Ipswich humbled on Sir Bobby's big day

IPSWICH Town have made their worst start to any season following this alarming Coca-Cola Championship thrashing by Newcastle United at Portman Road, yesterday.

IPSWICH Town have made their worst start to any season following this alarming Coca-Cola Championship thrashing by Newcastle United at Portman Road, yesterday.

It is now officially worse than the 1963/64 campaign with just four points from an opening nine matches, and a great pity that it happened on a day when former manager Sir Bobby Robson was being remembered.

A mixture of superb finishing and slack defending saw Kevin Nolan (twice) and Ryan Taylor score three times for the Magpies inside five minutes from the half-hour mark.

Nolan completed his hat-trick with a simple header in the 50th minute with the visitors then happy to run down the clock.

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While Newcastle showed their class it was a worrying 90 minutes for Ipswich proving how far they are behind one of the better sides in the division much With Sheffield United to visit on Tuesday the Blues could well be bottom of the table by the time they visit Barnsley next Saturday - if not after Plymouth's game tomorrow.

At the interval Lady Robson and two of her three sons, Mark and Paul, officially re-named the north stand in memory of her late husband Sir Bobby who died on July 31 aged 76 after a courageous fight against cancer.

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It added much to an early evening occasion with the visitors taking up their full quota of 1,800 seats and the rest of the ground looking virtually full.

There was a pre-match parade of former Town players and chants of 'Only one Bobby Robson' from the stands as the atmosphere built to a crescendo as kick-off approached. A poignant minute's applause was enthusiastically observed with Lady Robson sitting beside Town chief executive Simon Clegg at the front of the directors' box.

Ipswich made four changes from the side that drew 3-3 at Doncaster last Saturday with defender Smith, midfielders Quinn and Martin and striker Counago dropping out.

In came Balkestein after an absence of three games, Colback, Trotter and Priskin. The quartet left out were all on the bench as manager Keane kept to his same 18-strong squad with McAuley now free from suspension but unfit after taking a knock on his knee and calf in the Nottingham Forest game when he received his red card.

Simpson, who played on loan at Town 18 months ago, was unfit for the Magpies who had Butt in midfield and a former team mate of Town boss Keane at Manchester United.

Wright was called into early action saving smartly from Ranger when the visiting striker had too much strength for two Town defenders and shot unchallenged from 16-yards.

Priskin was up front on his own with Edwards and Walters right and left of midfield and Trotter playing just in front of the back four.

Wright came to the edge of his area and failed to win the ball in the 15th minute with Carroll gaining possession and rolling his angled shot into the side netting.

Town were having more of the play looking a much better unit than earlier in the season, but the Magpies looked potent when broke with Ranger never wasting a ball.

And the visitors took the lead in the 30th minute after Walters was unfortunate to concede a free-kick by the Newcastle right touch line. R Taylor floated over the kick to the near post where Nolan climbed in front of Delaney to head high into the net from eight yards beyond the despairing left hand of Wright.

It got worse for Ipswich two minutes later when Nolan chased a ball played forward from the half-way line. He found space in the penalty area to pull the ball back and leave Balkestein on the deck. Wright then made a rash dash out of goal leaving Nolan with a simple chance to slip the ball in to the vacant net.

The agony continued for Ipswich in the 34th minute when Newcastle scored a third goal. R Taylor presided over a free-kick a few yards in from the left touchline. He curled a perfectly placed curler over the hands of Wright and into the top far corner of the net.

This was Premier League finishing aided and abetted by some slack defending, and the match was over as a contest. Bruce was booked for a foul on Carroll, and soon afterwards showed a limp as he went off to be replaced by Smith with Walters taking over the captain's armband.

It was almost four to the visitors in the 42nd minute when Ranger sent in a diving header following a cross from the right, and Wright had to dive full length to his left to push the ball away.

The game was shown live on BBC2 with a 5.30pm kick-off with Newcastle needing these three points to go to the top of the table. Ipswich needed a win to climb out of the bottom three, but were set to sit only above Plymouth who play tomorrow.

It had been a delightful day weather-wise, but from the 30 minute mark nothing else had gone right for Town and their fans.

Walters was up front at the start of the second half with Town winning their first corner in the 46th minute. Four minutes later it was four with an all-too-simple goal by Nolan to complete his hat-trick. R Taylor too advantage of an error by Delaney to run down the right - going on the outside of the linesman as he went - before passing back for a deep cross to the far post. An unmarked Ranger nodded the ball back across goal and Nolan nipped between Wright and Balkestein to head over the line.

With the game settled, Newcastle were happy to sit back with Ipswich now seeing plenty of the ball although still to test Harper. Balkestein received a huge cheer when he drove an ambitious 25-yard shot a yard wide in the 76th minute.

Substitute Harewood stung Wright's hands with a 20-yard rocket shot in the 85th minute with Town still to have a shot on target.

Balkestein had a half-blocked close range effort that caused Harper to fall on the ball on his line - his first moment of concern.


Ipswich Town: R Wright; Rosenior, Bruce (sub Smith 38 mins), Balkestein, Delaney (Peters 59); Edwards, Leadbitter, Colback, Trotter, Walters; Priskin (Counago 60). Substitutes: Lee-Barrett, Martin, Stead, Quinn.

Newcastle United: Harper, Khizanishvili, S Taylor, Coloccini (Lovenkrands 67), Enrique; R Taylor (Donaldson 77), Smith, Butt; Nolan; Carroll, Ranger (Harewood 64). Substitutes: Krul, Ngo Naheng, Tozer, Vuckic.

Referee: Mr M Jones (Cheshire)

Attendance: 27,059


STALWARTS from Sir Bobby Robson's era when the club won the 1978 FA Cup and 1981 UEFA Cup- were back at Portman Road with a special reception after the match in memory of the ex-Blues manager.

Mick Mills led the parade on the pitch prior to kick-off followed by George Ainsley, Kevin Beattie, George Burley, Ian Collard, Eric Gates, Irvin Gernon, Bryan Hamilton, Geoff Hammond, Colin Harper, Allan Hunter, Peter Morris, Kevin O'Callaghan, Roger Osborne, John Peddelty, Gary Russo, Laurie Sivell, Kevin Steggles, Micky Stockwell, Frans Thijssen, Les Tibbott, Colin Viljeon, John Wark, Trevor Whymark and Clive Woods plus physios Brian Simpson and John Chandler.

The FA Cup and the EUFA Cup were carried on to the field at the interval by Mills and Thijsson with Town's old stalwarts grouped around the centre circle while a stirring rendition of 'My Way' was sung. Into the air went 709 blue and white balloons to signify the number of matches Sir Bobby had in charge of the Blues.

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