Grimsby Town. . .0
UNTIL the Bulgarian Embassy was consulted this week, no one knew how to spell his name, but however you write it Boncho Genchev scored his name into the hearts and minds of Ipswich Town fans with a hat-trick of rare opportunism. He was a snip from Sporting Lisbon, who are managed by the town's most famous expatriate. Bobby Robson it was who recommended him, but only yesterday did Genchev give a performance to match his glowing reference. Ipswich were worried by the absence of their top scorer, Chris Kiwomya, but Genchev and Paul Goddard, the player he replaced at the end of last year, combined to put the grim into Grimsby.
It took time for them to get to know each other, so it may have been early nerves which prompted Goddard's 20th minute miss from David Linighan's set-up, but once Ipswich had warmed up they shed all the inhibitions that have tagged them as hard to beat but easy to contain.
The first goal was typical of the confidence that they were to show from then on. Mick Stockwell sent a searching pass up to Jason Dozzell, who from the edge of the box located Genchev. His stylish finish gave Rhys Wilmot a foretaste of what to expect later.
Their nerves calmed, the home side started to carve out openings with an ease that hinted at a drubbing. But Paul Futcher's wise head in Grimsby's central defence helped stem the flow when Ipswich penetrated the box, and before half-time the best chances were from long range. A thumping shot from Dozzell whistled past the post, while a mis-hit effort from Neil Thompson gave Wilmot time to palm it away.
Grimsby had a timid first half but, soon after the break, a shot from Clive Mendonca found Clive Baker alert despite his previous inactivity. Ipswich tentatively resumed their place in the driving seat, and it was with mounting panic that on the hour Grimsby crammed the box with defenders to deal with an attack that saw Goddard apparently felled in the melee by Graham Rodger. Calls for a penalty were forgotten when, from Thompson's corner, John Wark was allowed to head the ball unopposed into an open goal.
Grimsby's hopes of springing a surprise that their respectable position in the First Division had promised promptly disappeared. Minutes later it could very easily have been 3-0 as intricate work from Goddard set up Dozzell with a chance as unmissable as could be, but he somehow allowed the ball to roll along the goal-line in front of him. More good work from Goddard and Genchev spared Dozzell's blushes: Goddard won the ball in front of the area, advanced towards the byline and pulled the ball inside for the Bulgarian, who slotted his shot past Wilmot with surgical accuracy.
That all but ended the contest, and with a quarter of an hour to go a carnival atmosphere enveloped the ground as completely as the fog had. It must have been the celebratory Mexican wave which was on Goddard's mind when, breaking with Genchev, he met his team-mate's perfectly weighted cross with a header that looped harmlessly over the bar. But there was still time for Dozzell to fluff another chance and Genchev, meeting Thompson's injury-time cross, to head in for his hat-trick.
Ipswich Town: C Baker; G Johnson (F Yallop 79 min), N Thompson, M Stockwell, J Wark, D Linighan, G Williams, B Genchev, S Whitton (V Bozinoski 65 mins), J Dozzell, P Goddard. Team Manager: M McGiven.
Grimsby Town: R Wilmot; J McDermott (G Croft 79 min), P Agnew, P Futcher, G Rodger, J Dobbin, G Childs (M Smith 66 min), D Gilbert, P Groves, C Mendonca, T Rees. Manager: A Buckley.
Referee: V Callow (Solihull).
Goals: Genchev (1-0, 29 min); Wark (2-0, 60 min); Genchev (3-0, 75 min); Genchev (4-0, 90 min).