Lomas makes most of decision to stay

Manchester City 1 Ipswich Town 0
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Old habits die hard and Manchester City last night showed they had learned little or nothing from the trauma of losing their Premiership status. What should have been a routine victory became a cliffhanger.

Steve Lomas earned the admiration of those who suffered the privations which sent Manchester City sliding into the First Division when he rejected the lure of Wimbledon's lucre and elected to stay at Maine Road.

Last night the faithful had even more reason to love Lomas, who will clearly play a major role in the club's determination to bounce back to the Premiership at the first attempt.

The midfielder was perfectly placed to score the English season's first goal - a crisp header from a yard out after 25 minutes.

The demands of television meant that City and Ipswich, who missed a play- off place by a whisper, were designated to play the overture before today's main act.

And the instruments were not too badly tuned - although Ipswich lacked a starring role conductor. City had one, though. They are pinning their hopes, among others, on the Georgian international Georgi Kinkladze. Once again he showed that a step down has done nothing to curtail his skill or appetite.

It was Kinkladze, with one of his typically skilful dribbles, who turned the Ipswich defence before sending over the centre from which Lomas scored.

He and Uwe Rosler, who has buried his differences with the manager Alan Ball will be the spearhead with which City hope to claw their way back to the top flight. Rosler was dangerous.

But then so were Ipswich once they had overcome an initial hesitancy. In fact they could have been in pole position before Lomas scored.

Two minutes before Steve Sedgley, a hard and industrious worker, set up Mauricio Taricco with a clear shot at goal from just 10 yards out.

While Eike Immel bounced up and down on his line trying to gauge the direction of the shot the Ipswich player missed the target altogether and earned stares of disbelief from his colleagues.

Sadly for City they failed to show the killer instinct. The man culprit was their striker Mikhail Kavelashvili who passed up a wonderful opportunity to make the game safe midway through the second half.

Things got worse when City had Michael Frontzeck was sent after 65 minutes. He was red-carded for a professional foul, bringing down Mason when the Ipswich player seemed set for a frontal assault on Immel's goal. The best Ipswich chance came from Bobby Petta's cross which Taricco poked wide with the help of a City deflection.

Manchester City (3-5-2): Immel; Brightwell, Symons, Frontzeck; Summerbee; Kinkladze, Lomas, Brown, Phillips (Hiley, 66); Kavelashvili (Creaney, 85), Rosler. Substitute not used: Margetson.

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): Wright; Stockwell (Tanner, 84), Thomsen, Vaughan (Mathie, 66); Mason, Sedgley, Williams, Taricco, Petta; Tanner, Uhlenbeek. Substitute not used: Forrest (gk)

Referee: T Heilbron (Newton Aycliffe).