Football: Ipswich in ascendant

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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

RICHARD WRIGHT celebrated becoming a father last night by keeping his sixth clean sheet in seven games to help take Ipswich Town into second place in the First Division.

Ipswich have won each of those six games to lead the kind of assault that Wolves, top at the end of August, were envisaging maintaining. But, after a sequence of just two wins in 14 games, their manager, Mark McGhee, is being invited to answer questions over the strength of his job security.

Wright enjoyed the sort of match he must have been hoping for after attending his son's arrival into the world this afternoon. Barely tested all evening, the England under-21 goalkeeper watched his team-mates sustain their impressive run with goals from James Scowcroft and Mick Stockwell.

George Burley, the Ipswich manager, said there had been no danger of his keeper missing the match. "I'd have dragged him from the hospital first," he quipped. "At least he didn't drop the baby. We have only conceded one goal in seven games which says much for Richard's ability.

"It was not our best performance by any means but we defended for our lives. It is nice to be in the top two but we are not kidding ourselves as there is a long way to go."

McGhee was in a less jovial mood after watching Scowcroft fire Ipswich ahead in the 17th minute, chesting down Matt Holland's centre and shooting through Mike Stowell's legs, before Stockwell finished the job in injury time, heading in Richard Naylor's right-wing cross.

"We were beaten by the better team," said the Wolves manager. "I've absolutely no qualms that my players have given me everything they've got over recent games but we're well short at the moment.

"If we had Kieron Dyer in our team we would have won the match. And if we had the strikers David Johnson and James Scowcroft with us we would also have won, but we are suffering with injuries."

Wolves, boosted by the return of playmaker Simon Osborn, were truly short of firepower, on-loan Guy Whittingham ran gamely enough but never looked like making up for the continued absence of Steve Bull and Robbie Keane.

McGhee has received sufficient votes of confidence to assume Wolves will stand by him until the end of the season when his contract expires. "I'm totally realistic about it," he said. "I'm doing the best I can with the players available to me. I've got funds available but so far I've not been able to acquire a player who could, tonight for example, make the difference. We did not create enough and never looked like scoring.

"If someone makes a decision based on the last couple of games, there's nothing I can do about that."

Ipswich Town (5-3-2): Wright; Taricco (Hunt 90), Thetis, Mowbray, Venus, Clapham; Stockwell, Dyer, Holland; Johnson, Scowcroft (R Naylor 74). Substitute not used: Petta.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Muscat, Emblen, Curle, Gilkes; Corica (Foley, 85), Robinson (L Naylor, 50), Osborn, Sedgley; Connolly, Whittingham. Substitute not used: Ferguson.

Referee: R Furnandiz (Doncaster).

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