Topsy Turvy Town lose to Cardiff

IT was back to struggling for Ipswich Town when their topsy-turvy season continued in the Coca-Cola Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

Cardiff Green

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Ipswich Town 1 Cardiff City 2

By Elvin King

IT was back to struggling Ipswich Town when their topsy-turvy season continued in the Coca-Cola Championship at Portman Road this afternoon.

After their good display against Bristol City on Wednesday this was a poor performance when they lost out on another chance to get among the play-off positions.

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In awful cold, wet and windy conditions, Jay Bothroyd gave the visitors an eighth minute lead with defender Gabor Gyepes adding to this in the 26th minute. Jon Stead pulled a goal back with a fine diving 42nd minute header, but Town had to play from the 67th minute with ten men after Ben Thatcher was sent off for two yellow cards inside 120 seconds.

Town made two changes - both enforced. Alex Bruce lost an appeal yesterday against his red card received at home to Bristol City yesterday with club captain Richard Naylor coming in to play at the heart of the defence beside team captain Gareth McAuley.

Ben Thatcher came back into the side at left back as David Wright went down with a chest infection. This meant two changes in the back four for a Town side that had not lost at home to Cardiff since 1946.

The loss of Bruce and David Wright proved significant as both Cardiff goals came after lapses at the back.

In the seventh minute a fast-starting Cardiff have a good chance. Chopra is put into space by Bothroyd, but Wright is able to save and then collect the ball as it runs loose

A minute later, BOTHROYD scores after Routledge puts the ball back into the middle after a cross from the left. The ball comes off the thigh of McAuley and Bothroyd is unmarked six yards out to beat Wright with a shot into the roof of the net.

Thatcher tries a 25-yard thunderbolt in the 21st minute that Enckelman struggles to save above his head.

A minute later, Volz fails to clear and Chopra goes clear to round Wright on the edge of the penalty area. He shoots at the vacant goal, and somehow McAuley gets back to clear off the line - injuring himself as he collides with the post. The number four is able to continue after treatment.

Town are unbeaten at home since August in the league, but they were in grave danger of losing that record after Cardiff scored a second goal in the 26th minute.

Naylor conceded a free-kick and when the ball is played in low it is not cleared and GYEPES is able to fire low left-footed into the corner of the goal to Wright's right. There has to be big question marks over more poor defending by Town.

Out of the blue and having gone through a spell when they could not string three passes together, Town pull a 42nd minute goal back with a flying Stead downward header after a fine move.

Thatcher won the ball and Counago fed Walters down the right. A perfect cross was netted by a diving STEAD giving the keeper no chance. It was his sixth goal of the season putting him level to with Counago.

Legendary Town goal poachers Ray Crawford and Ted Phillips were in the crowd having being involved in a book signing for Crawford's book in the Planet Blue shot prior to kick-off.

The pitch had been covered since Thursday to keep off the severe frost of Thursday night and the prolonged rain overnight and this morning.

Town attacked the North Stand goal after the interval but in the 50th minute Naylor blocks a goal-bound E Johnson shot, and within seconds Wright dives full length along his line to push away a header that Bothroyd thought was a certain goal.

Thatcher is booked for the first time since he joined Town in the 65th minute and when he trips Routledge two minutes later after an error by Naylor he is shown his second yellow card and sent to the dressing room - the second Town player sent off in three days.

Town huffed and puffed after that, but were unable to get close to an equaliser with Garvan and Balkestein booked late on.

Teams

Ipswich Town: Wright; Volz, Naylor, McAuley, Thatcher; Walters, Norris, Shumulikoski (sub Garvan 60 mins), Ambrose; Stead (Haynes 69), Counago (Balkestein 69). Substitutes: Supple, Lisbie.

Cardiff City: Enckelman; McNaughton, Gyepes, R Johnson, Kennedy; Routledge, Ledley, Rae, Parry; Chopra (E Johnson 34, McPhail 82), Bothroyd. Substitutes: Heaton, Comminges, Scimeca.

Referee: Mr K Woolmer (Northamptonshire)

Attendance: 19,665.