Ipswich Town 1 Crystal Palace 2: Scowcroft gives Taylor plenty to crow about

Referee shrouds debutant's winner in controversy
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The Independent Football

Two returning sons but two conflicting fortunes. Just as Ipswich's Jim Magilton - who vacated the midfield at the end of last season only then to be appointed manager - was set to celebrate his first match with victory, chaos ensued. Two quick Palace goals, the second laced with controversy as to whether it actually crossed the line, ensured it was Peter Taylor who began his regime with a win.

Taylor was a winger for Palace in the 1970s and, more relevantly, is a much more experienced manager than Magilton. Still he could not claim tactical acumen garnered this result - he said his players said more at half-time than he did after a woeful 45 minutes - although Ipswich's inability to close the game down when ahead contributed to their downfall. It was a bitter lesson for Magilton who lamented a "crazy 10 minutes" in which Palace scored twice. It was more like a mad three minutes. "We got lazy," Magilton said, "and it cost us the game." It did not take away too much from the "pride" he felt although the Irishman expressed his concern at Sir Bobby Robson's illness.

His side showed promise and will improve. They certainly appear likely to finish higher than last season's 15th place, which led to Joe Royle's departure. Magilton hailed the debuts of Alex Bruce - the son of the Birmingham manager, Steve - and the left-back Dan Harding who was a makeweight in the deal that led to Ian Westlake's departure to Leeds United.

The expectations on Taylor are even greater. His chairman, Simon Jordan, last week declared - just as he did last August - that he expected automatic promotion. No pressure there, then, although Taylor was comfortable with it. "He says it how it is," he said. "At least you know where you stand. If I was putting a few million into the club I would be saying the same."

Taylor handed debuts to four players bought with the cash generated from Andrew Johnson's sale to Everton although he has struggled to replace the striker. More arrivals are expected with the manager saying that he needs to "improve and strengthen" his squad although he declared his team was certainly "good enough" yesterday.

It wasn't. For the first half Palace were a shambles although Clinton Morrison should have given them an unwarranted lead when, two yards out, he flicked a header on. Instead, the goalkeeper Shane Supple held on.

It provoked an immediate response. Richard Naylor, twice, came close with headers from Darren Currie corners before Nicky Forster knocked the ball beyond Mark Hudson, sped into the penalty area and side-footed across Gabor Kiraly and into the net. Instantly the striker almost repeated the feat, but the angle proved too acute. "They [Palace] were desperate for half-time," Magilton said. "We weren't." His concerns were realised. After the break, Jason De Vos and Naylor got in each other's way. The ball fell to Jobi McAnuff who clipped a shot beyond Supple for the equaliser.

Palace quickly won a free-kick. Mark Kennedy curled it in and Hudson easily beat Fabian Wilnis to it. His header also beat Supple but Naylor hooked out from the goal-line. Unfortunately, it fell to James Scowcroft who bundled it forward. Supple pushed the ball out, but the referee, Kevin Wright, deemed it had crossed the line.

It was a brave - and contentious - decision with Ipswich's annoyance compounded as Scowcroft once played for them. They attacked. A snap-shot by Jaime Peters was deflected narrowly wide and then, on two occasions, Wilnis was wasteful. "We were unlucky," Magilton lamented. He was right.