Football: Mason goes against grain

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Ipswich Town. . . .0

Wimbledon . . . . .0

Attendance: 12,372

SOMETIMES, a match that promises little can deliver a pleasant surprise. This was not one of those times. Wimbledon confirmed their place among the more resistible Premiership attractions and Ipswich as one of the least movable objects. Stalemate was the result - and for long periods a pretty ugly one at that.

Almost an hour had passed before very much happened to raise the pulse rate. John Fashanu, briefly free of the alternating attentions of John Wark and David Linighan, tried to catch out Craig Forrest from the edge of the penalty area by curling the ball over his head. The ball hit the crossbar and did so again when Warren Barton athletically hooked back the rebound. In the event, Barton was offside but at least someone was prepared to use some imagination.

It gave Ipswich something of a fright, evidently, because at last they accepted that it might be an idea to try to score themselves. Hans Segers needed to save twice as a couple of crosses found Ian Marshall's head, the first time superbly with his right hand, at full stretch. He kept out another attempt from Paul Mason, who had replaced Eddie Youds at half-time. Mason played so positively that one suspected he must have missed the pre-match briefing.

'They play like they are away from home,' Joe Kinnear, Wimbledon's manager, observed of Ipswich. 'They have eight men behind the ball at all times. They are very hard to break down and will always try to hit you on the break.'

Judging by their reaction at the close, the Ipswich fans seemed to wish this particular team had been playing away, with another one in its place. However, Mick McGiven, team manager in the Portman Road regime, bristled when it was suggested that his side, who have won only four home games this season, were boring.

In some respects you cannot blame his tactics. Neither Marshall nor Chris Kiwomya, his regular partner, exactly packs a Suffolk Punch and survival is probably their realistic goal. After one defeat in their last 13 games they can at least look forward to that.