Wigan Athletic 0-0 Ipswich Town: Blues lack creativity and invention in scrappy draw
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Ipswich Town never truly looked like scoring as the ultimately played out an ugly 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
In a game which saw Town boss Paul Cook make his first return to Wigan, where he came up against long-time assistant Leam Richardson on the touchline, the Ipswich manager won’t be happy with his side’s lack of creativity as they failed to find a way past relegation–threatened Athletic to drop further away from the promotion picture.
The Blues defended well enough, restricting their hosts to few chances of their own, but it’s in the final third where Cook has real work to do after watching his side huff and puff without being able to unpick the lock.
Striker James Norwood had a handful of half-chances, with the attacking three behind him lacking invention as he got little service from his attacking midfielders and the Ipswich wingers.
The draw sees Town drop to 11th in the table, sitting two points from the top six in what is a crowded race for positions in the end-of-season lottery.
Next up is a clash with Bristol Rovers at Portman Road on Good Friday.
Cook made two changes to the side which lost at Portsmouth a week ago, bringing Freddie Sears back into the side for the first time since the defeat at Gillingham while also giving Kane Vincent-Young a start following his appearance from the bench at Fratton Park.
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Wigan included former Town striker Will Keane in their XI, but it was the Town No.10, James Norwood, rather than the Latics’ who had the game’s first shot as the Ipswich forward sent a low shot straight at Jamie Jones from outside the box.
The game was played at frenetic pace and was end-to-end, though neither side was able to get on top and force the issue during the opening 15 minutes, with Gwion Edwards the next to have an effort on goal as he headed Alan Judge’s corner wide.
Town’s main route forward was looking for the ball over for top, where Norwood would look to either play it off first time or hold it up, with the striker challenging for one bouncing ball and being caught by on-rushing goalkeeper Jones. The Town man did reach the ball first, though, with his header dropping wide but winning a corner. Sadly Judge’s delivery sailed straight into Jones’ hands.
Wigan’s first real opening of the match needed an excellent Toto Nsiala intervention, as the defender slid in to make a superb block after former Town forward Keane had been slipped in, stopping his former team-mate's goal-bound shot.
The Blues ended the first half with a clever move down the right, which saw Edwards pop the ball inside for Vincent-Young, who crossed low to provide Sears with a chance which ended up being deflected wide.
Vincent-Young didn’t emerge for the second half, with Luke Woolfenden taking his place, as the hosts started the brighter and saw the best chance of the game come and go as Funso Ojo shot wide after being flicked in behind the Town defence by Keane.
Cook then turned to his bench again, introducing Kayden Jackson and Josh Harrop for Sears and Judge, with the first of those creating Town’s next opening as the No.9 cross deflected up in the air for Norwood to head tamely at goal.
The striker forced a reaction save from Jones after good work from Armando Dobra, soon after the youngster had replaced Edwards, as Town continued to grind away without being able to create clear-cut openings as the game drifted into the last 10 minutes.
But, as with the previous 80, there was no way through as the Blues had to settle for a point.
Wigan Athletic: Jones, Darikwa, Tilt, Johnston, Robinson, Ojo, Evans, Solomon-Otabor (Clough, 83), Keane (Dodoo, 88), Aasgaard (Gardner, 68), Lang
Subs: Evans, Whelan, Long, Perry
Ipswich Town: Holy; Vincent-Young (Woolfenden, 46), Nsiala, Chambers, Ward; Dozzell, Bishop; Edwards (Dobra, 71), Judge (Harrop, 60), Sears (Jackson, 60); Norwood
Subs: Cornell, Skuse, Hawkins