On this day in Ipswich Town’s history: super sub Clarke sinks Saints
PUBLISHED: 05:59 09 September 2020
In this daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history, selecting one particular year, this time from 14 years ago when Billy Clarke ruined George Burley’s Portman Road return
Billy Clarke was the star performer as Town weathered an early storm from Southampton, with former Town boss George Burley are the helm, to snatch all three points on September 9, 2006.
This was manager Jim Magilton’s first home victory as new Town boss - he had been appointed in early June following Joe Royle’s departure - but for a while it looked like his side would be over-run.
Powerful striker Kenwyne Jones, a Trinidad & Tobago international, had put the Saints 1-0 up inside three minutes, and Town wobbled before finally find their feet in the second half.
Burley’s men lived to regret a spate of missed first-half chances to add to their lead when Jermaine Wright, one of three ex-Town players in the Southampton ranks - together with keeper Kelvin Davis and defender Chris Makin - tripped Alan Lee in the box.
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Up stepped Simon Walton to convert the 67th minute penalty, past Davis.
Lee had been operating up front with Jon Macken, who was making his Town debut, but it was the introduction of the diminutive Clarke as a substitute for Macken, two minutes before the equaliser, that proved crucial.
Clarke delightfully headed home Mark Noble’s 78th minute free-kick to earn all three points for Town.
Magilton’s first three matches had ended in defeat, to Wolves, Crystal Palace and Leicester, but there were encouraging signs with this win over Southampton, following on from a first victory at QPR.
However, Town flattered to deceive for much of the campaign, finishing in 14th spot. Southampton made the play-offs in sixth slot, before losing to Burley’s former club Derby County on a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final stage.
Academy product Clarke only scored three league goals for Town from 49 appearances, although 29 of these 49 games were as a substitute, before his exit in 2009.
He has been much-travelled since then, playing for the likes of Blackpool, Crawley, Charlton, Bradford (three spells, including a current one), Plymouth and Grimsby.
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