Wednesday deliver at last

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The Independent Online
BY STEPHEN BRENKLEY

Sheffield Wednesday 4

Ipswich Town 1

Avoiding relegation now demands the sort of celebrations which used to accompany the odd trophy or two. Sheffield Wednesday cavorted delightedly around Hillsborough yesterday, after securing the victory which assured them of another slice of the Premiership's money.

While the performance had its inspirational moments, this seemed a trifle excessive considering that here were a side assembled to challenge seriously and attractively for honours.

At least Wednesday departed the season more gloriously than they had played for much of it. They attacked with zest and cohesion and the lead they took in the seventh minute was no more than they merited. Peter Atherton's impeccably judged ball fell into Guy Whittingham's stride and he converted faultlessly.

Wednesday could - probably should - have extended their advantage, but this has been their significant failing all season. When Ipswich equalised through Alex Mathie five minutes after the break, the habit of missing chances threatened to cost them dear again. Not, on this occasion, for long. Michael Williams burst through in the 55th minute after a pass from David Hirst had gone astray and pouched his first Premiership goal.

Andy Sinton's delicate cross allowed Whittingham to pick his spot for a header and Mark Bright scored late. Ipswich were as they have been throughout the campaign: an easy, inept touch.

Wednesday would do well to remember as much. Perhaps Trevor Francis, their manager whose valedictory match this was widely presumed to be, had already remembered. He barely appeared on the pitch at all.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Woods; Atherton, Walker, Pearce, Nolan; Waddle, Williams, Sheridan (Hyde, 57), Sinton; Hirst (Bright, 68), Whittingham. Substitute not used: Pressman (gk).

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Stockwell, Linighan (Gregory, 84) Swails, Yallop; Milton, Williams, Thomsen (Tanner, 27), Mason; Mathie, Chapman. Substitute not used: Morgan (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Tilehurst).

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