Northampton Town 3-0 Ipswich Town: Another night of misery for Blues as goal drought goes on
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Another miserable night for Ipswich Town saw the Blues’ goal drought continue as Paul Cook’s side went down 3-0 at lowly Northampton.
Right-back Peter Kioso scored two first-half goals to effectively settle this game, twice scoring from corners, with Town once again lacking any real punch in the final third as their run without a goal stretched to nearly nine hours of football.
It got worse after the break, as goalkeeper Tomas Holy came from his box to meet a through ball, but only gifted the ball to Ryan Watson, who shot back with interest to well-and-truly kill off this game.
Town have not found the net since the American-backed takeover earlier this month, with that inability in the final third the reason their bid to make the League One play-offs is surely lying in tatters.
The gap to sixth place is now five points, with Town now sitting 11th and holding a goal difference of minus-three, while their tally of 41 only better than bottom side Bristol Rovers and tonight’s opponents.
Cook was screaming from the touchline throughout this game, exasperated by what he was seeing from a side who were passive throughout, lacked drive and whose heads went down once they went behind.
The game was played out in front of a brightly-coloured funfair, which overlooked Sixfields, with Town’s season now looking very much like a big dipper, following their collapse from the top of the pile early in the campaign.
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Cook has already stated his desire for a deep clean at Portman Road this summer, with a mass exodus of players likely. He will only have been convinced further by tonight’s showing.
Next up is a home clash with AFC Wimbledon, who beat the Blues 3-0 a week ago.
Cook made two changes to his side following Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Charlton, with Teddy Bishop missing out through illness and James Norwood sidelined with a hamstring issue which forced him off at The Valley.
In came Freddie Sears and Kayden Jackson, with the pair helping the Blues establish themselves in the final third early on, with a succession of corners resulting in Gwion Edwards cracking the ball against the upright from range as the Welshman let fly from outside the box.
The good start soon crumbled away, though, as a disputed corner resulted in Joseph Mills crossing for Northampton and right-back Peter Kioso arriving late to volley home after just eight minutes, with Town static as the defender got the run on a handful of players.
Town were behind but came out playing, working the ball into wide areas but not being able to produce the final ball needed, before Stephen Ward needed to make an excellent recovery tackle to stop Caleb Chukwuemeka from turning the ball home from close range.
The Blues were keeping the ball and working it well but weren’t threatening the Northampton goal, aside from a pair of cross from the right which deflected through the Cobblers’ box and were ultimately cleared.
The hosts were so close to going two up as Tomas Holy saved a Ryan Watson shot and Mark McGuinness turned a Mills shot behind in a matter of seconds, but the Blues couldn’t survive the corner that followed as Kioso again got the run on the Ipswich defence and turned home for the second time.
It should have been three, when Alex Jones headed wide from another dangerous Mills cross, before Town’s own goalless streak sailed past the eight-hour mark before the end of the opening period.
Sears nearly ended it with a back-header which thumped off the top of the bar, prior to the half-time whistle, with any good work the Blues had managed in the first-half more than undone with their defending when it mattered.
Cook sent the same 11 players out for the second period, charged with making amends, and they should really have been level five minutes into the half as Jackson’s cross deflected into the path of Kane Vincent-Young, who had more than half the goal to finish into. Sadly, though, he hit it back across goal and straight at the goalkeeper.
Cook introduced Armando Dobra, Aaron Drinan and Oli Hawkins from the bench, with the latter having a header fly just off target soon after coming on, and that was as good as it got for an Ipswich side who now surely need this season to end as soon as possible.
They will have wanted this game to end, too, but there was still time for Holy’s error, which came at the end of an erratic night of kicking, to be punished by the game’s third goal.
Northampton Town: Mitchell; Kioso (Harriman, 83), Jones, Horsfall, Mills; McWilliams, Morris, Watson; Chukwuemeka (Marshall, 55), Hoskins, Jones (Rose, 81)
Subs: Bolger, Korboa, Miller, Woods
Ipswich Town: Holy; Vincent-Young, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Ward; Downes, Dozzell; Edwards, Bennetts (Dobra, 57), Sears (Hawkins, 67); Jackson (Drinan, 67)
Subs: Cornell, Chambers, Kenlock, Skuse