Ipswich Town 0-0 Burton Albion - Match Report
Saturday, 10th Feb 2018 17:10
Town’s home game with table-propping Burton Albion ended in a drab 0-0 draw with the visitors having the better of the few chances. In the second half of a match watched by Portman Road’s lowest league crowd for almost 20 years, Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski saved from former Blue Darren Bent when through one-on-one and brilliantly in the final minute from Kyle McFadzean.
Bersant Celina replaced Freddie Sears on the left of the trio behind lone striker Joe Garner in an otherwise unchanged Town side. For Burton, former Blues loanee Stephen Bywater was in goal, while Bent was up front.
The visitors dominated possession in early stages played in heavy rain but in unthreatening areas and without creating a serious chance. On six on-loan West Ham midfielder Martin Samuelsen shot well wide from distance.
In the 12th minute Lloyd Dyer, who turned down a contract with Town after a successful trial two years ago, cut in from the left and hit a shot not too far over Bartosz Bialkowski’s cross bar.
On 25 Dyer was shown the game’s first yellow card for pulling back Ward as Town looked to break with the Blues still to get going.
The Brewers, who had lost their previous five games in all competitions, continued to see more of the ball as the game reached the half-hour mark with both keepers still untested. On 32 Hope Akpan shot over for the away team.
As half-time approached with Town still having made little impression, sections of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand began to make their criticisms of manager Mick McCarthy’s style of football clear.
Seconds before boos greeted the half-time whistle, a Celina cross from the left was nodded behind at the far post.
That reaction to a thoroughly dull first half came as little surprise with the Blues having failed to register a shot on or off target. On the rare occasions when Town had been in potentially dangerous positions a pass had always gone astray.
The bottom-of-the-table Brewers had seen most of the ball, albeit while looking similarly unthreatening.
Town needed to be much better after the break if they were to claim a second win in succession following last week’s victory at Sunderland.
The Blues began the second half on the front foot, Ward and Jordan Spence seeing early crosses in from the right cut out, then the former Spurs youngster saw a subsequent ball into the box deflected behind.
From Waghorn’s resultant corner from the right, Callum Connolly flicked on at the near post and the ball reached Celina beyond the far post from where he hit a shot on the turn which was blocked.
But it was the visitors and former Town striker Bent who should have scored in the 57th minute. The 34-year-old was threaded in behind Cameron Carter-Vickers but was unable to beat the advancing Bialkowski, who blocked.
The Blues had faded after their brighter start to the half and as the hour mark approached boos rang around the frustrated Portman Road crowd.
Manager McCarthy was evidently similarly less than impressed with proceedings and made a double substitution, debutant Mustapha Carayol and Stephen Gleeson taking over from Ward and Connolly.
Carayol, who joined on a deadline day free transfer after leaving Nottingham Forest, immediately made an impact, cutting in from the right before being felled just on the edge of the area to the right. The freekick was tapped to Waghorn, whose powerfully hit effort flew across the face with no Town player able to add a touch.
Bent made way in the 71st minute to warm applause from his old fans and Northern Ireland international Liam Boyce took over up front for the Brewers.
Sub Carayol wasn’t too far away from a spectacular debut goal in the 80th minute with a well-struck effort from the right which scraped the side-netting. The effort, Town’s closest of the afternoon, led to sarcastic cheers and a reprise of the earlier chants regarding McCarthy’s football.
Two minutes later, Carter-Vickers headed over from Waghorn’s right-sided corner, then on 85 Celina scuffed a weak effort through to Bywater, again to sarcastic cheers.
Burton almost won it in the final minute when Kyle McFadzean’s near-post header from Samuelsen’s corner on the right seemed destined for the roof of the net until Bialkowski pulled off a brilliant reaction save to turn it over the bar.
Soon after, the final whistle went to loud boos and further chants regarding manager McCarthy from the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Town never looked like getting anything more than a goalless draw from the game, creating few chances - or more accurately half-chances - throughout.
The Blues were marginally better in spells in the second half than they had been in the first but Bywater was still never seriously tested.
Burton were closest to breaking the deadlock with Bialkowski, again the Blues’ man of the match, making a sharp save from Bent and then his stunning late reaction stop from McFadzean.
The crowd of 13,815 - 17 fewer than the season’s previous smallest home Championship crowd for the Reading match - is the lowest Portman Road crowd for a home game in the league since 13,212 attended the Blues' 1-0 victory over Swindon in October 1998.
A dismal draw from what was viewed as a must-win game sees the Blues stay 12th, eight points from the play-offs ahead of next Sunday’s East Anglian derby at Norwich City.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Chambers (c), Skuse, Connolly (Gleeson 60), Ward (Carayol 60), Waghorn, Celina, Garner. Unused: M Crowe, Iorfa, Webster, Hyam, Sears.
Burton: Bywater, Brayford (c), Allen, McFadzean, Bent (Boyce 71), Akins, Dyer (Sordell 80), Naylor, Davenport, Samuelsen, Akpan. Unused: Campbell, McCrory, Buxton, Barker, Sbarra. Referee: David Webb (Lancashire). Att: 13,815 (Burton: 169).
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