Football: Robson keeps faith in Ipswich

Ipswich Town 1 Bolton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Online
IF IPSWICH are to gain promotion this season then they will do so with the blessing of the manager who took them to, as yet, unparalleled heights.

Bobby Robson, the former England coach who guided the Suffolk club to FA Cup and Uefa Cup success in the late 1970s and early 80s, returned to Portman Road for the first time since ending his self-imposed exile on the Continent.

A nine-year spell in Europe, during which time he had successful spells coaching PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, has done little to dampen the enthusiasm for the game he loves. His return to the club coincided with Ipswich's fourth straight victory, their most successful start to a campaign since the Scot, George Burley, became the manager nearly five years ago.

Bolton, who beat Ipswich in last season's play-off semi-finals before falling at the final hurdle against Watford at Wembley, were determined, if not impressive. Colin Todd's side are still recovering from that shattering defeat last May and the likes of Mark Fish, Dean Holdsworth and the two Danish internationals Claus Jensen and Per Frandsen make up the far from merry band of players who want to leave the club.

While Bolton are still in recovery, Burley has taken heart from his third successive play-off failure and they lead the embryonic First Division table after just three games. Robson, for one, believes they will stay there. "They must have something going if they keep coming so close and I would think they will get into the Premiership this time round."

The striker David Johnson, who began his career at Manchester United, scored the winner after 68 minutes, his fifth of the season.

Robson picked out new signings Jermaine Wright and John McGreal as the men to lead Ipswich into the Premiership but he also reserved special praise for Johnson. "The boy's a real live-wire, someone who can terrorise defences and teams will be frightened of his pace," he added. "He has predatory instincts and I thought his finish was as cool as you like. He's got a bright future ahead of him."

Robson's return to the limelight at Ipswich had as much to do with the intense speculation linking him with Ruud Gullit's job at Newcastle United as it did for their burgeoning reputation. Who knows, the next time he returns, there could be three points at stake.

Goal: Johnson (68) 1-0.

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): R Wright; Thetis, Venus, McGreal; Stockwell (Wilnis, 61), Clapham, Holland, J Wright, Scowcroft; Johnson (Magilton, 83), Naylor (Axeldal, 90). Substitutes not used: Brown, Salmon (gk).

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Whitlow, Strong, Todd, Cox; Johansen, Jensen, Frandsen, Gardner; Taylor, Gudjohnsen. Substitutes not used: Phillips, Elliott, Al Jofree, Hansen, Jasskelainen (gk).

Referee: R Furnandiz (Doncaster).

Booking: Ipswich: Thetis. Sending-off: Thetis.

Man of the match: Johnson.

Attendance: 17,696.

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