Football / FA Premiership: Ipswich prove a basic point

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. . .0

Ipswich Town. . .0

Attendance: 31,317

BY the law of averages, the campaign for 'back to you know what' must succeed somewhere. It was extremely effective, for instance, yesterday at Elland Road where one side attempted to score and the other indulged in the simple, old-fashioned exercise of trying to stop them.

This is not always pretty to watch - actually, it is almost never pretty to watch - but for all the understandable moans to be heard yesterday it has been going on in football since basics were invented.

Leeds almost scored after 15 seconds when the Ipswich goalkeeper, Craig Forrest, had to swoop to his left to save Steve Hodge's header. The match never looked as likely again to be blessed with a goal.

Thereafter, Ipswich were not deflected from their primary purpose. They were so well regimented that when they rushed to ensure they were behind the ball, as they did often, it was in such an orderly style that they might have been on parade. The sergeant major at the heart of it all was John Wark. Playing as a sweeper he was never ruffled, always in command.

Leeds must have found this frustrating but they retained their patience, if not always their flair. Gordon Strachan tried perpetually to develop something, anything, down the left flank and when Gary McAllister had the ball there was at least the chance of a cheeky, prodded little pass which might upset the most rigid parade line. The Leeds captain, too, was a victim of the game's inevitable course. His second-half free kick which marginally dipped over from 35 yards was understandable, his shot from five yards further out a few minutes later less so.

Maybe he had decided by then it needed something freakish on a sticky pitch which was getting gradually worse. His manager Howard Wilkinson clearly thought so. 'In difficult circumstances we did as well as we could though I don't want to make the pitch an excuse' he said.

Ipswich had got what they came for and Ian Marshall, given an unexpected sight of goal after a loose pass by David Kelly, might have snatched it. But Ipswich are in the business of stopping goals, not scoring them. It's a basic skill.