BY STEVE MITCHELL
KING KENNY STEERS LIVERPOOL CLOSER TO THE TITLE WITH HIS 50TH GOAL FOR THE REDS:
Kenny Dalglish scored his 50th goal for Liverpool as the league leaders saw off Ipswich Town at Anfield this afternoon.
The Scottish wizard has the Indian sign over the East Anglian side, todayâ€™s strike was his sixth in five outings against the FA Cup holders and having reached a half-century of goals for the Merseysiders in just 101 appearances, Dalglish has been one the reasons his side sits five points clear at the top of the table this evening.
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Before the game, manager Bob Paisley was given a gallon bottle of whisky, after being named Bellâ€™s Manager of the Month for February. Donâ€™t rule him out receiving another gallon soon as his side head into the final straight of the campaign.
A swirling wind around Anfield made playing conditions difficult and to give Ipswich their credit, they came determined to play their attractive style of football, despite a disappointing night at the Camp Nou on Wednesday which saw them eliminated from the European Cup Winners Cup by Barcelona.
With Paul Mariner and Clive Woods leading a two-man attack, the visitors pressed early in the game, but Liverpool defender Alan Hansen was once again imperious at the heart of the Reds back-line.
Equally as impressive was Townâ€™s centre-back Terry Butcher, surely an England star of the future. His tenacity kept former Ipswich striker David Johnson quiet in the opening 45 minutes.
As the half went on however, Liverpool started to impose themselves and Butcher did exactly the same for the visitors, when he flattened Dalglish as the Scot was homing in on goal.
Ipswichâ€™s Dutch midfield pairing of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen were involved in their sideâ€™s best chance of the half, but Mariner fluffed his lines with the goal at his mercy.
Bobby Robsonâ€™s side were made to pay for that costly error four minutes from the interval when Dalglish finished off another impressive Liverpool move, knocking in the simplest of chances after good work from Terry McDermott; another contender for player of the season.
The Kop paid tribute to the Scotland international, who has been an absolute revelation since arriving from Celtic in the summer of 1977 to fill the shoes of Kevin Keegan.
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Shortly after the break, Dalglish almost doubled his and his sideâ€™s tally for the afternoon, but his shot was well saved by Town keeper Paul Cooper.
Not long after, his opposite number, Ray Clemence, was called into action, getting down expertly to thwart a good effort from Thijssen as skipper Mick Mills waited for a possible rebound.
Midfield hard-man Jimmy Case was pushed further forward by Paisley in the closing stages, as Liverpool looked for the second goal that would surely seal victory. Ten minutes from time, they got it; thanks to Ipswich old boy Johnson, who flicked the ball over Cooper after Dalglish had controlled yet another cross from McDermott.
Now Liverpool prepare for next weekendâ€™s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Manchester United at Maine Road, while Ipswich head back to Suffolk to reflect on what has been a week to forget.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
Evertonâ€™s fading title hopes are all but extinguished after a goalless draw against Derby County at the Baseball Ground this afternoon. That result leaves West Bromwich Albion as Liverpoolâ€™s biggest threat after Ron Atkinsonâ€™s men bounced back from UEFA Cup heartbreak in the week to beat struggling Queens Park Rangers at The Hawthorns.
Ally Brown and Laurie Cunningham scored the all-important goals for Albion, who stay eight points behind the leaders but with three games in hand. One of those takes place on Monday when Derby County are the visitors to the Black Country.
For the record, Paul McGee got the Rangers consolation as the west London side remain in the bottom three.
Staying in the capital, there was a real basement battle at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea took on FA Cup semi-finalists Wolves. It was the visitors who were smiling after 90 minutes, thanks to goals from John Richards and Bill Rafferty.
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Tommy Langleyâ€™s goal for Chelsea was not enough and Danny Blanchflowerâ€™s men are now seven points from safety, with 11 games left to play.
Bottom side Birmingham City are in even bigger trouble, after a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park this afternoon. The side from the second city are nine points from salvation with 12 games to play. It seems Second Division football will be on the menu at St. Andrews next season.
Don Givens got their goal today, but it proved just a consolation as Micky Burns and Billy Ashcroft gave Boro the victory.
Bolton Wanderers picked up a vital win at Burnden Park against Southampton. Alan Gowling scored both their goals against a Saints side, playing their third game in six days after FA Cup elimination to Arsenal.
The Gunners warmed up for their FA Cup semi-final against Wolves with a 1-1 draw at Highbury against Manchester City.
Boss Terry Neill has injury worries ahead of the Villa Park showdown however, after big defender Willie Young was injured in the first-half and had to leave the field.
A Mick Channon free-kick then put the visitors in front, before Alan Sunderland headed in the simplest of chances from a corner in the second period.
Itâ€™s been a memorable afternoon for young Manchester United striker Andy Ritchie. Deputising for the injured Joe Jordan, Ritchie got a hat-trick in his sideâ€™s 4-1 thumping of Leeds United at Old Trafford.
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Welshman Mickey Thomas rounded off a great afternoon for Dave Sextonâ€™s men ahead of next weekendâ€™s big game against Liverpool. Ray Hankin was on target for the visitors who stay fifth in the table.
Having been paired with Cologne in the semi-finals of the European Cup, Nottingham Forest kept up their impressive recent league form with a 3-0 win over Coventry City at the City Ground. Tony Woodcock, Garry Birtles and David Needham were on target for Brian Cloughâ€™s men.
Aston Villa were surprisingly beaten 3-2 by Spurs at Villa Park. A John Gidman penalty and an Andy Gray strike not enough for the hosts, as a Glenn Hoddle brace and a Chris Jones goal sealed an impressive away win for the North London club.
Finally, Norwich City ran out convincing 3-0 winners against Bristol City at Carrow Road; Jimmy Neighbour, Doug Evans and Kevin Reeves the goalscorers.
SATURDAY MARCH 24:
Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City (Sunderland; Channon)
Aston Villa 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Gidman pen, Gray, Hoddle 2, Jones)
Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Southampton (Gowling 2)
Chelsea 1-2 Wolves (Langley; Richards, Rafferty)
Derby County 0-0 Everton
Liverpool 2-0 Ipswich Town (Dalglish, Johnson)
Manchester United 4-1 Leeds United (Ritchie 3, Thomas; Hankin)
Middlesbrough 2-1 Birmingham City (Burns, Ashcroft; Givens)
Norwich City 3-0 Bristol City (Neighbour, Evans, Reeves)
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Coventry City (Woodcock, Birtles, Needham)
W.B.A 2-1 Q.P.R (Brown A, Cunningham; McGee) (FULL MATCH PROGRAMME BELOW)
League Division One table after close of play on 24 March 1979
|3||West Bromwich Albion||27||17||6||4||55||26||29||40|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||32||5||10||17||31||51||-20||20|
MONDAY MARCH 26:
Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal
W.B.A v Derby County
TUESDAY MARCH 27:
Birmingham City v Norwich City
Middlesbrough v Manchester United
Wolves v Manchester City
WEDNESDAY MARCH 28:
Aston Villa v Coventry City
Nottingham Forest v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
FRIDAY MARCH 30:
Everton v Norwich City
SATURDAY MARCH 31:
FA CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Liverpool v Manchester United (at Maine Road)
Arsenal v Wolves (at Villa Park)
Bristol City v Birmingham City
Ipswich Town v Manchester City
Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur
Nottingham Forest v Bolton Wanderers
Q.P.R v Derby County
Southampton v Leeds United
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets