Ipswich Town 0-0 Crystal Palace - Half-Time
Saturday, 24th Jul 2021 15:57
Town’s pre-season friendly at home to Premier League Crystal Palace remains 0-0 at half-time.
Joe Pigott and Scott Fraser made their first appearances in Town shirts as fans returned to Portman Road, while four of the other summer signings also started, as did Kane Vincent-Young, but with Lee Evans missing.
Town began the game with new keeper Vaclav Hladky in goal, Vincent-Young at right-back, Matt Penney on the left and Toto Nsiala, who skippers, and Luke Woolfenden the centre-halves.
In midfield, youngster Cameron Humphreys was the surprise inclusion alongside new additions Rekeem Harper, who was also in the centre, Wes Burns on the right and Scott Fraser on the left. James Norwood was just off Pigott up front.
Evans is understood to have picked up a knock in training and was not involved, while Jon Nolan was again absent having suffered a calf problem early in pre-season.
A surprise on the bench was the inclusion of Kayden Jackson, who has been relegated to the U23s throughout pre-season up to now.
Macauley Bonne, Janoi Donacien and Armando Dobra were also among the subs alongside a number of younger players.
New Palace boss Patrick Vieira was in charge for the second time having won 1-0 at Walsall last week.
The Eagles named a strong line-up featuring the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, Cheikhou Kouyate, Nathaniel Clyne, Jeffrey Schlupp and James McArthur.
The Town crowd made themselves heard as the players took to the field, 17 months after the last time Portman Road was graced by support of a significant number.
The Blues started brightly with Pigott showing an early aerial presence and Town winning a couple of early corners.
However, following one of those flag-kicks, in the fourth minute, Palace broke quickly through Zaha, who crossed from the right to Jean-Philippe Mateta completely unmarked but the Frenchman made a real mess of it and somehow sent the ball looping wide, much to the delight of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Two minutes later, Zaha threatened again having been sent away down the middle into the area, but Vincent-Young slid in to take the ball away from the Ivory Coast international as he looked to pull the trigger.
The Premier League side continued to present the greater threat but Mateta again failed to find the target by some distance on eight, then a minute later an Ayew effort looped wide of Hladky’s right post via a deflection.
Town were fortunate not to have conceded at least once with the Eagles having carved their way through their backline with ease. On 14 Zaha cut in from the left unchallenged before shooting high and wide.
On 23 Ayew curled a free-kick over the bar after Humphreys had fouled Zaha just outside the box.
Two minutes later, Zaha twisted and turned his way into the area but Nsiala slid across to clear against the former Manchester United man and out for a goal-kick.
The one-way traffic continued and on 26 Nsiala again did well to prevent Zaha from finding Ayew with a pass inside the area.
From the corner, the Premier League side, who had already had enough chances to have had the game sewn up, managed their first effort on target, skipper James Tomkins heading goalwards and Hladky saving to his right.
Burns struck Town’s first shot of the afternoon just after the half-hour, striking a 25-yard effort after Pigott had chested down to him which Vicente Guaita saved to his right.
Hladky saved from Ayew’s flicked header in the 33rd minute following a corner, then three minutes later at the other end Burns whipped over a cross but Cheikhou Kouyate got ahead of Norwood to clear.
On 42 Hladky had to come off his line quickly to dive at Zaha’s feet. The ball ran loose but Nsiala showed the presence of mind to lay it off to a Woolfenden, who cleared.
In injury time, Fraser played a clever ball in for Burns darting across from the right flank but the move ultimately came to nothing.
The Blues were applauded at the whistle, while Palace will have wondered how they weren’t in front having dominated and having had more than enough chances to not only have grabbed the lead but had the game won.
However, a combination of bad finishing, some determined last-ditch defending from Nsiala in particular and a couple of sharp Hladky saves meant the scores remained level.
At the other end, Burns had forced Guaita into his only save of the game, after good work from Pigott, who had shown enough to suggest he will be a big presence as the lone striker in League One in the season ahead, and the former Fleetwood man had presented Town’s greatest threat breaking down the right.
Town: Hladky, Vincent-Young, Penney, Nsiala (c), Woolfenden, Humphreys, Burns, Harper, Pigott, Norwood, Fraser. Subs: Holy, Donacien, Armin, Ndaba, Clements, Nwabueze, Alexander, Healy, Ward, Dobra, Bonne, Jackson.
Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Kouyate, Tomkins (c), Mitchell, Riedewald, McArthur, Schlupp, Zaha, Mateta, Ayew. Subs: Butland, Ward, Guehi, Kelly, Hannam, Milivojevic, Wells-Morrison, Boateng, Rak-Sakyi, Street, Banks. Referee: Neil Hair (Cambridgeshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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