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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Ipswich gain crucial win
Darren Bent's strike gives Ipswich a valuable win
Darren Bent scores the only goal of the game
Ipswich 1-0 Middlesbrough

Ipswich kept their slim hopes of Premiership survival alive with a vital victory over Middlesbrough at Portman Road.

England Under-19 striker Darren Bent scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute to break the deadlock in the 58th minute.


We still have a mountain to climb but we will not give up without a fight
Ipswich boss
George Burley

Alun Armstrong could have made it 2-0 but his shot hit the woodwork, while Gareth Southgate went close with a header for Middlesbrough.

It was Ipswich's first win since early February but they might still be relegated.

They are two points behind Sunderland with just two games left to play - and those are against Manchester United and Liverpool.

Ipswich dominated the early stages and Sixto Peralta, the midfielder on loan from Inter Milan, was particularly prevalent.

Steve McClaren's Boro failed to create any good chances during the entire first-half.

Marcus Bent rises above Mark Schwarzer
Marcus Bent challenges Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer
A link-up between Ipswich strikers Marcus Bent and Marcus Stewart created the best chance of the half.

Bent flicked a back-heel into the path of Stewart, who muscled his way past Cooper, before steering a side-footed shot agonisingly wide.

Another chance arrived almost immediately, but Martijn Reuser failed to keep his header down as he stole in ahead of Robbie Stockdale to meet Titus Bramble's ball from the right-hand touchline.

Frustration gathered around Portman Road in the early stages of the second half as Ipswich struggled to open the scoring.

Schwarzer dropped Reuser's deep free-kick only for Stewart to hook wide.

That was Stewart's last action of the contest, however, as he and strike partner Bent made way for Alun Armstrong and Darren Bent.


It was disappointing losing to a scrappy goal.... that annoyed me
Middlesbrough boss
Steve McClaren

George Burley's decision paid instant dividends as, within just 20 seconds of his arrival, teenager Bent made his mark.

Clapham's corner from the right was flicked on by Hermann Hreidarsson and Bent converted with his knee.

Armstrong might have sealed the three points with 20 minutes left as his header, from Reuser's centre, thudded back off a post.

But the Blues support were instead forced to endure a nervy ending with Andy Marshall forced into a full-length tip-over to a Gareth Southgate header.


Ipswich: Marshall, Bramble, McGreal, Venus (Wilnis 83), Hreidarsson, Reuser, Peralta, Holland, Clapham, Marcus Bent (Armstrong 57), Stewart (Darren Bent 57).
Subs Not Used: Salmon, George.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale (Hudson 86), Cooper, Southgate, Queudrue, Downing, Debeve, Ince, Johnston (Marinelli 67), Nemeth, Carbone.
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Gavin, Wilkshire.

Booked: Ince, Johnston.

Att: 25,979

Ref: A D'urso (Essex).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Alistair Bruce-Ball
"A crucial win"
Ipswich boss George Burley
"We've still got a lot to do"
Ipswich's Andy Marshall
"We got a lucky goal"

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