Player watch: Celina nets again after being given rare start... but there was no repeat of Burton magic in Cardiff loss
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Ipswich Town writer Andy Warren kept a close eye on Bersant Celina after the Manchester City loanee was given a rare start.
Bersant Celina once again saved his best for last but, unlike at Burton on Saturday, his late goal at Cardiff failed to send the Blues home happy.
Of the six changes Mick McCarthy made to his starting line-up for the visit to Cardiff, one stood out as Celina was handed his first Ipswich Town start for a month. The Kosovo international’s stunning winner at Burton sent the visiting fans wild and sparked debate over both his selection and further questions over McCarthy’s relationship with the Blues’ support, but this time his late strike ultimately meant nothing,
Fans’ calls for the talented midfielder have been batted away by McCarthy who suggested any clamour from the stands could make him less likely to field the Kosovan, but his 90-minute display in south Wales suggested he can play a part on the road, even if there were no shirt-flinging heroics this time around.
He split his time between the left of a front three and a spell behind Joe Garner, but was ultimately unable to leave a lasting mark on the contest despite his strike briefly giving the Blues hope as time ticked down.
It wasn’t for the want of trying.
At times he was confident, direct and dangerous. At others he was isolated, limited and frustrated. Exactly what you would expect from a young flair player.
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He got stuck into the dirty side of the game early, positioning himself well to hook the ball away to safety inside the first minute, before jinking his way into the opposition box soon after as he stretched his legs early on.
His first big moment came in the 27th-minute when he stood over a free-kick just 20 yards out, just as he did at the Pirelli Stadium, but rather than dinking his effort over the wall and into the net, his effort hit the Cardiff barrier. His shirt stayed firmly on.
His skill and hustle nearly produced a goal for Flynn Downes, as he drove forward and played the ball for the academy gradutate to then shoot straight at Joe Ralls’ out-stretched leg.
Ipswich’s best spells were driven by Celina’s best moments but, as they searched for a route back into the contest, his influence wained despite another free-kick which tested home keeper Neil Etheridge.
He did find the net with a neat finish which looked set to spark a late crusade for an equaliser, but the game was beyond Town just seconds later thanks to Danny Ward’s strike.
There was to be no magic moment, but there was evidence to suggest the youngster is up to handling the rough and tumble of the Championship.
Will he start against Preston on Saturday? To use a McCarthy-ism - ‘who’s to say’.