Below-par Town progress in cup

RONAN Murray struck with a 48th minute penalty to put Ipswich Town through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road last night.

Elvin King

RONAN Murray struck with a 48th minute penalty to put Ipswich Town through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road last night.

The Irish lad's goal gave a young Blues side a victory they just about deserved with many of their players first year scholars and Colchester-based striker Connor Wickham just 15.

Too many passes went astray from the home side and opponents who

carried more poise than a hard-working Shrewsbury outfit would surely have capitalised.

With an inexperienced side this term Town's chances of repeating their 2005 success in this Blue Riband youth tournament would appear slim.

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But they occasionally showed some nice touches and kept going to the final whistle.

Jack Ainsley caught the eye at the back and right back Joe Clemo was often in the thick of the action. England Under-16 international Wickham carried a goal threat while Murray had an increasing influence on proceedings.

Ipswich took a long while to wear down a keen Shrewsbury, but slowly but surely they gained control.

Andre Gray drove his shot across goal in the 19th minute following one poor Town pass almost too many. After 30 minutes, a precise Blues move involving Ainsley, Wickham and Murray ended with Wickham having a shot deflected wide.

Three minutes before the interval Wickham turned well to create space after a cross from the right, and his eventual shot struck the top of the bar.

With Luke Hyam stretching and having to be carried from the field on a motorised stretcher early on with Billy Clark taking his place, Ipswich sought an early second half goal.

And it duly arrived in the 48th minute. Murray was put through and was brought crashing to the ground by the opposing keeper.

The referee had no doubts it was a spot kick and there were few protests before Murray retrieved the ball and comprehensively beat David Maguire with a low penalty to the keeper's right.

Clark had an effort cleared off the line following a cross from Reggie Lambe, before Town suffered two late scares.

David Cawley lost possession in the 82nd minute and Aaron Gibson turned an angled shot on to the top of the Town bar.

After Wickham had seen his close-range effort well saved, a 93rd minute mistake by substitute Tom Eastman led to Stephen Davey shooting over a vacant goal from five yards - to turn round with some relief to see a flag raised for offside to save his embarrassment!

Line-ups

Ipswich Town: Ward, Clemo, Dunbar (sub Meekings 90), Hyam (Clark 7), Watson, Ainsley, Lambe, Cawley (Eastman 86), Wickham, Murray, Daniels. Subs: Brandon, Griffiths.

Shrewsbury Town: Maguire, Farmer, Gibson, Hooman, Batchelor (Taylor 68), Richards, Coulston, Dix, Gray, Turner (Evitts 65), Taylor (Partridge 78). Subs: Flynn, Davey.

Referee: Mr L Betts.