Football: Ipswich force a return to the drawing board

The debutants: David Platt
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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town 3

Naylor 18, Johnson 20, Scowcroft 71

Nottingham Forest 1

Bart-Williams pen 76

Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 20,830

THERE IS much to be said for patience as David Platt, Nottingham Forest's newly-installed manager, will no doubt be prepared to testify.

Sacked by Sampdoria after just five months in charge of the Italian giants, he set about the task of restoring Forest to the Premiership with great enthusiasm, but he endured a miserable return to English football with an abject defeat at Portman Road yesterday.

Platt may have had the Midas touch on the pitch, but he is untested as a manager and still has much to prove. Ipswich, though, have recovered well from the sale of Kieron Dyer to Newcastle United, bringing in Jermaine Wright from Crewe and Tranmere's John McGreal to cushion the blow.

Platt, backed by a new board, has money to spend and has not been afraid to use it. Three players - Moreno Mannini, Salvatore Matrecano and Gianluca Petrachi - arrived for a combined sum of pounds 2.5 million in midweek, to add to the acquisition of Aston Villa's Ricardo Scimeca in a pounds 3 million deal.

But there was little to be said for Platt's quick fix approach as George Burley's side, which has been carefully assembled under his stewardship over the past three seasons, tore them apart.

It took just 10 minutes for them to get into their rhythm but, when it did, the passing game which has become their hallmark was simply awesome.

The move of the half deserved to be the opening goal. Wright engineered the sequence and it was his slick movement which enabled David Johnson to drive at Mark Crossley. His shot was blocked and Richard Naylor should have buried the follow-up, but the goalkeeper saved well.

Ipswich grew in confidence and they were rewarded after 18 minutes when Jamie Clapham's free-kick from the left found Naylor unmarked in the box and the youngster headed beyond Crossley's reach.

Forest fell apart after that and bookings swiftly followed for Frenchman Thierry Bonalair and Matrecano. They had barely recovered from this torrid spell when Johnson doubled Ipswich's lead. The impressive Naylor lost Mannini and he knocked the ball down into the path of Johnson, who rifled a left-foot volley into the top corner.

Ipswich dominated the second half, with Matt Holland catching the eye in a congested midfield. The home side added a third after 71 minutes when James Scowcroft completed a clever one-two with Johnson and clipped the ball calmly under Crossley.

Forest earned a consolation in the 77th minute when substitute Marlon Harewood went down under an innocuous challenge inside the box. Captain Chris Bart-Williams took responsibility for the ensuing penalty and easily despatched it past Wright but it was far more than Forest deserved.

Burley refused to get carried away and said: "It was an excellent performance by the team and, from the start, there was only going to be one winner. I am delighted with everyone because you always look to get a good start in your first game."

If Burley's side can keep up yesterday's extraordinary pace, then it looks like another promotion challenge. For Platt it's back to the drawing board. "I can't hide my disappointment," he said. "We were so full of optimism before the game it's hard to take defeat in this manner."

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