Football: Johnson tames flagging Wolves

Ipswich Town 3 Johnson 3, Holland 57, Scowcroft 74 Wolves 0 Attend ance: 21,510
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The Independent Online
THERE is a new but utterly misleading theme song at Portman Road. It is an adaptation of the Fifties hit "Singing the Blues" and while it might accurately reflect the colour of Ipswich Town's shirts, it hardly portrays their present state of mind.

They are in a wonderful, highly watchable period of form and in comfortably beating Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday extended their unbeaten league run to 15 matches, the second best sequence in their history. If they can take it to a record 24, a play-off spot, perhaps more, will be a certainty.

For Wolves, under-achievers once more despite their place in the FA Cup semi-final, promotion is beginning to look its annual distant prospect. While Ipswich have found rich consistency they have been only consistently fitful. Behind in the third minute, there were moments when they threatened to equalise, but while Steve Bull is the most prolific scorer in the club's history, the location finders in his boots were clearly out of order. Twice he had the ball in the net only for infringements to prevent a goal being awarded and on three, maybe four other occasions he blazed wildly away and was off target.

When Simon Osborn was sent off for two fouls in three minutes, both deemed to be bookings, a wretched day was near completion. But from early in the piece this was Ipswich's match.

It was impossible to argue with the gentle pronouncement of their manager, George Burley, that they possess a wonderful team spirit, and all stick together, although he was not prepared to stipulate a particular reason for what turned their season round - they were once in penultimate position.

The revival certainly coincided with the arrival of David Johnson from Bury. He has appeared on only two losing sides, has scored 16 league goals and is being wooed by England, Jamaica and Northern Ireland. Johnson has not, said Burley, turned any of them down but wisely has asked for time to make his decision. He is only 21 and it will affect the rest of his life.

It was inevitably Johnson who put Ipswich ahead. He galloped into the area on the left, spreading the defenders, and although the angle was hardly inviting he volleyed first time with his left foot. Dean Richards raced back to scoop the ball clear, but it had crossed the line.

Wolves enjoyed a fair share of possession but they never matched Ipswich's precision in midfield, nor quite the ability to get down the flanks. There was a renewed earnestness about the home side after the break and when the impressively incisive Bobby Petta won a corner with a deflected shot the kick fell to Matt Holland, who leant back and struck home a crisp shot.

Osborn then committed his indiscretions, both against Petta, and Wolves conceded a third. Gus Uhlenbeek, advancing on the right, slipped the ball inside to James Scowcroft who used the time and space at his disposal to beat Hans Segers to his right. Burley was not far wrong in suggesting that Ipswich might have had five or six goals. Never mind the blues.