Football: Wily Wark runs show

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The Independent Online

Ferdinand 90

Ipswich Town 2

Yales og 19, Genchev 49

Attendance: 12,456

HAND on heart - did you really fancy Ipswich to beat Rangers? These were last season's Premiership duffers and among the favourites for the drop this time, and they hadn't scored at Loftus Road for 15 years. Maybe a draw, if they were lucky.

They weren't lucky, they were good and the best of all was John Wark. He is one of the Portman Road coaches these days, but they still haven't managed to dislodge him from the pitch, where he is as difficult to get past as a milk lorry trundling along an East Anglian country lane.

Wark has always read the game so well, and although the legs have long gone it's a gift that has not deserted him. For all Trevor Sinclair's scorching pace and Les Ferdinand's deadly headers there was very little that bothered him, and what did was taken care of by some marvellous goalkeeping by Craig Forrest.

But the most frustrating thing for Rangers must have been the two offside 'goals' that were chalked up by their new talent, Kevin Gallen, who scored his first League goal against Sheffield Wednesday in the week and with his World Cup '66 haircut and two promising feet is already being earmarked as Blackburn's next pounds 5m snip.

Even 20 minutes into the game, though, you would have said that this was three points heading Rangers' way - assorted classic headers from Ferdinand, Sinclair whizzing all over the place and, at the other end, Tony Roberts so untested that he was reduced to mooching around on the edge of his penalty area in an attempt to stay awake.

Then came Steve Yates's own goal, the Rangers' player swivelling to hook Boncho Genchev's cross from the left past Roberts. Even then, it still didn't look like an Ipswich win in the making, though. They then lost the chance to go two up after Roberts had brought Genchev down but Forrest saved the same player's penalty kick. Now, you found yourself thinking, the home side's luck was beginning to turn.

No way, though. Genchev might not be able to take penalties, but his goals are lovely. After the restart, Yates set the No 9 through to put Ipswich two-up with a fine drive. After that, Wark and company soaked up everything until time added on when Ferdinand scrambled the ball into the net at last. Forrest beat his fists on the ground, but what did it matter? The final whistle went straight away.

Winning there must have meant a lot to Ipswich, because afterwards the team stayed on the pitch, dancing a little lap of honour in the sun, long after the stadium was empty.