Five-star Ipswich stay hopeful

Ipswich Town 5 - Crewe Alexandra 1
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The race to get into the Premiership is almost as messy as the battle to avoid dropping out of it. Ipswich left Portman Road to a deserved standing ovation after a lap of honour, but still go to Brighton next Sunday knowing even another big victory could mean they miss out on automatic promotion to the Premiership if second-placed Wigan win at home to Reading. Wigan have a better goal difference of 13.

The race to get into the Premiership is almost as messy as the battle to avoid dropping out of it. Ipswich left Portman Road to a deserved standing ovation after a lap of honour, but still go to Brighton next Sunday knowing even another big victory could mean they miss out on automatic promotion to the Premiership if second-placed Wigan win at home to Reading. Wigan have a better goal difference of 13.

"I still make Wigan a shade of odds-on because they are at home, have a good solid side," said the Ipswich manager, Joe Royle. "But this sets it up nicely and it's going to be a last-day event, just as I predicted. I'd have taken this position at the start of the season, and now we'll get up by whatever means we have to."

Woeful Crewe finally replace Brighton in the Championship relegation zone so will be cheering on Ipswich next week while they themselves host Coventry. Crewe have to win and hope Brighton and Gillingham slip up.

This game was all over inside 12 minutes as Ipswich cruised into a two-goal lead. Crewe's young side, without a win since they sold their leading goalscorer Dean Ashton to Norwich 20 games ago, appeared way out of their depth, a feeling echoed by their manager, Dario Gradi.

He said: "I knew this might happen when we sold Ashton. Now we've got to win next week and even that might not be enough. Maybe we're not good enough for this league, but Ipswich are the best we've faced by a long way."

It was Ipswich's man of the season, the Finnish striker Shefki Kuqi, who opened the scoring when he knocked in an Ian Westlake pass in the sixth minute. A clever flick from Westlake set up the second goal, too, as the captain, Jim Magilton, took control drove through the legs of Billy Jones six minutes later.

It was only a promising Crewe attack that nearly led to Luke Varney pulling a goal back 10 minutes before half-time that reminded Ipswich that there was a job to finish off against a side just as desperate to win as they were.

Any danger of a Crewe comeback was quashed, though, when Tommy Miller scored Ipswich's third six minutes after the restart. The central midfielder took possession just inside the Crewe half and strode unchallenged before finishing with a neat right-foot shot from 20 yards.

Ipswich eased off and made a few substitutions in anticipation of the game, or games, ahead, but still attacked at will with Miller adding their fourth in the 81st minute and the substitute Pablo Couñago netting the goal of the game and Ipswich's fifth with a volley a minute later.

The Benny Hill theme tune played over the PA system in celebration this time, but had tailed off before the Ipswich keeper Kelvin Davis made a hash of David Vaughan's 90th-minute shot which pulled a goal back for Crewe. Then came news of Norwich's late defeat at Southampton. Whether Ipswich go up or not, they're having a laugh.

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