Roberts equaliser spares Town's blushes

GARY Roberts spared Ipswich's blushes with a late goal as the Belgian second division side gave his team a tough test in an entertaining game.The former Accrington Stanley winger came off the bench to equalise after Luciano Olguin had put Royal Antwerp ahead and Shane Supple had replaced injured Alex Bruce.

By Derek Davis

GARY Roberts spared Ipswich's blushes with a late goal as the Belgian second division side gave his team a tough test in an entertaining game.

The former Accrington Stanley winger came off the bench to equalise after Luciano Olguin had put Royal Antwerp ahead and Shane Supple had replaced injured Alex Bruce.

Antwerp is famed for its diamonds, beer and chocolate, not so much its football any more, but they made Town work hard to get a draw.


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If the younger element of the 150 plus Town supporters did not visit the museums around the Grot Market in the city centre pre-match, then they would have got a taste of footballing history when they arrived at the ground.

The caged terraces they were placed in belong to a bygone age, which the players pointed out as they strolled on to the pitch on arrival at the Bosuil Stadium, but it is another example of how far English stadia have come since the Taylor Report.

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But at least the vociferous fans could stand on the terraces, drink beer and smoke - and the welcome from the locals was warm.

Manager Jim Magilton was pleased with his side's efforts and used the game to try out a new look engine room with Tommy Miller and Owen Garvan in the centre, Jon Walters on the right and Gavin Williams the left side of midfield.

It took time to settle and at times Town looked unbalanced as Antwerp exploited their hesitancy covering back.

The best chance of the first half was set up by Walters for Miller, who was denied a goal by Serbian keeper Predrag Ristovic, who then denied Williams for an excellent double save.

Counago had a penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be pushed over by Ray Frankel and skipper Jason de Vos was cautioned for protesting which brought the old chant, in English, from the Belgian crowd along the lines of 'who the devil are you' - quite amusing.

Alan Lee was denied by substitute keeper Kevin Wauthy saving at his feet in a flat second half, which only livened up when both teams used all their replacements.

The Antwerp goal came seven minutes from time with Alex Bruce struggling to get back after an injury and Luciano Olguin finished a Peter Utaka cross on a swift counter attack.

That prompted goalkeeper Supple to go on as a left back with Dan Harding shuffling across to cover centre half Bruce as Town had used all their other substitutes.

Roberts equalised less than two minutes later when he side-footed in from close range after Fabian Wilnis helped the ball on.

Warren Joyce, who will take Antwerp back to his old club Hull City this weekend, opted for one up front and made the extra numbers in midfield count as they swarmed through the centre.

Di Gregorio got on the end of a free kick after just five minutes but hit his effort over bar, while Frenchman Marc Gbarssin rattled the crossbar moments later.

Spencer Verbiest forced Neil Alexander into tipping the ball over the bar from a long range shot and Cameroon international Emanuel Kenmonge curled a free kick onto the roof of the net.

The second division side is the oldest club in Belgium and reached the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1993 only to lose at Wembley against Parma. They have struggled in recent years, even with the help of some Manchester United loanees.

But they showed enough to trouble Town who still look as if they have a lot to do before they start their Championship campaign at home to Sheffield Wednesday in ten days time.

Perhaps they will show more in their last pre-season friendly when they entertain Panathinaikos on Sunday.

Royal Antwerp: Ristovic (Wauthy, 58) Frankel (McStay, 68) El Jiko Addo, De Laet (van Hamert, 58) Baert (Utaka, 58), Di Gregorio, Verbiest, Gbarssin, Doherty (Souleymane, 46) Kenmonge (Olguin, 58). Subs not used: None

Ipswich Town: Alexander, Wright, Bruce, de Vos (Wilnis, 73) Harding, Walters (Clarke, 77) Miller, Garvan (O'Callaghan, 77) Williams (Roberts, 73) Lee, Counago (Haynes, 69) Subs not used: Supple,

Referee: Peter Vervecken (Belgium) Attendance: 3,500.

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