FULL-TIME: Ipswich Town 1 Cardiff City 2
Ipswich v Cardiff: Town head into the international break still just a point ahead of rock-bottom side Peterborough in the Championship table after Cardiff came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Portman Road this afternoon.
The Blues played superbly in the opening period and deserved their major slice of luck as debutant DJ Campbell’s inadvertent but blatant finish with his hands was staggeringly allowed to stand in stoppage-time.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas then wasted a glorious chance to add a killer second soon after the restart and that proved costly.
Blues keeper Scott Loach spilt Craig Conway’s cross-cum-shot straight to the feet of Heidar Helguson in the 63rd minute, leaving the striker with a simple tap-in.
It was the third successive game that Town had let a 1-0 lead slip and the error seemed to suck the life of a side whose confidence was already fragile.
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Three minutes from time another defensive error saw the visitors grab all three points – and only their second victory at Portman Road in the last 60 years.
This time Andy Taylor crossed from the left, with Helgusson nodding home at the back stick as Loach remained rooted to his line and Aaron Cresswell failed to track his man.
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Boos rang out around Portman Road the final whistle, with Town having now claimed just two league wins in 16 – their last one at Portman Road coming back on March 31.
A huge slice of luck saw Ipswich Town lead Cardiff City at half-time, with replays showing debutant DJ Campbell clearly used his hands to score in stoppage-time.
The striker – who only arrived on loan from QPR yesterday – put out both hands to protect himself as keeper David Marshall came to claim Lee Martin’s cross to the far post.
The ball went past the custodian though and deflected off the open palms of Campbell to find the net from close-range. The front man initially didn’t celebrate and looked amazed that the goal was awarded, with the linesman well-placed to see the incident on the near side.
Few could argue that the Blues deserve to lead though having increasingly dominated the opening period.
The hosts did survive an early scare when Peter Whittingham’s deep free-kick drifted over everyone and onto the head of an unmarked Mark Hudson in the six-yard box. Fortunately for Daryl Murphy, the man who did not track his runner, the ball was just too high for the Cardiff defender to get meaningful contact.
With the energetic front two of Campbell and Martin defending well from the front though, Town – who kept possession for long spells – began to increasingly take charge of proceedings.
Campbell arguably should have opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Following a sharp one-two with Daryl Murphy down the left, Aaron Cresswell’s cross curled perfectly between defenders Matthew Connolly and Andrew Taylor, but Campbell put his stretched volley over from inside the six-yard box.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas forced a superb diving save out of Marshall in the 27th minute, while Murphy headed against the foot of the post four minutes’ later after Danny Higginbotham had helped a deep corner back into the box.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Blues had a glorious chance to score a crucial second. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas latched onto Martin’s pass, knocked it one side of McNaughton, ran the other to get inside the box, but then blazed his shot well over the bar.
The Blues then began to tire and they were dealt a killer mental blow in the 63rd minute. Loach may have seen substitute Conway’s cross-cum-shot late, but he still should have done better than spilling it straight to the feet of Helgusson for a simple tap-in.
The equaliser sucked the life out of the hosts, with manager Paul Jewell taking off impressive debutants Campbell and Richie Wellens as they tired.
With a sense of unease around the ground and an edginess creeping back into Town’s play, you always felt Cardiff could snatch a winner. It arrived in the 87th minute when Helgusson nodded in at the back post after Loach had stayed rooted to his line and Cresswell failed to track his man.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Loach; Edwards (cpt), Chambers, Higginbotham, Cresswell; Drury, Wellens (Luongo 74); Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy (Mohsni 90+); Campbell (Scotland 59).
Subs: Lee-Barrett, Smith, Ainsley, Carson.
CARDIFF CITY (4-1-4-1): Marshall; McNaughton (Turner 90+), Hudson (cpt), Connolly, Taylor; Cowie; Mason (Gestede 63), Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Noone (Conway 56); Helguson.
Subs: Lewis, Kiss, Velikonja, Kim.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton