Long faces tell it all

THE long faces of the Ipswich players at the end told its own story.Although a point at promotion challengers Cardiff should be seen as a decent result, this actually felt like a loss because the Blues deserved to win.

By Derek Davis

Cardiff City 2 Ipswich Town 2

THE long faces of the Ipswich players at the end told its own story.

Although a point at promotion challengers Cardiff should be seen as a decent result, this actually felt like a loss because the Blues deserved to win.

This was on par with the display at Birmingham, which also ended in a draw, and 500 or so travelling Town fans could feel rightly proud of their side for the character and quality shown.

Twice they had to come from behind, the second time after Andy Hall gave a hotly-disputed penalty and Darren Purse, who had given City an early lead, tucked it away.

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Jon Macken had already equalised once and it needed another debatable penalty for Gary Roberts to secure a point.

But overall Ipswich had played well enough and created enough chances against an ordinary-looking City to claim all three points, although Town didn't get off to the best of starts.

Cardiff had gone more than seven hours without scoring, 472 minutes to be precise, but it took them just three minutes to find the net against Ipswich. A well-worked short corner between Kevin McNaughton and Michael Chopra, a clever block on Jason De Vos, and Darren Purse was free to hook in for City.

Worries that the Bluebirds were going to wreak havoc slowly evaporated as Ipswich got on top and were playing the better football.

Roberts, in particular, was giving City problems with his direct approach, supported well by Gavin Williams. The midfield four look a well-balanced unit that has undoubted quality and combine pace with precision once they have won the ball. They were helped in this by City's insistence on giving away possession too readily.

Early mistake apart, the back four looked solid, with Richard Naylor and De Vos handling Kevin Campbell's physical threat while Chopra looked out of sorts, although they weren't getting much in the way of service.

Once Ipswich got into their stride, City struggled to cope with the variety and swiftness of Town's attack.

De Vos headed a Williams cross just wide, Danny Haynes wasn't far away with a stooping header and turned provider with a pull-back that Williams fluffed. Owen Garvan nicked a post with a 25-yard screamer while Sylvain Legwinski and Dan Harding also got good shots in.

It was clear if Town kept up the pressure and quality they would score, and three minutes after the break they did just that.

Macken pounced after a Roberts corner fell to Williams but his shot was blocked and, in the melee that followed, the on-loan Crystal Palace striker hammered in.

It was just reward for Macken, who had been busy around the area and leading the line well. He has not enjoyed the best of times at Portman Road so far but this performance will give him, and the supporters, a lot more confidence.

Then came the controversial seven-minute spell with two penalties. Certainly the one awarded against De Vos was ludicrous after he and Steve Thompson both challenged for an aerial ball. The Scot was caught in the face but the referee pointed to a free-kick outside the box while the linesman Steve Barrow rightly indicated the incident was inside the area. Purse's finish was emphatic as he sent Lewis Price the wrong way.

The referee told players he probably would not have given a penalty and so didn't need much convincing to give Town a spot-kick when Roberts appeared to go over Chris Gunter's outstretched leg in the City box. Poor old Danny Haynes was again thwarted in his attempt to grab the ball and Roberts confidently converted, with Neil Alexander going in the opposite direction.

Ipswich did have the chance to win it late on after more good work from Macken, who slipped a ball in for Matt Richards, but he could not get his left foot around the ball for a clean connection.

With strugglers Leeds at home on Saturday, Ipswich have a good chance to get more points in the bag as the busy, and vital, festive period gets into full swing.

The team looks like it is getting to full strength with Alan Lee returning, which could be a shame for Haynes, and with more recruits in January, Town could be ready to mount a serious assault on charging back up the table.

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