Marcus Stewart gave the world, as well as Ipswich, a reminder of recently latent goalscoring talents with a late winner against Luxembourg's Avenir Beggen in the first leg of their Uefa Cup qualifying round tie here last night.
Stewart has fallen out of favour at Portman Road , and the Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, has admitted he is considering a bid for the 29-year-old. But the forward, who scored 19 Premiership goals for Ipswich two seasons ago, rediscovered his scoring touch tonight to give the Tractor Boys a deserved away win.
Stewart could have made himself an even bigger hero seconds later, but his close-range header was saved by the goalkeeper Kevin Hartert.
The youngster Matthew Richards was handed an Ipswich debut, making him the youngest Town player to start in a European tie at just 17, while Jamie Clapham was named captain for the first time with club captain Matt Holland starting on the bench alongside Jim Magilton and Hermann Hreidarsson.
George Burley's side started strongly and Thomas Gaardsoe had the ball in the Beggen net after a corner in the first minute, but Bulgarian referee Kamen Alexiev disallowed the goal for a push.
Beggen's only real foray forward came after 23 minutes when Claudio Da Luz sent Alain Schmit racing towards goal but his touch let him down and the ball drifted harmlessly over the line for a goal-kick. It was typical of a Schmit's night – he was substituted at half-time.
At the other end, the pressure was relentless. Hartert tipped Mark Venus' powerful header over in the 28th minute. Then Ipswich had claims for a penalty turned down five minutes later, striker Alun Armstrong falling under a challenge from Timo Miedico. Hartet then had to save smartly from Stewart's volley. The break came not a moment too soon for Beggen.
New half, same story, however, as Ipswich continued to dominate. But for all their possession, their first real opening of the second half came only in the 67th minute. Holland, introduced from the bench, chested down for Clapham to shoot over.
It was a long time coming but Town earned their reward at the death when former Huddersfield and Bristol Rovers marksman Stewart volleyed home Magilton's through-ball.
Avenir Beggen: Hartert; Miedico, Picard (Gomes de Almeida, 68), Calvaruso, Hamdaoui (Lopes, 86); Molitor, Schmit (Pace, h-t), Da Luz, Laraccia; Ney, Martin. Substitutes not used: Gilbertz, Lionel Da Silva, Tom Schaack, Kohl.
Ipswich: Marshall; Wilnis, Clapham (Le Pen, 68), Venus, Richards; Wright (Magilton, 46), T Miller, Gaardsoe, Darren Bent; Stewart, Armstrong (Holland, 46). Substitutes not used: Pullen, Hreidarsson, Counago, J Miller.
Referee: K Alexiev (Bulgaria).
* Darren Mackie's 59th-minute header gave Aberdeen a 1-0 home win in the first leg of their Uefa Cup first qualifying round tie against the Moldovan side Nistru Otaci last night. Peter Kjaer was forced to make two early saves to deny Nistru, then Laurent D'Jaffo and Derek Young missed good opportunities to transform the Dons' dominance into goals before the break. But Aberdeen continued where they left off after the interval and Mackie got the breakthrough after a delightful cross from Young.
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