce had earlier clashed with his own keeper Shane Supple and left the pitch an angry young man.

His caution means he will miss the fourth round tie at home to Swansea and the away game at Stoke City the following Tuesday.

It is not the best of timing for Ipswich with their current injury woes.

The Blues were forced to make a number of changes with skipper Jason De Vos out for six weeks with a cracked bone in a foot. Owen Garvan was out with a gashed foot, Darren Currie the flu and David Wright was not eligible.

Richard Naylor wore the captain's armband and Bruce joined him at centre-half. Back came Fabian Wilnis for his 299th Blues appearance, while Danny Haynes started up front with Alan Lee with Jamie Peters on the right wing.

The first half was far better for Town than the first game but even though they imposed their game on the League Two side they could not get the breakthrough.

Naylor had the best chance when a Gary Roberts corner fell to him three yards out but he contrived to slice wide.

Roberts went close with two free kicks, the first clipped the top of the crossbar and the second onto the roof of the net.

As in the first game Chester's Gregg Blundell put the ball in the net but the flag went up. Many people believed it was offside as he put the ball away at the second attempt but bizarrely a free kick was given to Chester instead for a foul with both teams complaining.

Jaime Peters' pace was causing Chester all sorts of problems and he went close with a left-foot shot from 20 yards and played an excellent ball in for Haynes, whose shot was superbly blocked by Phil Bolland.

The young Canadian, who is likely to leave in the summer due to permit restrictions and lack of regular first team football here, hit a thunderous shot at the start of the second half which the keeper did well to save.

Richards replaced the injured Sylvain Legwinski at half-time, and received a good round of applause when he trotted on. The accolades were to get even louder.

Price and Bruce clashed when Bruce wanted to leave a loose ball to the keeper instead of clearing it himself with Blundell lurking. Words were exchanged and Price showed his anger by pushing his team-mate

Visiting skipper Roberto Martinez had a brief chance to fire Chester ahead but froze and the moment went as he was escorted away from the danger are.

The deadlock was finally broken when Roberts played a neat ball into the path of substitute Richards and he struck his first-time shot superbly to beat Danby low down to the keeper's right.

Apart from the goal-less draw at the Deva Stadium, the clubs' only previous meeting was also at Portman Road in February 1980 when John Wark and George Burley scored to engineer a come from behind win before going out to Everton in the quarter-finals.

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