Football: Harford is relentless

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The Independent Online
Chelsea. . . . 2

Ipswich Town. .1

IPSWICH are a difficult side to beat. Chelsea, however, consigned them to their second defeat of the season despite some anxious moments in the final furlong.

The Blues looked to be winning at a canter when Mick Harford put them two goals up with barely 10 minutes to play, but Ipswich struck back. The substitute Steve Whitton rose unmarked to head home Gavin Johnson's cross from the left past Kevin Hitchcock. Whitton nearly levelled the score minutes later when he drilled Chris Kiwomya's knock-back just wide of the upright as Chelsea ended the game pinned in their own penalty area.

They should, however, have secured a safer margin during the first three-quarters of the match. Robert Fleck had already headed Graham Stuart's cross wide before Chelsea took the lead.

Just before the half-hour Ipswich squandered a corner and Chelsea broke out at speed. Dennis Wise brought the ball out before feeding Gareth Hall to his right. The full- back tucked a neat shot between Clive Baker and his near post.

Baker, making his full debut in place of the suspended Craig Forrest, redeemed this oversight several times over after the restart. It should be said, however, that Hitchcock also had his moments of heroism, most significantly, perhaps, in the 10th minute when he blocked Jason Dozzell's close- range header to keep the scores level.

Kiwomya's pace threatened to unsettle Chelsea, but until Whitton's arrival he lacked enough support to make it tell. He might benefit from the sort of service provided by the impressive Harford.

The Chelsea centre-forward won most things in the air and saw several chances go close before his endeavour was rewarded in the 79th minute. Wise's cross broke kindly to him and he swept the ball past Baker. Ipswich's late surge hinted that a full-scale Chelsea revival is still some way off, but on the day they deserved their three points.

Chelsea: K Hitchcock; G Hall, F Sinclair, A Townsend, D Lee, M Donaghy, G Stuart (G Le Saux, 74 min), R Fleck, M Harford, E Newton, D Wise. Subs not used: C Burley, A Chamberlain (gk). Manager: I Porterfield.

Ipswich Town: C Baker; P Whelan (S Whitton, 65 min), N Thompson, M Stockwell, J Wark, D Linighan, G Williams, P Goddard (S Palmer, 74 min), G Johnson, J Dozzell, C Kiwomya. Sub not used: J Winters (gk). Team manager: M McGiven.

Referee: B Hill (Market Harborough).

Goals: Hall (1-0, 27 min); Harford (2-0, 79min); Whitton (2-1, 80 min).