Ipswich Town 0-0 Northampton Town: Blues lack spark, ideas and drive in miserable Cobblers draw

Mark McGuinness gets his head to an Alan Judge cross, but couldn't hit the target

Mark McGuinness gets his head to an Alan Judge cross, but couldn't hit the target - Credit: Photo: Steve Wallerwww.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town were lacking in every department as they laboured to a goalless draw against managerless Northampton Town on a miserable night at Portman Road. 

Paul Lambert’s men lacked any kind of spark for the duration of this contest, with ideas, energy, flair and drive also in short supply against a Cobblers side battling for their lives at the foot of the table.  

The hosts could easily have been out of the contest by the break, given the volume of chances created by the visitors, who found pockets of space and were also able to break through the middle of the Ipswich defence on a number of occasions. 

Luke Woolfenden goes to ground trying to get on the end of a Town free kick.

Luke Woolfenden goes to ground trying to get on the end of a Town free kick. - Credit: Photo: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

And though that tide was stemmed in the second period, Ipswich failed to carry any kind of consistent goal threat of their own as they failed to find a way through. 

The night ended with Flynn Downes being shown a second yellow card in stoppage time, earning him a one-match ban.

The draw, which comes a day after supporters interrupted a training session to once again call for Lambert’s sacking, moves the Blues up to 11th place in the League One table. 

Oxford visit on Saturday. 

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Lambert went with the same side which was due to start at Shrewsbury on Saturday, before the  match was postponed, making five changes to the team which went down 2-1 at Peterborough a week prior. 

Flynn Downes is shown the red card.

Flynn Downes is shown the red card. - Credit: Photo: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Young full-backs Luke Matheson and Myles Kenlock returned in place of Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, while Freddie Sears and Luke Thomas came back on the wings. Josh Harrop made his first Ipswich start, with James Norwood, Alan Judge and Teddy Bishop dropping to the bench. 

In reality there was just one change from the home victory over Blackpool, with Judge dropping out and Harrop replacing him. 

Both sides were vocal from the start, more so than in recent games at Portman Road, but the contest lacked quality as the two teams tried to connect with strikers using long balls which too often bounced harmlessly away. 

Town’s lone forward, Troy Parrott, nearly put his side in serious trouble on 11 minutes when an attempted square ball to the Ipswich defence was wildly misplaced, allowing Mark Marshall to drive forward to test Mark McGuinness. Thankfully Tomas Holy was quick off his line to snuff out the danger. 

Northampton were on top, stretching the Town defence more than the Blues were able to do in return, with the Cobblers testing Holy again as Jack Sowerby broke away down the right and burst into the box. The Ipswich keeper held his shot at the second attempt as he fell on the rebound inside his own six-yard box. 

Town’s first real effort on goal ended with Parrott sending the tamest of free-kicks wide of Jonathan Mitchell’s post, before the hosts raised their intensity levels and won a succession of loose balls which, in normal times, would have got the crowd going inside Portman Road. 

The hosts needed Matheson to throw himself in front of a Hoskins shot inside the box, which was surely heading for the net, as a poor half passed the 30-minute mark, at which point Holy suffered a blow to the head while trying to punch a corner clear. Referee Darren Drysdale showed little interest in allowing the Czech to receive treatment, though, with the Town stopper stumbling around his six-yard box holding his head. Thankfully McGuinness stuck out a foot to block a goal-bound shot while Holy was struggling to stand. 

He was fine to continue, needing to be alert prior to half-time as right-back Peter Kioso fired a rocket of a shot from an acute angle which Holy appeared to push onto the inside of his near post before the ball thankfully bounced clear.  

Flynn Downes is shown his first yellow in the Town v Northampton (league one) match match at Portman

Flynn Downes is shown his first yellow in the Town v Northampton (league one) match match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 16 February 2021. - Credit: Photo: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Marshall then dragged a shot wide prior to the interval, as the hosts threatened yet again, with the Blues lucky to have their clean-sheet intact at the break. 

The same 11 players returned after the break, with the Blues having the first chance of the second period as Myles Kenlock headed over from an early corner.  

Another lucky escape came after Downes was caught in possession in midfield, with a through-ball tearing Ipswich open and needing a succession of blocks for the hosts to eventually clear. Their break forward ended with Dozzell having a shot deflected wide, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.  

Lambert’s first move saw him introduce Jack Lankester, Alan Judge and Teddy Bishop from his bench, before James Norwood was later summoned. 

The striker had the Blues’ first real chance of this game, with his shot saved by Jonathan Mitchell after he was slipped in by Judge, with that chance as close as Town came to finding a way through on a miserable night at Portman Road. 

Town manager Paul Lambert waves his finger at referee Darren Drysdale as he has words after the matc

Town manager Paul Lambert waves his finger at referee Darren Drysdale as he has words after the match. - Credit: Photo: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Judge also had penalty appeals waved away, after he went down inside the box under Kioso's challenge, with the Irishman booked for diving as referee Darren Drysdale squared up to the Ipswich Town man before showing him the yellow card.

It became that little bit more miserable in added time, when Downes was sent off after picking up his second booking for a midfield tangle.

Ipswich Town: Holy, Matheson, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Kenlock; Downes, Dozzell (Norwood, 71), Harrop (Bishop, 59); Thomas (Lankester, 57), Sears (Judge, 59), Parrott

Subs: Cornell, Chambers, Ward

Northampton Town: Mitchell, Kioso, Horsfall, Jones, Mills, McWilliams, Morris, Sowerby, (Edmondson 87), Hoskins, Rose (Ashley-Seal, 70), Marshall (Watson, 70)

Subs: Arnold, Harriman, Bolger, Chukwuemeka

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