Football: Scowcroft climbs high to rouse the Suffolk faithful

Ipswich Town 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
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A HEADED goal by James Scowcroft last night restored Ipswich Town to their customary position among the play-off places, beyond which they never quite manage to advance. Wolves would just like the chance to be that high, but remain stalled in 11th position after their first defeat since 25 September.

They could not complain about this reverse, never having taken control of the game. The outcome was uncertain until the finish, however, since Ipswich, who had not previously won in November, are not in one of their more fluent periods. Steady enough at the back, whichever combination of central defenders is used, and with the game's outstanding performer in one of them, John McGreal, they are suffering the wider effects of David Johnson's unsettling traumas. They have contributed to the striker scoring only twice in 15 matches and admitting that he is now more concerned with keeping a place in his club side rather than chasing an international dream.

Wolves have progressed well since losing 3-0 at Sheffield United two months ago. Colin Lee, having made Ade Akinbiyi from Bristol City the Nationwide League's most expensive player at pounds 3.5m, immediately switched to a 3-5-2 formation and was rewarded with an unbeaten run of 10 matches before last night in which the pacy striker scored eight times, including one hat-trick.

As a former Norwich man, he received a voluble reception from the Suffolk crowd, but endeared himself to them early on by running offside to spoil several promising attacks. When he finally timed his run after half an hour, a goal should have resulted. Richard Wright could only push away the shot to Neil Emblen, five yards out, but McGreal threw himself in the way and the ball rebounded off Emblen for a goal-kick.

Emblen, more usually seen in defence or midfield, continued to offer a dogged physical presence to complement Akinbiyi's pace. It was surprising, however, that the substitute Haavard Flo was not given an earlier opportunity to match his brother Tore Andre's scoring efforts at Stamford Bridge: asking him to save the game in the 88th minute was a bit much.

By that time Ipswich had been ahead for more than half an hour. Just after the interval Scowcroft managed a header that sent Mike Stowell scrambling across his goal, which proved a warning not heeded.

In the 55th minute Scowcroft climbed above the Frenchman, Ludovic Pollet, to head McGreal's long diagonal cross over Stowell.

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): R Wright; McGreal, Mowbray, Brown; Wilnis, Stockwell (J Wright, 76), Magilton, Holland, Clapham; Scowcroft, Johnson (Naylor, 87). Substitutes not used: Salmon (gk), Croft, Axeldal.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Curle, Sedgley, Pollet; Bazeley, Robinson (Flo, 88), Taylor, Osborn (Sinton, 81), Muscat; Akinbiyi, Emblen. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Naylor, Corica.

Referee: G Cain (Seaforth).