Vaughan loosens Derby's grip

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The Independent Online
Football

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

Ipswich Town 1 Derby County 0

Derby's hold on an automatic promotion place became more tenuous as they were deservedly beaten by an Ipswich side now firmly established in the play-off zone. A goal-line clearance in injury time by Gus Uhlenbeek from Dean Yates's header prevented what would have been a travesty of justice

If Derby's performance against Stoke four days earlier - when they secured their first win in five games - had settled their nerves, all the good work was undone within half-an-hour of hectic activity.

After a cagey opening by both sides, Ipswich opened up the game in the 11th minute with a simple exchange of passes between Alex Mathie and James Scowcroft which freed the latter for a full-pelt run on goal. His pace took him round the hefty challenge of Robby van der Laan, but his shot sped wide.

The visitors, their composure shaken, conceded a penalty within a minute as Mathie and Darren Wassall fell as if in slow motion. Judging by his actions in the aftermath, Mathie was claiming he had been hauled back by the throat. Wassall, however, felt he had been leaned on, as did six of his colleagues. It was some time before the referee could disengage himself to oversee the kick.

In the event, Steve Sedgley danced after the ball and side-footed it jauntily over the bar. Ipswich had wasted their first opportunity but they were not obviously downhearted. Within two minutes, the exuberant but erratic Uhlenbeek picked up a loose ball on the right and drove it narrowly wide.

After 20 minutes, Mathie, a canny little operator, broke clear and rounded the goalkeeper, but found himself at too acute an angle to profit. Ipswich had to wait until the 33rd minute for the goal they deserved, when their central defender Tony Vaughan rose large, obvious and unmarked in the centre of the penalty area to head Sedgley's corner high into the net.

Five minutes from half-time, a similar chance at the other end saw Van der Laan reeling away with his head in his hands after directing a corner against the angle of a post and the bar. But Ipswich regained the initiative before the break, with Scowcroft sending Uhlenbeek's cross narrowly wide of the post with a diving header.

The same combination which created the opening goal nearly brought another after 54 minutes when Sedgley's free-kick was directed no more than a foot wide by Vaughan, who, once again, was unmarked.

Vaughan distinguished himself in his defensive role after 70 minutes when he took the ball off Marco Gabbiadini's toe as the Derby forward cued himself up for a shot. A minute earlier, Vaughan had earned a booking for a clumsy foul on Dean Sturridge. As the match grew more frantic, Sturridge joined Vaughan in the book 12 minutes from time after returning the compliment.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Swailes, Sedgley, Vaughan, Taricco; Uhlenbeek, Mason, Williams, Thomsen; Mathie, Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Slater, Gregory, Forrest (gk).

Derby County (4-4-2): Hoult; Carsley, Yates, Wassall, C Powell; Flynn, Van der Laan, D Powell (Hodges, 68), Sturridge; Gabbiadini, Ward (Willems, h/t). Substitute not used: Simpson.

Referee: G Pooley (Bishop's Stortford).

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