05-02-2011: Ipswich Town 3 Sheffield United 0 (NPower Championship)
Portman Road, Ipswich, Suffolk
I’ve had a soft spot of sorts for current Sheffield United Micky Adams since he was unceremoniously dumped as manager of Fulham by Mohamed Al-Fayed at the start of the 1997-98 season. Adams had taken over at the Cottage in March 1996 with Fulham 2nd bottom of the old third division. Not only was he able to save them from the drop into non-league football that season but completely transformed their fortunes the following campaign when they were promoted to division two as runners-up.
His reward for all of this was to be replaced that September by Kevin Keegan!
He’s moved around a fair bit since then – gaining promotions with Brighton in 2001 (from third to second as champions) and 2003 with Leicester (from championship to premier league as runners-up) – and is now in charge at Bramall Lane and the club he supported as a boy.
He’s got his work cut out to keep them in the Championship though. No bite up front, woeful in defence and after today’s game four points from safety. They’ll also go into their next few games minus the services of Ron Kozluk and Lee Williamson. The former was given a straight red in the 87th minute for a clattering challenge on Town’s Lee Martin and the latter received a second yellow card for dissent just sixty-seven seconds latter.
Meanwhile new Town boss Paul Jewell can do no wrong guiding Town to their third league win in a row, a feat the previous incumbent failed to achieve in his twenty months in charge. This leaves the Blue’s ten points from the drop zone and – while it is perhaps too early to get over excited about prospects for the remainder of the season – looking upward rather than down.
Highlight of the afternoon was seventeen-year-old Connor Wickham’s 87th minute solo strike that wrapped-up a thoroughly deserved three-nil win. A goal that former Town and England defender Kevin Beattie describes as “The best solo effort I’ve ever seen at Portman Road. And it’s hard to think of a better one I’ve seen anywhere else either.” Wickham picked up a throw from keeper Marton Fulop deep in the Ipswich half and set off on a run up field that saw him slalom past five United defenders before calmly slotting the ball past Blades keeper Steve Simonsen.