Ipswich Town 0-0 Oxford United: Two sides can't be separated yet again

Sam Morsy and Cameron Brannagan battle.

Sam Morsy and Cameron Brannagan battle. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town and Oxford United played out yet another 0-0 draw as two in-form sides couldn’t be separated at Portman Road. 

The Blues hit the woodwork twice in the early stages of the contest but had to weather Oxford pressure during the remainder of the opening period, before finding their groove after the break. 

Town’s decision making improved but, despite working their way into some good positions, neither they or their visitors could break the deadlock. 

Town players before the kick-off.

Town players before the kick-off. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

This result means the two teams have played out goalless draws on four of the five occasions they’ve met since Town dropped into League One, with the other meeting between the two sides yielding just one goal as the U’s left Portman Road with the points last February. 

Paul Cook’s men pushed for a winner in the closing stages of this game, as five minutes were added on, but there was to be no repeat of Bersant Celina’s dramatic clincher in their last home league game against Fleetwood. 

Chants of 'boring, boring Oxford' rang out from Portman Road's North Stand, as the visitors ran down the clock and looked more than happy to leave with a point for long spells of this game.

The point sees Town and Oxford remain in sixth and ninth respectively. 

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Next up for Town is Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at Oldham, before a league visit to Sunderland next weekend. 

There was a surprise on the Town sheet as, with both Hayden Coulson and Matt Penney both injured, Cook went with youngster Bailey Clements at left-back, with the former Northgate pupil making his first league appearance for the club. 

Toto Nsiala in action.

Toto Nsiala in action. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Janoi Donacien came in at right-back, with the two wide defenders the only changes from the start of Town’s last League One encounter. 

The Blues started on the back foot, with Toto Nsiala needing to make a good headed clearance to stop a deep cross finding Matty Taylor, before Macauley Bonne struck the post with a near-post header following a corner from Lee Evans. 

The fast start to this game continued as Mark Sykes drove inside and fired in a shot from range which Christian Walton did well to watch and then tip over the bar. 

Town were beginning to work openings for themselves, with a driving Clements run allowing the youngster to lay the ball off for Bersant Celina, who became the second Ipswich player to hit the woodwork as his shot from outside the box was turned onto the post by Simon Eastwood. 

The hosts were getting themselves into good areas but were making some poor decisions when they got there, turning down crossing opportunities and forcing passes which weren’t there, while also having some tricky moments as they tussled with Oxford’s impressive left side. 

There was perhaps something of a let-off, just before the break, as a mistake from Nsiala saw the defender allow a cross-field pass to run through, meaning the defender had to scamper back and make a recovery tackle to stop Nathan Holland having an easy attempt on goal. 

Bersant Celina battles with Herbie Kane.

Bersant Celina battles with Herbie Kane. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Oxford boss Karl Robinson was booked for his protests, wanting a penalty after Holland had hit the deck under Nsiala’s challenge, before the two sides headed to the dressing rooms, level at the break. 

Town flew out the traps at the start of the second period, as Bonne forced a low save from Eastwood after clever interplay involving Edwards and Celina, with the latter curling a shot wide a few minutes later.  

The home pressure continued, with Clements getting forward well to put in a low cross which Bonne couldn’t quite reach, on the stretch, before the striker wasn’t quite on the same page as Celina tried a clever through ball. 

Cook’s first move saw him introduce both Sone Aluko and Conor Chaplin from the bench, in place of Edwards and Burns, but as Town worked away they weren’t able to produce the clear-cut chances they needed to take the points. 

Ipswich Town: Walton; Donacien, Nsiala, Edmundson, Clements; Morsy, Evans; Burns (Aluko, 70), Celina (Pigott, 90+2), Edwards (Chaplin, 70); Bonne

Subs: Hladky, Burgess, Harper, Fraser

Oxford United: Eastwood; Long, Moore, Thorniley, Seddon; Kane, Henry (McGuane, 70), Brannagan; Sykes, Holland (Williams, 90+), Taylor (Agyei, 89)

Subs: Plumley, Forde, McNally, Bodin

Att: 21,322 (922 Oxford fans)

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