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Birmingham goalie Ian Bennett
"It's the biggest game I've played in"
 real 14k

Ipswich boss George Burley
"We deserved to win"
 real 14k

banner Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 19:27 GMT
Stewart gives Ipswich edge
Marcus Stewart
Stewart scores from the spot
Ipswich Town 1-0 Birmingham City

Ipswich will take a slender lead into the Worthington Cup semi-final second leg after Marcus Stewart's goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Birmingham at Portman Road.

Stewart hit his 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot after 44 minutes in the first-leg encounter, but the tie is perfectly poised ahead of the return at St Andrews in two weeks.

The start of the match was delayed for 10 minutes due to a road accident and both sides were slow to get into their stride.

Stunning save

Birmingham's Peter Ndlovu buzzed around early on, but the first chance of note did not come until the 16th minute when Jamie Scowcroft's shot was gathered at the second attempt by Ian Bennett.

The same players were involved again 11 minutes later when the Birmingham 'keeper foiled the Ipswich attacker from a corner with a stunning one-handed save.

Then on the half-hour mark, Ipswich's increased dominance should have been rewarded but Jermaine Wright shot wide when played through by Jim Magilton.

The Premiership side did take the lead on the stroke of half time through Stewart.

The in-form striker, touted by Town boss George Burley as an England prospect this week, sent Bennett the wrong way from the penalty spot after former Ipswich player Danny Sonner was penalised for handling a Magilton cross.

Bramble and Magilton close in on Ndlovu
Bramble and Magilton close in on Ndlovu
Ipswich continued to look the more menacing after the break and defender Hermann Hreidarsson sent a header crashing off the bar after 50 minutes.

Wright and Fabien Wilnis combined effectively five minutes later with the former's cross falling for Stewart but the striker was taken by surprise and hooked the ball wide.

The home side had appeals for a second penalty rejected on the hour mark. Sonner was again involved, but his challenge on Magilton was deemed legal.

Trevor Francis introduced Marcelo and Stan Lazaridis for Ndlovu and Nicky Eaden as Birmingham sought to get back on terms.

Marcelo's impact was immediate and he headed narrowly over after 76 minutes.

But Birmingham were unable to get an equaliser or Ipswich able to add to their lead in a tense closing period.

Ipswich: Richard Wright, Wilnis, Bramble, Venus, Hreidarsson, Clapham, Jermaine Wright, Holland, Magilton, Scowcroft, Stewart. Subs: Salmon, Johnson, Reuser, Karic, Croft.

Birmingham: Bennett, Jenkins, Purse, Michael Johnson, Grainger, Eaden, Sonner, O'Connor, Hughes, Adebola, Ndlovu. Subs: Poole, Burrows, Lazaridis, Marcelo, Horsfield.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester)

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09 Jan 01 |  Worthington Cup
Clockwatch: Ipswich 1-0 Birmingham
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