Football: Ipswich hearts broken by Taylor

Ipswich Town 4 Bolton Wanderers 3 agg 4-4; score at 90min 3-2; Bolton win on away goals
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The Independent Online
FOR DRAMA, possibly only that memorable play-off final of fours years ago involving the same Bolton, who came from two goals behind then to beat Reading 4-3, could compare with it. Four times Ipswich took the lead in last night's second leg First Division play-off semi-final and three times the Wanderers pulled level before eventually going through by virtue of the away goals' rule

It was the third consecutive year that Ipswich's hopes of reaching the Premiership had been dashed at this stage but never so cruelly. Throughout the evening the side who had occupied that second automatic promotion position for much of the season were within reach of a place in that Wembley final on 31 May. If they thought the final day of the season had been a nerve shredding affair, sadly, they had not seen anything yet when a looping header from Kieron Dyer put them ahead for a third time, with 20 seconds of normal time left to haul them back from the brink. Surely the impetus - not to mention a passionate Portman Road crowd - would sustain them in extra-time. But just six minutes into it, Bolton equalised yet again, putting them ahead on aggregate, when Per Frandsen shot was beaten out by Richard Wright in the Ipswich goal and Bob Taylor followed up for his second goal of the night.

Still Ipswich were not done for and Matt Holland scored his second, but though it gave Ipswich a richly deserved victory on the night it was not enough.

This second leg, which had been going nicely Ipswich's way, took a sudden turn for the worse, from a Suffolk point of view, five minutes into the second half when Bolton cancelled out Holland's first-half goal. Ricardo Gardner made a galloping run down the right wing to cross the ball for Eidur Gudjohnson to fire in a shot. Wright could only parry it and Taylor followed up to score.

In the space of a minute Ipswich were level through Dyer, but despite equalising, the advantage, if not exactly with Ipswich after the first half, was now with Bolton if the score remained the same at the end of extra time.

The expectation must have been frightening for the Ipswich players. They knew they dare not fail again at this stage and the early signs were not good when David Johnson, after good work on the left by Bobby Petta, miskicked so horribly, in a good position, that the ball spun at a right angle, never mind threaten Steve Banks's goal.

Petta was quickly identified by his team-mates as a possible match-winner and was duly fed the ball at every available opportunity. In the eighth minute, however, it was from a central position that Ipswich first seriously threatened. A perfectly weighted through ball by Fabian Wilnis gave Johnson the opportunity to show his pace, but Andy Todd got back to dispossess him with a brave and legitimate tackle in the box.

Bolton had displayed something of a soft centre and James Scowcroft, who moments earlier had headed just over the bar from a Petta delivery, now located it again with dire consequences for Bolton. Holland was the man who collected it and, holding off a challenge from Robbie Elliott, ran on to steer in a shot which rolled across goal and went in off the far post.

Scowcroft came tantalisingly close to making it two, from yet another Petta cross, but Elliott got in enough of a challenge to make life difficult for the young striker. Even though Bolton had almost as much possession as Ipswich in the first half, Wright, in the Ipswich goal, never had a shot to save.

Five minutes into the second half Bolton were level when Taylor scored on the rebound . A minute later Dyer put Ipswich back in front with a soft effort, but Bolton crucially still held the advantage. Frandsen had a shot deflected in after 84 minutes to put Bolton in front on aggregate, but there was still an awful lot of football to be played.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Wilnis, Mowbray, Venus, Clapham; Petta, Dyer, Magilton, Holland; Johnson, Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Naylor, Thetis, Stockwell.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2) Banks; Cox, Todd, Fish, Elliott; Johansen, Jensen, Frandsen, Gardner; Gudjohnson, Taylor. Substitutes not used: Bergsson, Warhurst, Hansen.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).