Cambridge United 0-0 Ipswich Town: Downes sent off for violent headbutt in closing minutes of draw
Flynn Downes was sent-off for a violent headbutt in the final minutes of Ipswich Town’s 0-0 draw with Cambridge United this afternoon.
Downes was arguably Town's top performer as the midfielder used the ball superbly throughout and won it back with tenacity, but that tenacity boiled over once again as he lashed out in the aftermath of a bad tackle from Paul Lewis. Downes headbutted the Cambridge man having also pushed him in the chest, sparking a brawl involving both sides before Town boss Paul Lambert entered the pitch to lead his player away.
Downes was rightly red-carded for a major error of judgement as the red mist descended, while Cambridge striker Jabo Ibehre was also sent off after clashing with Downes after the incident.
Before that the major talking point was set to be the return of Alan Judge.
The Irishman, the subject of two failed bids from QPR in recent weeks, received a good ovation from the 1,600 travelling Ipswich fans before coming on as a half-time substitute.
He offered a real spark after a first-half of few chances, with his deliveries from either side and link-up play with James Norwood threatening to unlock the Cambridge defence before full-time.
Ultimately the Blues had the better of the play without finding a way through, in what was their fi
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For the first time this summer, Paul Lambert returned to the diamond which served him so well last February for the final pre-season outing.
That saw Danny Rowe play at the point of the midfield behind Norwood and Jackson, in a role he occupied well for Lincoln City last season as the Imps won the League Two title.
He was bright in the early minutes, bringing his strikers into the game and connecting well with Andre Dozzell, without being able to create too many sights of goal.
Jackson fired one effort wide and another over the top, while Norwood's biggest contributions came with a succession of clever lay-offs in the final third.
Tomas Holy, starting in goal, had to make one good save from Jabo Ibehre's dragged shot, following a mix-up involving trialist Jon Guthrie, while Luke Woolfenden made a couple of good interceptions at the back.
The other notable attacking moment of the half saw youngster Bailey Clements get forward well from left back and send in a teasing cross which Janoi Donacien narrowly failed to meet.
Judge was greeted by chants of 'we want you to stay' as he warmed up towards the end of the half, with the Irishman making his return from a wrist injury after the break.
He was involved immediately, picking up the ball in a roaming midfield role before then delivering a teasing cross from the left from which Norwood forced a good save from substitute keeper Callum Burton.
Judge's cross created Ipswich's next opening as his ball in from the right seeing Norwood knock the ball down to Garbutt, who was only able to angle his shot into the side-netting.
Goalkeeper Holy was required to make two decent blocks from Cambridge attacks, while also plucking two more high balls out of the air, before Town had the ball in the net.
Once again the attack came from a Judge cross, this time from the left, which beat goalkeeper Callum Burton in flight and went into the net off of Norwood, who greatly received the ball in. The flag was up though and it was ruled out after appearing to hit the striker's hand.
Downes, who was excellent throughout, was the next to threaten as he burst through the Cambridge defence before taking a heavy touch and seeing his effort bundled behind for a corner.
But his game ended early as the red-mist descended.
Ultimately the game ended goalless.
Ipswich Town: Holy; Donacien (Huws, 59), Woolfenden (Chambers 59), Guthrie (Wilson, 46), Clements; Skuse, Downes, Dozzell (Dobra, 59), Rowe (Garbutt, 46), Jackson (Judge, 46), Norwood.
Subs not used: Bialkowski, Emmanuel, El Mizouni