Football: Chelsea cross pain barrier

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The Independent Online
Chelsea 2 Ipswich Town 0 Smiling in defeat is something football managers are often called upon to do. But yesterday's match evoked a more complex response from the man in charge at Stamford Bridge, Glenn Hoddle - wincing in victory.

While two goals in the last 16 minutes from Dennis Wise and Neil Shipperley brought relief, injuries to Paul Furlong and Jakob Kjeldbjerg added two more names to a list that is becoming alarmingly long.

Furlong sustained a hamstring injury after 62 minutes, while Kjeldbjerg suffered a bad cut and potential ligament damage to his left knee after a 90th-minute tackle by the Ipswich substitute, David Gregory. Both Chelsea players left the field on stretchers.

'I have never known an injury situation like it at any club I've been with,' Hoddle said. 'We have now got 14 first-team players on the treatment table.

We may even have to field some injured players against West Ham on Wednesday.'

Until Eddie Newton's moment of enterprise after 74 minutes gave Wise the opportunity to open the scoring, this home fixture appeared to be a bridge too far for a side evidently wearied by their midweek European efforts.

Ipswich began as tentatively as their position in the table might suggest, but the incursions of Adrian Paz, Claus Thomsen and Boncho Genchev - who hit the bar with a 28th-minute header - gave them cause for hope.

They were urged on by the post-modernist chants of their supporters: 'Ipswich] Believe] Believe] You can, you can]' The positive vibes appeared to have an effect, but sadly for the visitors it was that of galvanising Newton, pigeon-toed and unpredictable, who produced a fierce dipping shot from 35 yards, which shuddered the bar and dropped invitingly for Wise to drive the ball into the empty net.

That moment of improvisation in a largely plodding match seemed to dishearten the visitors. But David Rocastle, who had an intermittently promising game, had to clear off the line from Simon Milton before Shipperley made the game safe as he beat Craig Forrest, the Ipswich goalkeeper, to Gavin Peacock's finely weighted through-ball and rounded him before scoring from an acute angle.

Chelsea move up a place to sixth, but at their current rate they will be out of players before their fixtures can be completed. Yesterday, the substitute, David Hopkin, was called on to the bench after having his leg taken out of plaster - something which was not due to happen until tomorrow.

With John Spencer and Mark Stein already out, the loss of Furlong leaves them particularly ill-served with natural forwards. Shipperley, a rumbustious presence, looks the most durable of players, however, and Peacock might also be pushed forward.

As for Ipswich, the position looks bleak. Their veteran player-coach, John Wark, said that they had as much ability as many other teams. It was just that matter of confidence. There is plenty more work for the post-modernists this season.

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharine; Barness, Johnsen, Kjeldbjerg, Hall; Rocastle, Peacock, Newton, Wise; Furlong (Hopkin, 62), Shipperley. Substitutes not used: Lee, Hitchcock (gk).

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Forrest; Yallop, Youds, Sedgley, Vaughan; Thomsen, Palmer, Williams (Gregory, 77), Milton; Genchev, Paz (Stockwell, 77).

Substitute not used: Baker (gk).

Referee: D Hill (Leicester).