Ipswich Town 0-0 Cheltenham Town: Blues frustrated at home by Robins

Wes Burns fires over the bar.

Wes Burns fires over the bar. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town were left frustrated as they were held to a goalless draw by Cheltenham at Portman Road. 

The Blues dominated the first period of this game but, despite creating a succession of chances, weren’t able to find the breakthrough their performance had deserved. 

They were ultimately made to pay for it. 

Cheltenham, who drew 5-5 at Wycombe on Saturday, were much stronger in the second period and stretched the Ipswich defence on a several occasions. And while they themselves couldn’t find a way to goal, they were able to deal a blow to Ipswich play-off hopes which were already working on the finest of margins.  

Kayden Jackson battles with Lewis Freestone early in the game

Kayden Jackson battles with Lewis Freestone early in the game - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Town couldn’t recapture the rhythm which had seen them play with a spring in their step during the opening 45 minutes, with manager Kieran McKenna’s substitutions not able to inject the intended life into Portman Road as frustration filled the air. 

Victory, coupled with results elsewhere, could potentially have closed the gap to sixth place to just two points, but instead it remains at four with 12 matches remaining. 

Next up for the Blues is Saturday’s visit to Morecambe. 

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McKenna made three changes to his starting XI, following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Burton, with one enforced as Lee Evans missed out after limping off in the closing stages of the comfortable win. 

Tom Carroll replaced him in the middle of the Ipswich midfield, while Bersant Celina and Conor Chaplin returned to the side in place of Joe Pigott and Sone Aluko, who both dropped to the bench. 

Conor Chaplin throws himself and a Kayden Jackson cross, but just fails to make an connection.

Conor Chaplin throws himself and a Kayden Jackson cross, but just fails to make an connection. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

The two attacking midfielders lined up behind Kayden Jackson, who moved into a central striking role on his 28th birthday, and was so nearly slipped away inside the opening two minutes as Carroll played a clever through-ball which was cut out at the final second by Cheltenham defender Mattie Pollock. 

Chaplin had Town’s first effort of the night, shooting wide from outside the box, before Wes Burns should really have put the Blues into the lead inside the opening five minutes, as he arrived at the back post to meet Celina’s clever low cross, but could only turn his shot over the top of the bar. 

Celina had a go himself as he combined well with Dominic Thompson before driving to the edge of the Cheltenham box, before firing over the top of the bar, with Chaplin threatening again a few minutes later as his diving header was beaten away by goalkeeper Owen Evans. 

Town were dominating the game, looking to work Cheltenham down the flanks and forcing pressure nearly every time they did, without quite being able to find the final ball. 

Luke Woolfenden flicks on a Conor Chaplin corner towards goal.

Luke Woolfenden flicks on a Conor Chaplin corner towards goal. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Luke Woolfenden was the next Town man to threaten, flashing his header over the top of the bar as he cleverly angled Chaplin’s corner towards goal, before the latter sent a volley flying over the top of the bar as the first half edged towards its conclusion. 

The Blues were by far the better side in a first half they had dominated, without finding the breakthrough they had deserved, before they needed to weather some pressure in the early stages of the second. 

Woolfenden needed to get across sharply as Alfie May and Matty Blair looked to steal into the penalty area, before doing so again to stop May wriggling away after a short Burns pass looked to have put the Town central defender in a little bit of trouble.  

Town came close as George Edmundson flung himself at Celina’s well-placed free-kick, which bounced through the box and wide, before McKenna turned to his bench for the first time as he introduced Kane Vincent-Young and Macauley Bonne in place of Thompson and Jackson. 

Christian Walton, a spectator for much of this match was needed to save Andy Williams’ low shot, as Cheltenham continued to apply pressure and stretch the Blues, before Bonne’s first real impact on this game saw him block a wicked Cheltenham set-piece delivery inside his own six-yard box, as it looked to be creeping into the net.  

Bersant Celina on the ball during the Cheltenham game.

Bersant Celina on the ball during the Cheltenham game. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

The striker, without a goal in his last seven games, fired over the top before McKenna made his final change, bringing Joe Pigott into the game in place of Carroll as he rolled the dice in search of a victory. 

Six minutes of stoppage time were added but, despite Town’s huffs and puffs, they were unable to break the deadlock and instead needed to settle for a point. 

The visitors had the best chance in stoppage time, with Williams blazing over the top before going down with cramp, which led to frustrated Town players attempting to haul him up before a scuffle broke out. 

Ultimately, it ended goalless. 

Ipswich Town (3-4-3): Walton; Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burns, Morsy, Carroll (Pigott, 79), Thompson (Vincent-Young, 65); Celina, Chaplin, Jackson (Bonne, 65) 

Subs: Hladky, Burgess, Bakinson, Aluko 

Cheltenham Town (3-5-2): Evans; Raglan, Pollock, Freestone; Blair, Bonds, Ramsey (Wright, 74), Hutchinson (B Williams, 71), Colkett (Long, 88); May, A Williams 

Subs: Flinders, Soule 

Attendance: 21,318 (251 Cheltenham fans)