United first met Ipswich, or rather their reserves, at the Abbey in the semi-final of the East Anglian Cup on 10th March 1951. A remarkable match was level at 4-4 after 90 minutes, but extra-time goals from Stan Thurston and Neville Rose saw the U’s through 6-4 to a final which they lost 3-1 away to Great Yarmouth.
United defeated those reserves 5-2 in a friendly six years later, but a stronger Town line-up thrashed the U’s 9-2 in May 1961 in a benefit match for full-back David Deacon which was restricted to 80 minutes, mercifully for the hosts. Ipswich’s reserves returned to the Abbey for another friendly in 1969 which the U’s won 2-1, then their first team visited in 1972 in a testimonial for midfielder John Gregson and duly reversed the scoreline thanks to goals from Rod Belfitt and Jimmy Robertson.
They returned for striker Dave Simmons’ testimonial five years later and won 3-1 with strikes from Roger Osborne, Peter Kitchen and Trevor Whymark after Alan Biley had put the U’s in front.
The pre-seasons of 1978, 1979 and 1980 saw both clubs participate in the Willhire Cup alongside Norwich City and Colchester United. Ipswich won 3-1 at the Abbey in the first tournament, their scorers David Geddis, Clive Woods and Paul Mariner against another one for Biley, while in 1979 they won 2-1 at Portman Road, John Wark putting them ahead from the penalty spot; a Russell Osman own goal levelled the scores, but Terry Butcher won it in the last minute. A year later United finally won, 1-0, a Tom Finney goal defeating a full-strength Tractor Boys side which included Arnold Muhren, Frans Thijssen, Eric Gates, Mick Mills, George Burley and Paul Cooper.
Ipswich did not visit the Abbey again until 1986 for a testimonial benefitting Keith Osgood, who had been forced to retire through injury, but by now United were tumbling down the divisions and they were thrashed 4-0 in front of a meagre crowd of 1,106, goals coming from Mark Brennan (2), Jason Dozzell and Ian Atkins. Two months later Town returned to the Abbey for a third-round Littlewoods Cup tie and the U’s pulled off a major giant-killing act by beating them 1-0 thanks to David Crown’s strike on the verge of half-time; this time the attendance was 8,893.
The following August, Ipswich were back again for another testimonial for a player who had had his career cut short, Steve Dowman, and Dozzell scored the only goal of the game in front of 1,268.
Soon United were on the way back up again under Chris Turner then John Beck, and the clubs’ only season in the same division was 1991-92. In an unforgettable night on 9th November at Portman Road between two promotion chasers, Gary Rowett gave the U’s a first-half lead, Mick Stockwell equalised 11 minutes from time, but Steve Claridge scrambled a winner four minutes later to take United to the top of Division Two for the first time in their history. They were still second when the clubs met again at the Abbey in March, drawing 1-1 with a Simon Milton opener swiftly cancelled out by Mick Heathcote, but at the end of the season it was Ipswich who went up as champions while the U’s lost to Leicester City in the playoff semi-finals. They haven’t done much since, eh…?
The next Cambs-Suffolk reunion came in the Coca-Cola Cup second round of 1993-94, the clubs now two divisions apart, but Ipswich duly won both legs, 2-1 at home and 2-0 away, Ian Marshall and Chris Kiwomya sealing it at the Abbey. Ipswich were invited to contest the Cambs Professional Cup the following season, and despite taking the lead via Milton inside 25 seconds, two goals from Carlo Corazzin and one from Ollie Morah shocked a strong Town side to keep the cup in the county.
The clubs have not met competitively since. Ipswich won a pre-season friendly 2-0 in 1998 with goals from Matt Holland and Mark Venus, then ran out 3-0 victors in Ian Darler’s testimonial in 2005, and since then four friendlies have finished 4-4 (2006), 2-2 (2011), 2-0 to Ipswich (2012) and 3-2 to Ipswich (2015).
Norris 7. One outstanding save, always looked safe.
Taylor 7. Looked totally at home on the right.
Legge 7. Mr Reliable.
Dallison 7. Strong complement to Legge.
Dunk 7. Good job at left-back and also managed a decent number of forward runs too.
Dunne 7. Steady hand on the tiller.
Clark 7. So calm on the ball.
Mingoia 7. Always one to watch.
Maris 8. A bundle of energy.
Berry 7. Assured captain’s performance.
Pigott 8. Led the line well and just cannot stop scoring goals.
Keane 7. Coolly authoritative.
Coulson 7. Decent effort.
Roberts 7. Used his experience.
Adams 7. Settled in well.
Newton 7. Superb assist.
Williams 7. Growing in confidence.
Elito 6. Unlikely to cause Mingoia and Dunk many sleepless nights.
Williamson 6. Worked hard but really needs a goal.
A tough, competitive workout against a useful Ipswich side in sweltering heat took United to the next level in their quest to be ready for the big kickoff in a fortnight’s time. The signs are promising.
Man of the Match
George Maris. The new boy has enjoyed a consistent and impressive pre-season and is knocking loudly on the door of a League start.
Woolmer 6. Little to do, although blew for time distinctly early.
Soundtrack of the Day
Justice “Safe and Sound”
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