Ipswich Town 1-1 Cardiff City - Match Report
Saturday, 10th Dec 2016 17:21
Luke Varney netted an equaliser just after half-time as Town drew 1-1 at home to Cardiff City, who had central defender Sol Bamba sent off for abuse towards the fourth official during a bizarre second-half temper tantrum. Aron Gunnarsson put the visitors ahead following a Bartosz Bialkowski error in the 38th minute, Varney levelled on 52 but despite the one-man advantage the Blues were unable to find a winner.
Town boss Mick McCarthy named an unchanged side, while Teddy Bishop and Brett Pitman, for the first time since suffering an ankle injury at the end of September, returned to the bench for Myles Kenlock and Leon Best.
Former England striker Rickie Lambert was back in the Cardiff side after missing last week’s 0-0 draw with Brighton through injury, while Lee Peltier returned at left-back after a one-match ban.
In steady, persistent rain and in a slippery conditions, Cardiff started the game brightly and went within a whisker of going in front in the fourth minute when Icelandic midfielder Gunnarsson crashed a 25-yard volley against the outside of Bartosz Bialkowski’s left post from a headed Luke Varney clearance.
Moments later, Bluebirds keeper Ben Amos failed to deal with a Tom Lawrence cross from the left when he punched the wet ball with little confidence, but rather fortunately it ran out to the right flank rather than falling for a Town player in the box.
Having started slowly the Blues began to get on top with visitors’ keeper Amos having another wobbly moment in the ninth minute.
After Lawrence had made a tricky run into the area on the left, Jonas Knudsen crossed to the far post and skipper Luke Chambers, whose header ought to have been claimed comfortably by Amos.
However, the former Manchester United man somehow allowed it to squirm from his grasp to Lawrence 12 yards out, but the former Cardiff loanee’s first-time effort at goal was blocked by the on-loan Bolton keeper as he chased after the loose ball.
The Blues threatened again two minutes later when Lawrence sent over another ball from the left towards Chambers but Joe Bennett got ahead of the Town captain to nod behind.
On 24 Town keeper Bialkowski was twice forced into action as the impetus moved back towards Cardiff. First Gunnarsson hit a powerful shot into the ground from a tight angle on the right, which the Pole pushed away out to the left.
The loose ball was collected by Junior Hoilett, who whipped over a cross, which Bialkowski bravely punched away before being clattered by Lambert.
Four minutes later Matthew Connolly picked up the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Jonathan Douglas.
Just before the half hour, after Cardiff had counter-attacked quickly following another impressive Lawrence run down the left, Christophe Berra made a fine challenge on Bennett on the edge of the area as he prepared to shoot. The loose ball fell for Gunnarsson, who smashed his latest effort well back into the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Amos had had a difficult first half hour in difficult conditions for keepers but on 33 he confidently claimed David McGoldrick’s well-struck effort from 25 hards down to his left.
Moments later, the Republic of Ireland international, who was starting to become more influential, hit a dipping effort from a similar distance which sent Amos scrambling across his goal before watching it fly past his left post. On 37 Lawrence was booked for a foul on Bennett.
While Cardiff keeper Amos had had the tougher half due to the conditions, it was Town keeper Bialkowski whose error led to the game’s opening goal.
Peter Whittingham sent over a corner from the right, Bialkowski looked to catch but dropped it and Gunnarsson slammed into the roof of the net from close range.
An Adam Webster error saw the Blues put themselves back under pressure almost immediately after the kick-off, the visitors winning another corner from which Bialkowski punched without getting any distance but fortunately without it leading to another Cardiff opportunity.
In injury time, a long spell of Town passing ended with Lawrence playing in McGoldrick but a defender just took the ball away from the Blues’ number 10 as he was about to shoot.
Town were continuing to press - Douglas feeling he had been fouled in the area as a final moments corner was sent across - as referee James Adcock blew his whistle for half-time.
As was the case at Bristol City last week, Town found themselves behind in a game which had had little in it and the scoreline was harsh on the balance of the half.
After the early stages the Blues had had most of the ball, but prior to the goal - Cardiff making the most of Bialkowski’s error whereas Town hadn’t been able to profit from Amos’s earlier slips - the visitors had created the better of the game’s opportunities.
Seven minutes after the restart, Town got back on terms. Following a corner on the right. Lawrence brought the ball into the area on the right, fed Webster to his right and the centre-half - by now wearing a bandage on his head - cut back to Varney, who slammed home off Gunnarsson before celebrating with the Blues bench.
Lawrence had proved a big threat down the left all game against his former loan side and on 54 claimed a penalty when he was left grounded as he sought to take the ball past Bluebirds skipper Sean Morrison. Despite loud appeals from the crowd it looked to have been a shoulder to shoulder challenge.
On 56 Cardiff manager Neil Warnock made a double change with Craig Noone and Anthony Pilkington replacing Joe Bennett and Kadeem Harris.
Lawrence continued to be a thorn in Cardiff’s side and on the hour the on-loan Leicester man cut the ball to Grant Ward, who hit a powerful shot past Amos’s right post.
It was Varney’s turn to appeal for a penalty in the 66th minute when he and Morrison both ended up on the ground as the collided as they chased a ball into the area. Again referee Adcock wasn’t interested, almost certainly correctly.
With 20 minutes remaining Cardiff were reduced to 10 men in bizarre circumstances. After receiving treatment following a challenge by Douglas - which hadn’t led to a freekick, the referee having wave play on - Bluebirds defender Bamba shoved his physio to the ground and marched towards the referee and Douglas, pointing his finger angrily at the Town midfielder.
The former Leeds man eventually made his way towards the touchline before turning his tirade towards fourth official Charles Breakspear, indicating that he had been caught by a high boot. Cardiff boss Warnock tried to haul his player away and as the pair grappled on the touchline referee Adcock pulled out his red card.
The Ivory Coast international was eventually persuaded to make his way along the touchline and down the tunnel.
Before play restarted Town switched Varney and Ward for Pitman and Freddie Sears, then Cardiff swapped Lambert for Bruno Manga, a centre-half to replace the dismissed Bamba.
On 80, with the Blues having been unable to make their additional man count, Bishop took over from Douglas, who made his way off to cheers from some sections of the Town support and applause from others.
Bishop made a driving run towards the edge of the area in the 86th minute and was fouled, but McGoldrick’s freekick curled well over.
The game entered five minutes of injury time with Peltier the latest in a series of Cardiff players to spend time on the ground, in his case following what looked to have been an innocuous clash with Sears.
Whittingham saw a freekick deflect over after Chambers had been cautioned for the foul which led to it, then Hoilett joined him in the book for wasting time ahead of the corner.
In the aftermath of the corner, Whittingham crossed from the right, Morrison headed goalwards and Bialkowski saved. From the subsequent throw-in on the left Berra blocked from Manga with Cardiff putting the Blues under pressure rather than the other way around in the closing stages.
Moments before the final whistle and the now familiar loud boos from the home support, Noone shot only a few feet wide for the visitors.
Having got on terms the Blues were on top and were creating opportunities regularly if not frequently up to the red card.
After the dismissal, as strange a red card as you’ll see, the Blues never built up any momentum and in the end it was Cardiff pressing for a winning goal rather than the Blues.
As has often been the case in recent weeks, the Blues put in a decent enough performance overall but without creating enough at one end, while conceding a goal caused by an individual error at the other.
The result sees Town, who have now won two of their last eight at home, drop to 17th ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Birmingham, who are seventh following a 4-0 defeat at Newcastle, and a visit to second-bottom Wigan next Saturday.
Town: Bialkowski, Chambers (c), Webster, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas (Bishop 79), Ward (Sears 71), Lawrence, McGoldrick, Varney (Pitman 71). Unused: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Williams.
Cardiff: Amos, Peltier, Morrison (c), Bamba, Connolly, Bennett (Pilkington 56), Gunnarsson, Harris (Noone 56), Whittingham, Hoilett, Lambert (Manga 73). Unused: Wilson, Ralls, Richardson, Zohore. Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire). Att:15,042 (Cardiff: 246).
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