Ipswich Town 0-0 Portsmouth: Blues must settle for a point

Bersant Celina in action against Portsmouth.

Bersant Celina in action against Portsmouth. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town and Portsmouth played out a spirited 0-0 draw at Portman Road as the two play-off contenders drew a blank. 

On what was a big afternoon for the Blues, in front of a 25,000-strong crowd, Kieran McKenna’s men couldn’t find a way through during a contest in which they held the upper hand for significant spells, without being able to find their way through. 

The contest had plenty of flashpoints without truly sparking into life, on an afternoon where injuries once again played a part. 

With George Edmundson already out, Ipswich lost skipper Sam Morsy and striker Kayden Jackson in the first half, with McKenna’s men taking time to find their feet after suffering two big blows. 

Cameron Burgess in a battle with Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Cameron Burgess in a battle with Ryan Tunnicliffe. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

The Town boss has previously stated how draws are of little use to his team, as they bid to crash the play-off party, and while avoiding defeat against an in-form Portsmouth form is a decent result on the face of things, you have to feel Town needed more. 

It's now 11 clean sheets in 15 matches under Kieran McKenna, with the draw extending the Blues' unbeaten record to nine matches. 

The draw leaves Ipswich in ninth, five points off the final play-off place with eight games remaining. Teams above them still hold games in hand. 

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Next up is a visit to Oxford next weekend.

Town went into this game with injury worries, with Edmundson potentially out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Cameron Burgess replaced him. 

Morsy and Wes Burns were late calls on the morning of the game, after suffering injuries against Lincoln in midweek, but were good to go. That meant McKenna’s only other change saw Sone Aluko drop out of the side and Conor Chaplin take his place. 

The Blues started on front foot and were the early aggressors, with Bersant Celina and Chaplin both firing wide and Jackson nearly connecting with a Morsy cross, before the latter worryingly received treatment as he went down holding his troublesome hamstring. 

Kayden Jackson throws his shirt to the ground in frustration, as heads back to the dressing room jus

Kayden Jackson throws his shirt to the ground in frustration, as heads back to the dressing room just before half-time - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

He continued, with Ipswich’s next opening seeing a short corner eventually work its way to Burns, who sent in a flighted ball which Luke Woolfenden nodded back into a crowd of players including Jackson, before the ball was cleared.   

Twelve minutes after initially receiving treatment, Morsy’s game was over as he sunk to his knees before indicating he needed to be replaced. He walked off the pitch unaided, with Tom Carroll replacing him. 

Ipswich survived a choppy period after their skipper’s exit, with stray clearances thankfully going unpunished during a time when the Blues looked uncharacteristically flustered. 

Possession still tilted in Ipswich’s favour, though, with Chaplin the next to use his side’s time on the ball to threaten the goal as he drove a shot over the top of the crossbar just before the break. 

There was still time for one chance before the half-time whistle blew, as an outstanding Chaplin pass put Jackson away, with the Ipswich striker forcing a good save from Portsmouth goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu and ultimately needing to receive treatment and head back to the dressing room. 

His game was done too, with Macauley Bonne replacing him before the break. 

Dominic Thompson and Mahlon Romeo battle in the air.

Dominic Thompson and Mahlon Romeo battle in the air. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Both sides had their moments at the start of the second half, with Ipswich looking to get the ball into the feet of Celina and Chaplin to threaten, and Pompey probing down their right side through Ronan Curtis. 

Sean Raggett, formerly of Norwich City, nodded over a cross from the opposite flank as the visitors before it was Danny Cowley’s side needing to manage injuries, as both Bazunu and Louis Thompson hit the deck and required treatment at the same time. 

Burns was struggling following his early knock but was still able to work the ball inside and tee up Tyreeq Bakinson for a shot which Bazunu held well, before the Pompey keeper made another smart stop to keep Celina out after he had been cleverly threaded through on goal. 

Bakinson, from an offside position, headed into the side-netting as the atmosphere built inside Portman Road. That was only helped by a touchline flashpoint which saw Cowley block Town’s Thompson from taking a throw-in, with Curtis also getting involved and the three men all receiving bookings. 

Celina slashed wide from the edge of the box, before Burgess, Woolfenden and Bonne combined to turn the ball into the net in the final minutes, only for the offside flag to deny the Blues. 

And that was as close as they came to finding a winner as McKenna’s men had to settle for a point. 

Ipswich Town: Walton; Donacien, Woolfenden, Burgess; Burns (Aluko, 86), Morsy (Carroll, 21), Bakinson, Thompson; Chaplin, Celina, Jackson (Bonne, 45+1)

Subs: Hladky, Vincent-Young, Norwood, Pigott

Portsmouth: Bazunu; Carter, Raggett, Robertson, Romeo, Thompson (Morrell, 71), Tunnicliffe, Ogilvie; Curtis, O'Brien (Hume, 84), Hirst (Walker, 85)

Subs: Webber, Vincent, Mingi, Jewitt-White

Attendance: 25,500 (1,986 Portsmouth fans)