Scowcroft secures Ipswich's play-off place

Football: Portsmouth 0 Ipswich Town 1
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The Independent Online
They had a sweet victory last week in the East Anglian derby and last night Ipswich made it another fantastic Friday with the win that assures them of a play-off place. For Portsmouth, spirited but deserved losers, however, it is the end of their promotion road.

The mood in both camps had changed considerably since the October meeting between the sides. Then the Portsmouth fans had campaigned for Terry Fenwick's removal while a disappointing draw meant that the Suffolk grumbles were starting about Burley for the first time. Now all is sweetness and light as they end the season with matching, attractive football. And, despite the importance to each side, it made for a good contest in which chances were plentiful at either end.

The first came Ipswich's way when Neil Gregory got behind the defence, but Alan Knight came out on top with an excellent save from the initial attempt and again from the follow-up.

Knight was to repeat the feat later in the half, this time from Paul Mason, and in between Pompey had created two decent openings of their own. Lee Bradbury's confidence was almost off the scale after his hat- trick here on Tuesday against Barnsley and a strong run produced a dangerous cross that Paul Hall let slide under his foot. Then, when Richard Wright dropped a hanging centre, Chris Swailes was there on the line to block Alan McLoughlin's drive.

As it turned out Knight's second intervention only delayed the problem for Portsmouth and, from Mason's inswinging corner, James Scowcroft climbed to head his 10th goal of the season in the 36th minute.

Ipswich defended with great resolution and for all Pompey's pressure they comfortably held their lead. Scowcroft came close at the other end but Gregory was closer with a 65th-minute shot that came back off the post.

Portsmouth (5-2-1-2): Knight; Igoe, Thomson (Waterman, 65), Whitbread, Awford, Simpson; McLoughlin, Hillier; Hall; Bradbury, Burton (Durnin, 81). Substitute not used: Allen.

Ipswich Town (5-3-2): Wright; Uhlenbeek, Swailes, Sedgley, Vaughan, Taricco; Stockwell (Dyer, 70), Williams, Mason (Milton, 84); Scowcroft, Gregory (Gudmundsson, 90).

Referee: A Wiley (Staffs).

n Portsmouth chairman Terry Venables yesterday revealed plans to turn Fratton Park into a 20,000 all-seater stadium. Pompey's new owner said the club are seeking planning permission for a pounds 2.5m redevelopment of their existing home.

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