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Manchester United humbled during trip to Ipswich Town




For Ipswich Town supporters of a certain vintage, the 1994/95 season was – by and large – the stuff of nightmares.

A total of 93 goals conceded and just seven victories, the Blues finished firmly rooted to the foot of the Premier League table and some 21 points from safety.

It was also a term in which that infamous 9-0 defeat was inflicted by a rampant Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Ipswich Town's Portman Road. Picture: Mark Westley
Ipswich Town's Portman Road. Picture: Mark Westley

And yet it was against the aforementioned Red Devils that Ipswich enjoyed perhaps their brightest moment of a gloomy campaign.

John Lyall's men had lost five of their opening six league fixtures – including to bitter rivals Norwich City last time out – when the champions of England rocked up in Suffolk on September 24, 1994. Alex Ferguson's side, in contrast, had just beaten Liverpool and sat third. All logic pointed towards a routine away win, and yet.....

Pre-match, much of the focus was on Ipswich's recent arrival Adrian Paz, who in making his debut became the first ever Uruguayan to play in the Premier League.

However, it was 32-year-old hard-working midfielder Paul Mason who took centre stage during the first half, scoring twice to have the Portman Road faithful dreaming of a memorable victory. His first goal – from a Claus Thomsen cross – squeezed in off the far post, while his second on the stroke of half-time was fired beyond the reach of United's stand-in goalkeeper Gary Walsh after a slip from makeshift left-back Lee Sharpe.

Yet, delirium would make way for nerves after the restart as United – almost certainly with the harsh words of their manager ringing in their ears – fought back.

Eric Cantona halved the deficit in the 70th minute from a Roy Keane cross, and the Irish midfielder was again the architect just three minutes later when setting up a young Paul Scholes to score his first ever goal in the top flight.

But rather than go on to complete the comeback with a third match-clinching goal, United were hit by a sucker punch 10 minutes from time.

Frank Yallop found himself some space out wide on the right, from where he delivered a cross that was met by an advancing Steve Sedgley to turn the ball home via a deflection off Keane.

It secured a first home league win in front of the Ipswich faithful since the February of that year and the hope was that it would act as springboard for better times ahead. Yet, five straight defeats followed and Town's season never really recovered.

Ipswich: Craig Forrest, David Linighan, Steve Palmer, Steve Sedgley, Claus Thomsen, Frank Yallop, John Wark (Simon Milton 88'), Gavin Johnson, Paul Mason, Adrian Paz (Bontcho Guentchev 79'), Geraint Williams

Man United: Gary Walsh, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Andrei Kanchelskis, Brian McClair (Nicky Butt 83'), Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe (Paul Scholes 62'), Eric Cantona

OPINION: Cup win would lift some of the Portman Road gloom