Football: Slater opens his Ipswich account

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The Independent Online
GOALS have been scarce for Ipswich and Sheffield United this season but two of the Premiership's least menacing attacks produced a five-goal classic at Portman Road last night, writes Henry Winter.

Two goals clear after eight wintry minutes, from David Linighan's powerful header and Ian Marshall's tap-in, Town resisted a formidable rally by Dave Bassett's men before finally prevailing 3-2. Alan Cork, ageing but still a threat, halved the deficit midway through the first half and a Blades comeback appeared possible until Stuart Slater decided to record his first goal since arriving from Celtic. United pressed after the break, but had only a 20-yard strike from the impressive Franz Carr as reward.

Luton, another Town dreaming of the Towers, hammered Portsmouth at Kenilworth Road, winning their First Division match 4-1. Goal highlights came from the pair who knocked out Cardiff City: David Preece contributed a 20-yarder while Scott Oakes beat Alan Knight from 10 yards further out.

Bolton failed to transfer their Cup capers to the League, Aston Villa's conquerors falling 2-0 at Stoke City. Joe Jordan's hosts struck towards the end of each half: firstly the Victoria Ground's terrace idol, Toddy Orlygsson, shot in via the bar before Dave Regis ended any flickering Bolton hopes from close range.

Elsewhere in the Football League's flagship, Steve Vickers's 30-yard free-kick brought Middlesbrough their first away since August at the Baseball Ground - a sizeable shock to Derby's promotion ambitions.

Conditions more suited to Nordic skiing disrupted much of the lower divisions' programme, but Plymouth Argyle strengthened their chances of rising to the First Division with a 2-1 home victory over Blackpool. Kevin Nugent, restored to the Pilgrims' line-up following hamstring trouble, settled the points nine minutes from time by turning in Dwight Marshall's cross.

Port Vale's pursuit of Plymouth, among others, slowed at Cambridge United when Gary Rowett scored in the final minute. Brentford had a miserable evening at Griffin Park, losing Martin Grainger after 25 minutes for a professional foul and then three goals to a hungry Hull City side.