VILLA ON THE FAST TRACK

Ipswich Town 1 Mason 84 Aston Villa 3 Draper 10, Yorke 19, Taylor 55 Attendance: 20,748
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The Independent Online
ASTON VILLA's record of seven FA Cup wins is bettered only by Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Yet their last one was in 1957, their last semi-final appearance in 1960. It is surely time they revived their Cup tradition, and the nonchalant way they disposed of Ipswich Town yesterday suggested that this might be the season they do.

In the brief build-up to only the fourth ever FA Cup meeting between these sides, George Burley, the Ipswich manager, had been making suitably reverential noises about their Premiership opponents. Humility has always been a characteristic of the club and has never done it any harm. - in their late-Seventies heyday, much of Ipswich's strength seemed to derive from the fact that nobody took them seriously enough.

Having beaten Blackburn in the third round and Walsall in last Wednesday's delayed fourth round, Ipswich had no reason to play down their chances. The First Division's leading scorers, they are among a bunch of sides one good run away from the promotion race and are playing the sort of adventurous game that lends itself to the Cup.

But after their fourth-round win at Sheffield United, Villa knew all about the hazards of fixtures like this, and their accomplished performance in drawing 2-2 at Arsenal in the first leg of the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final last week argued strongly in their favour.

Priority number one in Villa's situation is usually to ride the inevitable early underdog stormand then worry about scoring goals. And when Paul Mason, whose two goals had seen off both Ipswich's previous Cup opponents, started opening Villa up down the left, it looked as if that would be the pattern.

Not so. Ipswich were just beginning to build up a head of steam when, after nine minutes, Villa went ahead with a goal out of nothing by Mark Draper. Collecting a return pass from Alan Wright, Draper scuttled across the sandy pitch and let fly with his right foot from 30 yards. The shot was a beauty, swerving away from Richard Wright in the Ipswich goal and beating him just inside his left-hand post.

Ten minutes later it was 2-0 - a bad goal from a defence's point of view in that it came from a Draper corner which should have been cleared. Dwight Yorke hardly had to leave the ground to send in a header which Mick Stockwell, standing on the goal-line, half-stopped before the ball trickled over the line. It was Yorke's seventh goal in four games and left the tie looking stone-dead.

With Tommy Johnson having come off injured, Villa had some reorganising to do, and Ipswich, their spirit undimmed, went close before half-time through Simon Milton, James Scowcroft and Ian Marshall. But Mark Bosnich was catching everything and in the 39th minute Savo Milosevic could have wrapped it all up, but Richard Wright just managed to deflect his prod.

Meaningful business was concluded in the 55th minute when the substitute Ian Taylor glanced a header past Wright from Steve Staunton's cross, though. With six minutes left Mason made it three goals in successive ties, from a near-post flick.

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