Stylish Town cruise to victory

IPSWICH Town gave a spirited display to score a crucial victory over a slick Reading side who already look assured of a play-off place. The opening 45 minutes produced some of the most exciting and stylish football seen at Portman Road all season.

IPSWICH Town gave a spirited display to score a crucial victory over a slick Reading side who already look assured of a play-off place. The opening 45 minutes produced some of the most exciting and stylish football seen at Portman Road all season.

Thomas Gaardsoe headed Ipswich into the lead after 38 seconds only for Reading to level through the livewire Nicky Forster in the 16th minute.

For a while Reading looked the better side before a cracking long shot from Matt Holland, Town's inspirational captain knocked the stuffing out of the Berkshire side.

The second half turned a bit sour with Ipswich assuming control after Adrian Viveash was sent off in the 58th minute for an undisciplined shove on Gaardsoe off the ball.

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Down to 10 men Reading lost their rhythm. Ipswich needed a third goal to enable them to breathe more easily. This came in the 70th minute when Jim Magilton fired into the net after adventurous work by Fabian Wilnis, who had made a devastatingly effective break from the back.

Wilnis deserved the goal himself and must certainly share the credit. Ipswich keep their play-off dream alive despite the fact that their first-team squad has been reduced so much by injury.

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Marcus Bent gave the Reading central defence a torrid evening while Ipswich, apart from a 20-minute spell in the first half, were resilient at the back.

Gaardsoe was strong in the air and on the ground while Richard Naylor will have learnt a lot from the experience. Chris Makin's return at left-back helped subdue Luke Chadwick, the loanee from Manchester United who has been so effective against other Division One defences.

Andy Marshall gave another commendable performance in goal and could hardly be faulted when Reading scored. In fact the way he saved the first shot from Forster was exceptional and there was nothing he could do about the rebound.

The midfield battle was intriguing. James Harper was Reading's most creative player while Andy Hughes looked good while his team was on top. Ipswich though were well served, especially by Magilton and Holland.

Ipswich made the perfect start with a goal resulting from their first attack. Marcus Bent won a free-kick some 30 yards out in the inside-right channel.

Reuser, Town's dead-ball specialist, curled the free-kick into the penalty area where Gaardsoe netted with a powerful header.

Reading, with Viveash recalled to the side with Williams injured and Mackie suspended, looked disorganised.

In the third minute Viveash went off for a bandage to be placed round his cut forehead.

Reuser hoisted a long shot for Ipswich over the bar and Forster was way off target from 20 yards for Reading but it soon became clear why the visitors are occupying a play-off place.

Reading won two corners in rapid succession, the first coming when a shot from Hughes was deflected by Naylor.

In the 12th minute Naylor fouled Forster just outside the penalty area on the Reading right. Shorey tried to beat Marshall with a curling shot which the Town keeper held comfortably.

Then a long clearance by Hahnemann was nodded on for Hughes to try a lob from the right-hand side of the penalty area. The ball grazed the bar.

Then it was Marshall to the rescue when he blocked a close-range shot from Forster with his knees.

Ipswich could not hold out against such intense pressure. Reading drew level in the 16th minute. Chadwick put Hughes clear down the right. His low cross left Forster to close in on goal. His first shot was blocked by Marshall but the ball rebounded for Forster to knock the rebound over the keeper who was still on the ground.

In the 21st minute Marcus Bent controlled the ball cleverly on the edge of the Reading penalty area but his cross was driven with such pace that no one could get anywhere near it.

Viveash was having problems with his bandage and went off to have it replaced more tightly to stop the blood seeping through.

Counago put in a right-foot shot with no great power but Hahnemann dived full length to make the save which seemed a bit excessive.

Forster, who scored a hat-trick against Ipswich at Reading in October, cracked a fierce shot from out on the left into the side netting.

After 24 minutes Tyson, the young left winger who has displaced Salako, put in a low shot which Marshall was happy to push away for a corner. Forster's pace was causing problems although Naylor was awarded a free-kick when both of them took a tumble in the penalty area.

Then the match started to turn Ipswich's way. In the 28th minute Town had a fair shout for a penalty turned down. Reuser went in pursuit of a ball from Marcus Bent. He had his legs taken from under him by Murty but, as he tried to keep his feet, the referee let play continue.

On the half hour Ipswich produced a marvellous move that deserved a better fate. Wilnis and Holland were involved in the build-up. Counago then produced a brilliant piece of football in the penalty area to send Reuser cutting in on goal from the left. The Dutchman let fly with a powerful drive that skimmed the bar.

Ipswich regained the lead in the 31st minute with a breathtaking 30-yard drive from Holland that swerved in the air and left Hahnemann helpless. It was a memorable strike for Holland's fifth goal of the season and his second in the space of four days.

Counago cut in from the left to unleash a full-blooded shot that Hahnemann deflected for a corner. Ipswich had overcome their sticky spell and were once again looking sharp. The half ended with Ipswich with a narrow advantage knowing full well the threat that Reading still posed.

Magilton almost found Counago with a through ball from a deep position. Then Ipswich had a spell of passing the ball outside the Reading penalty area with no one prepared to try a shot.

Reading attacked with great pace in the 52nd minute when a drive by Chadwick from 12 yards was blocked by Gaardsoe, who was a pillar of strength in the Town defence. Salako took over from Tyson in the 55th minute as Reading tried a fresh attacking option.

Three minutes later the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Viveash pushed Gaardsoe to the ground off the ball. Both assistant referees raced onto the field and once the fracas had died down Viveash was shown the red card.

Then Ipswich might have had a penalty when there looked to be a hand-ball after a corner from Magilton. A flag was waved but the referee had other ideas.

Reading brought on Newman in place of Sidwell as they were forced to reshuffle. Ipswich were now in control and a backheel by Magilton almost played in Marcus Bent who was showing no sign of the hamstring that had troubled him at the weekend.

Gaardsoe was booked for a late challenge on Forster in the 67th minute but three minutes later Ipswich scored their third goal which eased the pressure. It was carved out of nothing by Wilnis and Magilton.

Wilnis cut out a Reading pass and surged up the field before releasing the ball to Magilton. The Dutchman received it back and sprinted into the penalty area only to have his shot blocked. Magilton was following up to fire the rebound past the helpless Hahnemann.

Ipswich brought on Darren Bent in place of Counago, who was looking out of sorts, while Reading tried Watson as substitute for Chadwick. The rhythm had gone from the game although Reuser had a free-kick blocked by the defensive wall after Brown had brought down Marcus Bent. A couple of salvos from Hughes and then Brown proved that Reading had not given up but it was Ipswich who ended on a high with a shot from Reuser stinging Hahnemann's hands.

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