Ipswich Town 0-0 MK Dons - Match Report
Saturday, 10th Apr 2021 17:04
Town recorded their third 0-0 draw in four matches as the first game under their new ownership ended in a stalemate with the MK Dons at Portman Road. Sub Freddie Sears went closest for the Blues in the second half when he looped an effort wide with visiting keeper Andrew Fisher out of his goal.
Flynn Downes returned to the Blues' line-up with Armando Dobra and Aaron Drinan also coming into the team as manager Paul Cook switched what appeared to be Plan D as he looked to get Town’s play-off push back on track.
Downes, who had been out of action for almost a month with a hamstring injury, came into central midfield alongside Teddy Bishop with Andre Dozzell in a narrow role to his left and Gwion Edwards on the right. Dobra played off Drinan up front with the duo both making their first starts of Cook’s time as boss.
At the back, Luke Woolfenden moved out to right-back with skipper Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala the centre-halves and Stephen Ward at left-back.
Alan Judge and Troy Parrott dropped to the bench having been in the side which drew 0-0 at Rochdale last week with Tristan Nydam in the matchday 18 for the first time since returning from the serious ankle injury he suffered in July 2019.
James Norwood remained absent having suffered a thigh injury last weekend and Kane Vincent-Young was also not in the 18 following his hamstring injury, while Kayden Jackson was also missing, presumably having picked up a knock.
For the Dons, defender Warren O’Hora, midfielder Louis Thompson and veteran striker Cameron Jerome missed out due to injury with long-serving skipper Dean Lewington, Scott Fraser and Will Grigg, who played for Town boss Cook at Wigan and who has been linked with the Blues, returning to the XI. The Dons included former Blues academy striker Charlie Brown on the bench.
Following a two-minute silence in tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died yesterday aged 99, the first action of the Blues’ new era saw Dobra pick up a yellow card within the first minute for an over the top challenge on Lewington which the Dons backline felt was a more serious offence warranting more serious censure, and they might have had a case.
Three minutes later the Albanian U21 international hit the first shot of the game towards an empty net from midway inside his half but missed the target, Dons keeper Fisher having kicked poorly as Drinan put him under pressure as loudly instructed by manager Cook from the sidelines.
Visiting keeper Fisher was having a shaky start and on 10 he made heavy weather of dealing with a corner from the right but the ball didn’t fall for a Town player and was cleared.
The Blues, with new chairman Mike O'Leary watching from the stand, had started well with the Dons unable to get on the ball, however, they gradually began to get their passing going and threatened for the first time in the 20th minute when Nsiala turned Daniel Harvie’s cross wide. From the corner from the left, Zak Jules shot straight at Tomas Holy having slipped over.
On 22, Ward crossed low from the left and Edwards went to ground as he battled to get to the ball past two defenders but referee Tom Nield wasn’t interested in his appeals for a penalty.
MK continued to see most of the ball but without threatening, while referee Nield’s over-fussy approach was breaking up the game and frustrating the Town team, who had been on the wrong end of most of his more pernickety decisions.
The visitors weren’t too far away from going in front in the 42nd minute when Scott Fraser shot into the side-netting after a Grigg effort had been blocked by Nsiala.
A minute later, MK claimed the ball had struck Chambers’s arm as Fraser tried to find a way through the Town backline but referee Nield was unconvinced.
The Blues went within a whisker of taking the lead in the 44th minute when Downes cut out a loose Dons pass on halfway and sent Edwards away on the right. The Welshman measured a low cross and Dobra slid in but sent the ball just the wrong side of Fisher’s left post.
That was the last action of an often cagey half in which the Blues had started on top before the Dons got their passing going and saw most of the ball.
Both sides had had long spells of possession but were only able to find a way through the opposition’s backline with the two late chances at each end and the period came to a close with neither team having hit a shot on target.
Fraser will be frustrated that he failed to hit the target with his shot, while Dobra will feel similarly regarding his effort. Overall, the scoreline was probably a fair reflection at the break.
Two minutes after the restart, the Blues had Holy to thank for keeping the scores level. After Grigg had been fouled on just outside the area by Nsiala, former Norwich midfielder Andrew Surman curled a low shot which the big Czech keeper did superbly to get across and down to to push past the post.
The Blues saw a lot of the ball in the early stages of the half and won a couple of corners which came to nothing.
Just before the hour mark, Dobra did well to ride a tackle as he broke away following Dons attack and fed Drinan to his left. The Irishman’s effort at goal was deflected behind by Harry Darling and the corner was cleared before being returned down the left by Ward to Dozzell, whose low cross was claimed by Fisher ahead of Drinan.
At the other end, a ball in from the left reached Grigg with his back to goal. The on-loan Sunderland man was unable to get in an effort himself but he played back to Matt O’Riley, who hit a strike which was straight at Holy.
In the 61st minute the Dons swapped Matthew Sorinola for Harvie, while the Blues made a triple change bringing on Nydam for his first senior competitive game in two years to the day, having last featured as a in the 2-0 defeat at Brentford, his only appearance under Paul Lambert, Judge and Sears for Dozzell, Bishop and Dobra.
Moments after the changes, Blues keeper Holy was forced into a double stop from O’Riley. A deep ball from the left had reached the midfielder on the right of the box and Holy first saved his initial shot and then held onto his rebound.
On 70 Parrott replaced Edwards, who had been undergoing treatment on the pitch a few minutes earlier for a knock. Parrott went to the most advanced point of a diamond midfield ahead of Downes with Nydam to his left and Judge to his right.
Within seconds of the change, Downes played a clever ball through into the area for Sears, who cut on to his right foot before hitting a shot which fizzed just past Fisher’s left post. On 71 Grigg and Josh McEachran were replaced by ex-Blues youngster Brown and David Kasumu.
Town should have gone in front in the 78th minute when Woolfenden’s long ball went over Jules and sent Sears away on the right with Fisher well out of his ground. The former West Ham man looped towards goal but sent the ball the wrong side of the post. It was Town’s best chance of the afternoon and one Sears will feel he should have taken.
Downes was booked for a foul on Fraser as the match moved into its final 10 minutes with one mistake or moment of quality appearing enough to win it for either team.
In the 84th minute Judge smashed an otherwise goal-bound shot into what looked to be a Town player from just outside the area after a corner had been cleared.
The Dons then began to put the Blues under pressure with the Town backline making a number of important blocks in and around their area. On 88 Oli Hawkins took over from Drinan.
In four minutes of injury time Ward nodded behind at the far post with O’Riley arriving behind him as Sorinola’s ball came in from the left and soon after referee Nield brought the Blues’ third 0-0 draw in four to an end.
Town had the better of the second half’s few chances with Sears going close with his shot and then having the best opportunity of the game when he looped wide with Fisher out of his ground.
The Blues were more threatening in the second half but have now gone 259 minutes without a goal and worse, 218 minutes, the best of part of three games, without managing a single shot on target.
As at Spotland last week, neither side really showed enough going forward to win it with both defences largely resolute.
Town remain eighth in the League One table, still three points off the play-offs ahead of Tuesday visit to 20th-placed AFC Wimbledon, who won 5-1 at Accrington today.
Town: Holy, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Edwards (Parrott 70), Dozzell (Nydam 62), Bishop (Judge 62), Downes, Ward, Dobra (Sears 62), Drinan (Hawkins 87). Unused: Cornell, McGuinness.
MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington (c), Jules, McEachran (Kasumu 71), Darling, Grigg (Brown 71), Fraser, Laird, Surman, O'Riley, Harvie (Sorinola 61). Unused: Nicholls, Sorensen, Mason, Houghton. Referee: Tom Nield (West Yorkshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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