Ipswich Town 0-0 Northampton Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 16th Feb 2021 21:11
Stand-in skipper Flynn Downes was red-carded in injury time as dismal Town drew 0-0 with Northampton at Portman Road. The visitors had the better chances, coming closest when Peter Kioso hit the post in the first half.
Josh Harrop was handed his full debut as Blues boss Paul Lambert made five changes from the team which lost 2-1 at Peterborough a week ago.
Luke Matheson and Myles Kenlock returned as the full-backs with Stephen Ward and Luke Chambers dropping to the bench. Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness continued at centre-half with Tomas Holy in goal.
Flynn Downes skippered from the deeper midfield role with Andre Dozzell and debutant Harrop, one of five loan players in the starting XI, ahead of him with Teddy Bishop and Alan Judge subs having started at London Road.
Troy Parrott was the lone central striker with Freddie Sears on the left and Luke Thomas on the right. James Norwood was on the bench.
Northampton made two changes from the team which lost 2-0 at home to Burton Albion on Saturday with Jack Sowerby and Fraser Horsfall replacing Ryan Watson and Cian Bolger.
The Cobblers made the brighter start with Sam Hoskins hitting a second minute shot straight at Holy from the left of the box.
Northampton, without a goal in their last five games and having scored only one in their last eight, continued to see most of the ball with the Blues struggling to get going.
On 11 a stray Parrott pass was picked up on halfway by Mark Marshall, who played the ball a long way ahead of him as he looked to beat McGuinness in a foot race but Holy was out quickly to clear.
In the 17th minute Sowerby was sent away down the left by Danny Rose and brought the ball into the area before hitting a weak shot which Holy grabbed at the second attempt.
As the game passed the 20-minute mark the Blues finally started to show signs of getting going, Dozzell trying a clever ball into the path of Parrott’s run which was cut out by a Northampton toe on the edge of the box.
In the 26th minute Parrott was caught with a high boot 30 yards out and wasted the free-kick, hitting a shot a long way wide with little power with a cross a better option.
Two minutes later, Bryn Morris got first view of referee Darren Drysdale’s yellow card for a late tackle on Thomas midway inside the visitors’ half towards the right. Harrop curled over a cross and the ball eventually fell to Sears, who looped an effort over the bar.
The Cobblers weren’t too far away from ending their long search for a goal in the 34th minute when Marshall crossed from the right and Sowerby played back to Hoskins breaking into the box but his low strike was blocked by Matheson. The ball was looped back in but McGuinness was fouled.
A minute later following a Northampton corner which Holy had punched clear under pressure, Marshall struck a low 20-yard shot which was also blocked. Town were again leaving their front three across the halfway line from opposition corners with Harrop also outside the area.
The Cobblers, with caretaker-manager Jon Brady periodically shouting instructions loudly from the press box, went even closer in the 42nd minute when Marshall fed Kioso on the right of the box from where the overlapping full-back struck a powerful effort at Holy’s near post which the keeper palmed on to the post and across the face of goal to relative safety.
Two minutes later, Marshall, whose pace had caused Town problems all half, was found breaking away on the Northampton right following a Town corner but chose to shoot when a cross was the better option and dragged well wide.
As the game moved into a single minute of additional time, Woolfenden was booked for a foul on Rose.
The visitors will have left the field feeling that they should have ended their goal drought and claimed the lead having had all the half’s chances, two of which might well have been put away, Kioso’s late shot which hit the woodwork and Hoskins’s effort which was blocked by Matheson.
Town had shown little all half aside from winning a handful of free-kicks in dangerous areas but which came to very little, as has so often been the case of late, and once again went a full 45 minutes without registering a shot on target.
There's little doubt that had fans been present that the Blues would have been booed off as they made their way off.
Three minutes after the restart, Shaun McWilliams picked up a yellow card for time-wasting having previously been spoken to by the referee in the first half.
In the 51st minute a Dozzell corner from the right was sent looping over the bar by Kenlock.
A minute later, Northampton threatened again when Morris played in Sowerby on the left of the area but the former Fleetwood man was unable to pick out a team-mate despite the visitors having a number of players in and around the area.
On 53 Dozzell hit a shot from the edge of the box which looped off a defender and out for a corner.
Three minutes later, Town made their first change, Jack Lankester taking over from Thomas, who had undergone treatment for a knock following another underwhelming display. In the 59th minute Judge and Bishop replaced Sears and Harrop.
In the 65th minute Cobblers skipper Mills was booked for a foul on Parrott, then within a minute Judge was felled by Sowerby a couple of yards outside the box. Judge took the free-kick and smashed it into the wall and did the same with the rebound, referee Drysdale waving away an unlikely penalty claim.
On 70 Northampton swapped Rose and Marshall for Benny Ashley-Seal and Ryan Watson, then the Blues switched Dozzell for Norwood as they moved to two up front.
The game looked to be drifting to a 0-0 draw with neither team looking threatening, however on 76 Watson hit a low shot from distance which failed to trouble Holy.
Three minutes later, Judge played in Norwood on the left of the box and the former Tranmere man forced Cobblers keeper Jonathan Mitchell into his first save of the game with his feet.
Judge’s introduction was finally seeing the Blues show some attacking initiative and in the 84th minute the Irishman played a pass into the path of Matheson making a rare break forward down the right but the on-loan Wolves man’s cross-shot flew well over.
On 87 Norwood crossed from the left and Lankester headed wide, before Northampton replaced Sowerby with Ryan Edmondson.
In the final scheduled minute, Judge was booked for what referee Drysdale deemed a dive inside the area. The Irish international had been looking to take the ball past Kioso and may well have had a case for a spot-kick.
Drysdale initially simply waved away the protest before somewhat aggressively booking the Blues’ sub, bizarrely pushing his head towards the midfielder's face.
The evening got even worse for Town in injury time when Downes was sent off after being shown two yellow cards in swift succession in the centre circle. The first for a foul and the second for something he said.
The frustrated stand-in captain, who will now miss two games, made his way disconsolately towards the touchline and then the tunnel, summing up the overall mood around the club at the present time. Soon after, referee Drysdale brought the game to an end.
There have been plenty of disappointing and under par performances from the Blues this season, but this was probably the worst.
Disjointed, stilted, lacking energy, confidence and invention, they failed to land a glove on the lowly Cobblers, who are now without a goal in six matches having won one in 13, until the latter stages when subs Judge and Norwood made an impact.
Until recently the season was following a familiar pattern, the Blues would beat teams in the bottom half but lose to those in the upper echelons.
Now they’re failing to defeat teams in the lower reaches with Swindon having left Portman Road with a 3-2 win last month and now Northampton with a point, which was the least they deserved.
The Blues have needed an improvement to get themselves back into the play-off hunt but if anything they’re getting worse. Had Town not racked up points in the early stages of the season, then on this form a relegation fight would be a concern.
How much longer owner Marcus Evans will wait before making the long overdue decision to make a change of manager remains to be seen.
Despite the disappointing draw, Town move up a place to 11th and a point nearer to the play-offs, four, with a tough home game against Oxford on Saturday, a match which will almost certainly end in defeat if they play anything like they did this evening.
Ipswich: Holy, Matheson, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Kenlock, Dozzell, Downes (c), Harrop (Bishop 59), Thomas (Lankester 56), Sears (Judge 59), Parrott (Norwood 71). Unused: Cornell, Chambers, Ward.
Northampton: Mitchell, Kioso, Horsfall, Jones, Mills (c), McWilliams, Sowerby (Edmondson 87), Morris, Hoskins, Marshall (Ashley-Seal 70), Rose (Watson 70). Unused: Arnold, Bolger, Harriman, Chukwuemeka. Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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