Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Ipswich Town: Stalemate once again as Town end away campaign with draw
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Ipswich Town played out their ninth 0-0 draw of the season as their penultimate match of the campaign ended in stalemate at Shrewsbury.
Paul Cook’s men were the better side for long spells of this contest, moving the ball around well, but when it mattered most in the final third they often picked the wrong pass or were unable to find the finish required.
That lack of edge in front of goal is why the Blues’ promotion challenge has fallen away, to the point this game was a dead-rubber, given their chances of making the play-offs were ended at the weekend.
There were some good individual performances, notably Armando Dobra, who twisted and turned throughout this game, producing some moment of real quality which threatened to open doors for his side.
At the back, David Cornell produced a string of good saves while Luke Woolfenden looked calm and assured throughout, making some excellent interceptions in one of his best displays of the season.
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This was the sixth 0-0 in Town’s last 10 games and that, coupled with Charlton’s victory over Lincoln, means the Blues can now only finish as high as ninth, their current position, in League One.
They finish their season at home to Fleetwood on Sunday.
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In what was Town’s penultimate game of an extremely disappointing season, the Blues returned to Shropshire having previously journeyed to New Meadow in February, only for the game to be postponed an hour before kick-off due to frozen sections of the pitch.
Paul Lambert was in charge then, with Paul Cook’s appointment and a change of ownership highlighting just how much has changed at Portman Road since that day.
Cook made just one change to the side which beat Swindon 2-1 at the weekend, with Troy Parrott coming into the starting XI in place of Teddy Bishop, who dropped to the bench.
James Norwood continued as captain, having scored twice with the armband at the County Ground.
As heavy rain subsided and the sun appeared from behind the clouds, Ipswich searched out Norwood whenever they could, but it was the hosts who had the first chance of the game as former Ipswich loanee Matthew Pennington headed over from a corner.
Gwion Edwards had a shot blocked at source before Norwood headed wide, as Town had their first attempts at goal, before Shaun Whalley had an effort of his own blocked for the hosts.
With both sides guaranteed to be in League One next season, there was little urgency in a dead rubber game, with neither side rushing to get the ball back into play once it had gone out. This didn’t apply to Town boss Cook, though, who ran 30 metres into the stands to return the ball for an Ipswich throw on half-way.
Cook was doing his best to inject some fire into his troops from the touchline, urging them to ‘press’ and ‘play’ whenever possible, while the voice of Shrewsbury boss Steve Cotterill bellowed from the back of the stand in what was just his second game back at the club following a long battle with severe Covid-19.
Parrott forced the first save from Shrewsbury keeper Harry Burgoyne, who pushed the Irishman’s long-range effort away, before the clever feet of Armando Dobra saw the youngster jink inside and force the home stopper into action again with a dangerous cross.
David Cornell’s first save of the evening saw the Welshman make a good stop to deny Whalley, following a clever Ollie Norburn pass, before optimistic penalty appeals from Edwards were waved away.
Cornell was called into action again, saving well from 17-year-old striker Tom Bloxham as he got down quickly to his right, before Norwood was booked for kicking the ball out of the stadium as Town frustration at the standard of Lee Swabey’s refereeing.
The official gave Cook a long talking to before the break, following protests and suggestions of ‘farcical’ refereeing, with the two sides going in level at the interval.
Cook sent the same XI players out for the second half, with Town attacks falling down at the last pass as Cook’s men struggled to convert decent positions into chances.
Edwards fired over from a clever Norwood pass before Parrott had another drive saved by Burgoyne, before Myles Kenlock got back well to stop Whalley’s run inside the box, surviving penalty appeals in the process.
Welsh winger Edwards was the source again as he bundled forward down the left, before cutting back for Parrott to fire over the top from range. A few minutes later, Norwood saw a Kenlock cross late as he couldn’t convert a header at the back post, as chances went awry for Town.
The visitors lived dangerously as Cornell needed to make a good save to stop veteran Dave Edwards, rushing out to block the shot with an out-stretched hand, before a ball back into the box saw substitute Dan Udoh graze the bar with a free header.
Another clever Dobra pass slipped Norwood in but, as had become the theme of the evening, the striker fired over the top and didn’t test the goalkeeper.
Neither side could find a way through in the final minutes, as the game ended in an all-too familiar goalless draw.
Worryingly, the contest finished with Vincent-Young receiving treatment following a slip in the middle of the pitch. The full-back appeared to have suffered a shoulder injury.