Football Round-up: Ipswich bring their losing streak to an end

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The Independent Online
WITH their club slithering down the Premiership table almost as fast as Chelsea, fans of Ipswich Town will have approached the past four days with all the joy and confidence of a claustrophobic waiting for a lift. No wonder manager John Lyall had been touted as a Football Association choice as caretaker England manager.

But his stock must have fallen after a sturdy defensive performance earned Ipswich a draw at leaders Manchester United on Wednesday and yesterday they returned home to Portman Road to beat Blackburn Rovers, who were second. It was Town's first League win at home since 21 August.

Fittingly, it was won by an unsung player. Rovers' goalkeeper Tim Flowers could only parry a 15-yard shot from Ian Marshall, the Suffolk side's top scorer, and Eddie Youds rammed in the loose ball for his first goal since joining from Everton the season before last.

With only one win and one goal in five games, Birmingham City were in no fit state for a visit from Tranmere Rovers and so it proved. Their five-man defence was a shambles as John King's side consolidated their second spot in the First Division with a 3-0 win, John Aldridge scoring twice.

However, a far more impressive performance was Southend United's 3-1 win at Derby County, which moved them into third place. Paul Simpson put the Rams ahead after just four minutes but Southend equalised with a goal of rare quality when Gary Jones dummied Ricky Otto's cross and Jonathan Hunt drove home left footed. Jones put Southend ahead and Otto sealed United's fifth away win.

In fact, recoveries were the order of yesterday. None was more spectacular or devastating than Luton's. Two-nil down at home to Stoke after 19 minutes, they blasted three goals in each half past the Potters with Kerry Dixon scoring a hat-trick.

Leicester City must feel the comparatively few pounds spent on Huddersfield's Iwan Roberts last week was worth it. With City trailing 2-0 to Wolves at Filbert Street, Steve Bull taking his season's total to 11, Roberts struck twice in six second-half minutes. And after last Sunday's abject performance against Forest, who would have expected West Brom to be so prickly at the Hawthorns where they burst Portsmouth's bubble so thoroughly. Bob Taylor's goal in their 4-1 win was his 12th this term.

Until yesterday, neither Barnet nor Fulham had registered a home win in the Second Division. Visits from Rotherham and Swansea settled that. The Bees, as ever, did it the hard way. Player/manager Gary Phillips saved Chris Wilder's penalty before goals by Kelly Haag and Zeke Rowe sent Underhill over the moon. Fulham's win was more comfortable.

At the top, all three clubs won. Jimmy Quinn scored twice as the leaders, Reading, beat Bournemouth 3-0, bringing his season's tally to 23. Inevitably, second-placed Stockport's Kevin Francis scored their winner at Hull.

Deep gloom at Deepdale, where they witnessed the Third Division performance of the week and, clearly, it wasn't Preston's. Fourth-placed Wycombe's 3-2 win could not have been more dramatic with Hakan Hayrettin's decisive goal coming in injury-time. Second- placed Crewe, who beat Chester, are now just a point behind.

In Scotland, four teams now share the lead on 23 points. Rangers thoroughly blew their chance to go clear at the top despite putting new-signing Gordon Durie straight into their line-up at Firhill Park. But Partick Thistle's Isaac English had read a different script, darting in from the right after 22 minutes to score with a superb low left-foot shot. For Rangers, Mark Hateley missed two first-half chances before substitute Peter Huistra equalised. Aberdeen crushed early season leaders Hibernian 4-0 and Motherwell's match was postponed.

In Germany, Bayern Munich lost 3-1 at newly-promoted Freiburg, which is rather like Alex Ferguson's side succumbing to Swindon, and Bundesliga leaders Eintracht Frankfurt were beaten 3-0 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach. Uwe Wassmer was Freiburg's hero, scoring all their goals, while Moenchengladbach's Swedish international Martin Dahl scored twice in Frankfurt. After Wednesday's embarrassing home defeat by Southampton, Aston Villa can recall Dalian Atkinson, Ray Houghton and Gordon Cowans for today's match at Liverpool. The Reds' right-back Rob Jones could be fit after knee surgery.