Ambrose on target as Ipswich Town Under-21s draw with Cardiff

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Darren Ambrose scored as an Ipswich Town Under-21 side containing several first team players were held to a 1-1 home draw with Cardiff City this lunchtime.

In a wind-affected match at Playford Road, first team boss Mick McCarthy watched on as the likes of Paddy Kenny, Cameron Stewart and Ambrose – as well as Arsenal triallist Semi Ajayi – all started.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 21st minute after a good touch by left-back Ben Wyatt allowed Stewart to drive towards the left corner and pull the ball back for the late-arriving Ambrose to finish first time.

In a scrappy game of few chances, Ambrose’s experience showed playing just off of lone striker Darren McQueen, while Teddy Bishop displayed only flashes of his ability in an experimental right-wing role.

Wiry teenage midfielder Kundai Benyu showed just why he is so highly-rated within the academy with some close ball control and change of pace, while the gangly Ajayi – taller than 6ft 3in central defensive partner Matthew Clarke – had a reasonably solid afternoon as he attempted to impress.

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The 21-year-old, who has featured on the Gunners’ first team bench on four occasions, recently had a trial with Sunderland and will be a free agent in the summer. He was out-muscled at times, though his lengthy stride enabled him to get out of trouble, while he always wanted the ball to feet; even if his distribution was varied.

Stewart, a summer signing from Hull who has found his first team chances restricted due to several injury set-backs, caught the eye at times with his pace and dribbling, but he faded in the second period.

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Cardiff – last season’s Development League South Division champions and once again leading the way – created little, but they levelled the match in the 72nd minute when Theo Wharton finished after Kenny had done well to keep out Gethyn Hill’s effort.

Town’s veteran keeper, who recently signed a short-term deal to act as back-up to Bartosz Bialkowski, also made a smart stop with his legs in the 85th minute after Benyu was robbed of possession.

It was Ipswich who looked the far more likely to win it in the closing stages though, with second half sub Kyle Hammond – making his first appearance since injuring his cruciate knee ligaments last March – twice producing pin-point crosses from the right that deserved to create a goal. Monty Patterson headed the first one over from a golden position in the six-yard box, while Danish midfielder Victor Guldbrandsen sent the second once wide with his stooping attempt at the far post.

The game ended on a sour note when Benyu was crudely up-ended by physical striker Danny Johnson, the Town midfielder squaring up to his opponent and the duo pulled apart by team-mates. Both were booked.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Kenny; Emmanuel, Ajayi, Clarke, Wyatt; Bishop (Hammond 62), Benyu, Gulbrandsen, Stewart; Ambrose; McQueen (Patterson 76).

Unused subs: Crowe, C.Smith, Ramadan.

CARDIFF CITY (4-4-2): Horton; Barnum-Bobb, Amondarain, James, Owen; Roche, Wharton, Watkins, Bell; Johnson, Southam.

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