Taricco taunts tepid Norwich

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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town 2 Norwich City 0

Norwich, for whom last night's derby was a matter of win or bust, saw their season effectively ended as they were swept aside by an Ipswich team who now seem destined for the play-offs. The only points to come the way of the increasingly demoralised visitors were off the disciplinary variety - all but three of their players were booked.

The Norwich manager, Mike Walker, was succinct in his assessment of his side's performance. "In a word - crap," he said, before acknowledging that all chance of the play-offs had gone. His counterpart, George Burley, felt Ipwich required six more points for security. Tuesday night's home game against Manchester City will be crucial.

Norwich's 3-1 win in the equivalent fixture last October established them as early promotion contenders, but since then East Anglian fortunes have tipped. Thus it was that Ipswich entered this match in the last of the four play-off positions three places and two points ahead of their neighbours, with a game in hand. Seven wins in their previous eight home league games entitled them to start with confidence. They did so, emerging as the dominant force after 45 minutes of hectic and occasionally vindictive activity.

Ipswich's centre-half, Tony Vaughan, required a head bandage in only the fifth minute after a clash with Norwich's winger Keith O'Neill. When Geraint Williams became the first man to be booked after 12 minutes, it seemed more than coincidence that his foul was on O'Neill.

The home side gathered momentum and after 32 minutes, they broke through when a carefully constructed move put Steve Sedgley in possession. His nudge forward into the box allowed the Ipswich full-back Mauricio Taricco - who had received the Player of the Year award before the match - to unleash a ground-shaking roar of approbation by sweeping the ball wide of Andy Marshall's left hand.

Within 10 minutes, Ipswich had consolidated their lead when Norwich failed to clear a free-kick. As the ball bobbled on the edge of the box it fell - fortuitously for the home side - to the Ipswich top scorer, Paul Mason, who took his season's total to 15 goals with a controlled volley which went in off the post.

Norwich began the second half a little more brightly and after 50 minutes Richard Wright did well to turn away a long-range shot from Ian Crook, whose every action was booed by the Ipswich fans, who have neither forgotten nor forgiven his decision to pull out of a move to Portman Road last year.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Uhlenbeek, Swailes, Vaughan, Taricco; Stockwell, Williams, Sedgley, Mason (Dyer, 88); Gregory, Gudmundsson. Substitutes not used: Sonner, Petta.

Norwich City (4-3-3): Marshall; Bradshaw (Polston, 32), Jackson, Newman, Sutch; Adams, Crook, Mills; O'Neill (Simpson, 84), Eadie, Fleck. Substitute not used: Broughton.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

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