Football / FA Cup: Genchev overhauls Tranmere

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The Independent Online
Tranmere Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . .1

Ipswich. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

TWO GOALS in the last 20 minutes carried Ipswich Town past the brave challenge of Tranmere Rovers and the spectre of a Cup upset. Merseyside's last representatives in the FA Cup had taken a deserved early lead and - until the closing quarter of the match - were holding it comfortably.

It was an exciting contest that remarkably kept both its shape and sense of style in the face of a swirling wind and on a pitch that combined the sort of softness and stickiness usually associated with a treacle pudding.

Tranmere's goal came in the 17th minute when Ipswich failed to snuff out an incursion down the left; Ian Nolan crossed to the far post, John Morrissey and Ian Muir combined to flick the ball back, and there was Pat Nevin hurtling in to volley it home.

Rovers wisely refused to rest on their advantage, playing almost all the first period in the visitors' half. Their tenacious midfield, centred on the redoubtable Neil McNab, assured them the lions' share of possession, while the delightful skills of the flank players - Nevin and Morrissey - assured that they made good use of it. Chris Malkin on numerous occasions threatened to add to the scoreline, and the suspended John Aldridge must have looked on in envy at so many inviting chances. His stand- in, Ian Muir, was restricted to one dipping free kick in the first half which Clive Baker did well to turn over.

Ipswich however are a very hard side to beat. And although restricted in attack to taking long range shots, or using Chris Kiwomya's astonishing speed on the break, their defence weathered the storm with increasing authority.

As the second half wore on Tranmere's self-belief seemed to ebb. Their attacks, though still frequent, too often petered out in over-elaboration or ended with directionless crosses into the teeth of the gale.

Ipswich began to scent the possibility of escape. Eric Nixon made one brave save at the feet of Steve Whitton just after the hour but it was not until the visitors produced their first period of sustained pressure that the breakthrough finally came. In the 68th minute the Tranmere defence failed to clear an Ipswich throw-in and Jason Dozzell latched on to the falling ball to drive it superbly into the top right hand corner.

The goal decisively altered the dynamics of the game. Nine minutes later Kiwomya broke clear down the left and Nixon rashly dashed from his goal to challenge him. The Ipswich forward slipped the ball past the keeper and drove an angled shot against the foot of the post; as the ball trickled tantalisingly along the goal line, Boncho Genchev arrived to rap it emphatically into the net.

Tranmere sent on their substitutes in an attempt to reclaim the match, but despite some vociferous support and hectic pressure the task proved beyond their tiring limbs.

Tranmere Rovers: E Nixon; D Higgins, I Nolan, K Irons, S Mungall (M Hughes, 85 min), S Vickers, J Morrissey, N McNab, C Malkin, I Muir (D Martindale, 74 min), P Nevin. Manager: J King.

Ipswich Town: C Baker; G Johnson, N Thompson, G Williams, J Wark, D Linighan, F Yallop, B Genchev (P Whelan, 88 min), S Whitton, J Dozzell, C Kiwomya. Sub not used: V Bozinoski. Team Manager: M McGiven

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).

Goals: Nevin (1-0, 17 min); Dozzell (1-1, 68 min); Genchev (1-2, 77 min).