Bent's header leaves Leicester in the doldrums

Ipswich Town 2 Leicester City 0
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The Independent Football

Urgings of the public address announcer notwithstanding, the celebratory chants after the final whistle at Portman Road were muted. They know their football in East Anglia and for all that Ipswich Town had just registered their second win in three days to lift themselves off the bottom of the Premiership, both players and supporters were fully aware they will have to play an awful lot better than this to have any chance of avoiding relegation.

There was a lot more noise in the away dressing room where, having seen his players gift Ipswich two goals then more or less give up, the Leicester manager Dave Bassett was laying into them in no uncertain terms.

"Ipswich were there for the taking and our players have got to look at themselves and understand they are playing for their future, as well as that of the club. It's too easy for them. They get bloody good money and they've got to earn it," said Bassett, his face tight with anger.

He said he had told the players as much to their faces. "If they're mentally weak they won't be able to take it and they won't play for me and there'll be a players' strike." The old ham in the man then prompted him to pause before adding; "I hope," but he meant every word.

The next Leicester training session should be fun.

Out on the pitch the first half was truly desperate. The only talking point was whether the referee Neale Barry should have given a penalty after the ball hit Jordan Stewart's hand as he tackled Martijn Reuser.

Shortly after the break the Leicester striker Jamie Scowcroft missed an absolute sitter, a free header in the centre of the goal from seven yards. Two minutes later the full-back Lee Marshall dawdled idiotically in his own half and was robbed by Reuser, whose cross was headed in by Marcus Bent for his first goal for Ipswich. Soon afterwards Stefan Oakes lost Sixto Peralta's run from midfield, and the Argentinian finished from an angle after being picked out by Reuser.

Thereafter Ipswich started to knock the ball about quite nicely, though without looking likely to add to their brace. "All to play for now," said their manager George Burley, and with top scorer Marcus Stewart expected to return against Charlton on New Year's Day, his side have at least cause for hope.

Unlike Leicester, it seems. Asked what would need to happen to avoid relegation now, Bassett replied, wearily now; "The season to be abandoned."

"Look, Scowcroft should have scored, Marshall made an elementary error an amateur wouldn't make, Oakes loses his runner and we didn't have the conviction or moral fibre to come back."

Ipswich Town (4-4-2); Sereni 6; Hreidarsson 6, Bramble 4, Venus 6, Makin 5; Reuser 6, Holland 7, Peralta 6 (Magilton 84), George 6 (Wright 62, 6); Bent 6, Armstong 5 (Naylor 75, 5). Substitutes not used: Branagan (gk), Clapham.

Leicester City (4-4-2); Walker 5; Marshall 3 (Impey 66, 5), Elliott 4, Sinclair 4, Stewart 4 (Davidson 66, 5); Oakes 5, Izzet 6, Savage 4, Rogers 4 (Akinbiyi 58, 5); Deane 3, Scowcroft 5. Substitutes not used: Flowers (gk), Wise.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe) 5.

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