Football: Protests in vain as rain thwarts City

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The Independent Online
IT NEVER rains but it pours for Manchester City, writes Derick Allsop. The rain which forced several postponements yesterday also caused City's game against Ipswich Town at Maine Road to be abandoned after 39 minutes, when the home team were leading 2-0.

City, desperate for points after only one win in 14 League matches, had gone ahead through Kare Ingebrigtsen after four minutes. On the half-hour David Linighan's back pass was held up in a puddle and Michael Vonk stepped in to score City's second.

David Elleray, the referee, abandoned the match nine minutes later because he deemed the conditions dangerous and unplayable. City's incensed goalkeeper, Tony Coton, had to be restrained by team-mates and his manager, Brian Horton, as he confronted Elleray. About 150 fans stayed on the terraces in protest for more than an hour despite appeals from Horton. City will reduce admission prices for the rearranged game by pounds 3.

Elleray said: 'When we started it was playable. The managers said that if the conditions became farcical they would support me in my decision to abandon it. The safety of the players was my concern.' He added: 'Coton has apologised for what happened at the end and I have accepted his apology.'

Blackburn's home match against Wimbledon was called off five minutes before kick-off as the teams warmed up. Alan Wilkie, the referee, said: 'My decision was accepted by both managers with good grace.'

Waterlogged pitches also accounted for the games at Leeds, Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Barnet, Port Vale and Chester. Tonight's Scottish Premier League match between Motherwell and Celtic is off because of a frozen pitch.