GALLERY & MATCH REPORT: Burnley 1 Ipswich Town 0

Tommy Smith has his shirt over his head at the final whistle as Ipswich's Play-off quest is halted a

Tommy Smith has his shirt over his head at the final whistle as Ipswich's Play-off quest is halted at Turf Moor - Credit: Archant

Burnley v Ipswich: Ipswich Town’s top-six push ended with a whimper, the Blues going to down to a 1-0 defeat at already-promoted Burnley.

In a win-or-bust game, played in front of the Sky television cameras, Town lacked urgency until it was far too late. Michael Kightly’s 54th minute goal proved to be the difference, with the hosts – who weren’t exactly all guns blazing – largely untroubled until the closing moments.

Defeat means the Blues are four points adrift of sixth-place Brighton (2-0 winners over Yeovil last night) heading into their season-finale against Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road.

A top-half finish is assured, but Town could still finish as low as 12th. Indeed, they could end the day in that position if Bournemouth, Blackburn and Watford were all to win later this afternoon.

The play-off push may have hit the buffers in the last week, but it has nevertheless been a season of major progress for Ipswich Town. This time last year, the Blues headed into their penultimate game of the campaign still not safe from relegation. Twelve months later and they were still in with a shot at promotion with two games to go.

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Burnley’s incredible success story should act as an inspiration to Town. The Lancashire club have proved that promotion can be achieved on a small budget and with a small squad. With some solid foundations now in place, there is every reason to believe that Mick McCarthy can take the Suffolk club up another level following some summer wheeling and dealing.

You can count the number of flat performances that a hard-working and consistent Ipswich side have produced on one hand this season. Unfortunately, today was one of them. There were a couple of half-chances in the first half, Tommy Smith’s header diverted over the bar by Kieran Trippier and Frazer Richardson stabbing over the bar at the far post, but the Blues never really displayed any get-up-and-go against a team already in party mode.

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When the Clarets broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, Kightly passing the ball into an empty net after Dean Gerken had saved from Danny Ings, the writing was on the wall.

A strangely subdued Turf Moor crowd finally found their voices and the home side suddenly began to enjoy themselves. Ings’ ambitious 30-yard effort whistled just past the post, twice Town scrambled the ball away in their own box, before Ings slid in to stab Dean Marney’s low cross against the bar.

McCarthy brought on Paul Taylor and Frank Nouble in an attempt to spark his side into life and they did finally show some fight and urgency in the closing moments. Tom Heaton clawed Taylor’s super free-kick effort out of the top corner, Nouble’s volley dipped just over the bar and Christophe Berra glanced a header just wide. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

BURNLEY (4-4-2): Heaton; Trippier, Shackell (cpt), Duff, Mee; Arfield (Wallace 71), Jones, Marney, Kightly (Stanislas 63); Barnes, Ings (Treacy 90+).

Unused subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Baird.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Richardson (Taylor 66), Green, Skuse, Hunt (Nouble 66); Williams; Murphy.

Unused subs: Loach, Mings, Veseli, Tabb, Marriott.

Booked: Smith (26), Williams (82)

Attendance: 14,574 (460 away)

Referee: Mr J Linington

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