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IPSWICH KEEP UP THE HIGH FIVES; IPSWICH 5 PORT VALE 1.

IPSWICH produced another five-star show to tighten their grip on a place in the First Division play-offs.

It's the fourth time in eight home games they have rattled in five and one more win will be enough.

David Johnson and Bobby Petta led the charge with two goals each and Alex Mathie got in on the act as Ispwich ran riot.

It all proved too much for relegation haunted Vale, who never looked like ending their record of never winning at Portman Road.

And beaten boss John Rudge has no doubts a rampant Ipswich are heading back to the Premiership.

"They had far too much quality for us and we did not compete hard enough against them. They pulled us all over the place and won at a canter," said Rudge.

But Ipswich boss George Burley is taking nothing for granted, saying: "There's still a bit of work to do, so we are not getting carried away.

"Even so it was another superb performance and we could have finished up with seven or eight.

"We have now lost only one of our last 19 matches and if we keep the momentum going, we will be OK."

Johnson, in the England B squad for Tuesday's game against Russia, began the rout with a power header from Mauricio Taricco's cross in only the fourth minute.

Then in two minutes Dutch ace Petta put Ipswich firmly in control and had the crowd dreaming of promotion.

He left a magnificent first-timer from a Mathie cross in the 27th minute. Then he side footed the ball in from a similar position after a Kieron Dyer mis-kick cannoned off Mattie Carragher.

Mathie rifled the fourth goal ten minutes into the second half.

He was first to react after Paul Musselwhite saved his first effort and rammed home the re-bound.

Three minutes later Johnson completed the rout, turning in a penetrating low cross from Taricco for his 29th goal of the season.

Vale kept plugging away and it was no more than they deserved when Dave Barnett grabbed a consolation for them in the 65th minute.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Steggles, Jack
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 19, 1998
Words:349
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