Crewe Alexandra 1-1 Ipswich Town: Drinan scrambles a point as Blues slip to 11th
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Aaron Drinan’s first professional goal rescued a point for Ipswich Town as the Blues dropped to 11th in League One.
Paul Lambert’s men produced some decent football in patches but once again failed to carry a consistent goal threat during a contest which looked as if it was heading towards defeat, once Charlie Kirk had put the hosts ahead in the second half.
Drinan was on the scoresheet just seconds after being introduced as he bundled home an equaliser, before Teddy Bishop made Town’s task that little bit harder as he was sent off after picking up two yellow cards during his 20 minutes on the field a second-half substitute.
Ultimately a draw was probably a fair result as Town extended a winless run to three games, at a time when manager Lambert is under increasing pressure as the Blues fall away from promotion places.
Lambert made three changes to his side with two enforced, as suspended striker Kayden Jackson was replaced by Freddie Sears and Alan Judge came into the side in place of the injured Jon Nolan.
Myles Kenlock replaced Stephen Ward at left-back while there was a welcome return to the bench for James Norwood, as well as Jack Lankester.
The Blues started well, forcing two corners which Crewe keeper David Richards was able to punch clear under pressure, before Kenlock got forward well to cross just behind Sears’ run. That move forced another corner, and then another, but the hosts were able to handle them well enough.
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Town kept pushing and a good move from the back saw Judge speed up an attack also involving Sears and captain Luke Chambers, before Luke Thomas had an effort turned behind by the combination of goalkeeper and post.
Kenlock, starting his first League One game since October 20, made a goal-saving tackle to deny Crewe striker Mikael Mandron from point-blank range, following some instinctive link play from the hosts.
The contest had become an even one before Charlie Kirk bundled into the net from an offside position, with the strike ruled out, before a flurry of cards saw Kenlock, Sears and Crewe centre-half Omar Beckles enter the referee’s notebook.
Gwion Edwards took an almighty whack in the final seconds of the opening period but emerged for the second, running off his knock and attempting to attack from the left flank.
Town’s best opening came as Chambers intercepted on halfway and ran to the edge of the Crewe box where, unsure whether to shoot or pass, did neither as the opportunity fizzled out.
Then the punch to the gut. Woolfenden appeared to be fouled on halfway by Mandron but, with the referee waving play on, Ryan Wintle was able to drive forward and slip in Kirk to finish past Holy.
Lambert’s response was to introduce Teddy Bishop and James Norwood, with the latter soon presented with an excellent chance as Judge’s low ball so nearly reached him, with Omar Beckles scampering back to clear off the Town striker’s toe.
The next substitution worked a treat as, within seconds of entering the game, Drinan scrambled the ball home after Lancashire failed to deal with Judge clipped cross, chesting it into the path of the Town striker to bundle it in.
Town’s tails were up but were soon clipped as Bishop picked up his second yellow card of the game, leaving just 10 Blue shirts to battle on.
They did just that and never truly looked like losing their point before the full-time whistle went.
Crewe Alexandra: Richards; Jones, Lancashire, Beckles, Pickering; Murphy (Porter, 90), Wintle, Finney (Evans, 79), Walker (Dale, 52), Mandron, Kirk (Powell, 79)
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Lowery, Johnson
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Kenlock; Downes, Dozzell, Judge; Thomas (Bishop, 63), Edwards (Drinan, 75), Sears (Norwood, 63)
Subs: Cornell, Ward, Baggott, Lankester