Match report: Ipswich Town 0 Cardiff City 0 – Blues held to fourth successive home draw

David McGoldrick is fouled by Sean Morrison during the Ipswich Town v Cardiff City (Championship) m

David McGoldrick is fouled by Sean Morrison during the Ipswich Town v Cardiff City (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 31 October 2015. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town are now winless in seven matches following a forgettable goalless home draw with Cardiff City.

The Blues were undoubtedly back to their defensive best, but once again there was little spark in the final third and striker Daryl Murphy – yet to score this season following his 27-goal heroics in 2014/15 – is clearly lacking in confidence.

Mick McCarthy’s men had the joint-best home record in the Championship last season but have now drawn four in a row at Portman Road ahead of Tuesday night’s visit of second-bottom Bolton. One win in 10 league matches has seen them drop to 14th in the table.

For Cardiff it was a fourth consecutive clean sheet and a third goalless draw in four matches. The Welsh side have lost just four of their last 24 league matches when you take into account the back end of last season.

In a game of few clear cut chances, Town had the best two openings – away keeper David Marshall turning a Murphy header onto the bar and preventing Sean Morrison from scoring an own goal in the first half. Twice Murphy was sent racing in the box but on both occasions he tried to take too many touches rather than shoot.

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McCarthy made just one enforced change to his team following a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, replacing injured left-back Jonas Knudsen with Jonathan Parr. There were two changes for Cardiff, following their goalless home draw with Bristol City, with Joe Ralls in for the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi and Sammy Ameobi replacing Craig Noone on the wing.

It was the visitors who started on the front foot, but Town’s defence stood firm and centre-backs Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith were always in the right place at the right time to make vital blocks and interceptions.

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Gradually the Blues – whose fans chanted the name of manager Mick McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor – got going and it required two fine stops from away keeper David Marshall to keep the scores level.

First, in the 15th minute, he showed excellent reactions to push Daryl Murphy’s thumping header onto the face of the crossbar following Kevin Bru’s wicked corner delivery.

Then, in the 27th minute, it was probably a case of more luck then judgement as the Bluebirds’ skipper prevented Sean Morrison turning the ball into his own net after the defender had slid into try and cut out Freddie Sears’ low cross into the six-yard box.

In between that home custodian Dean Gerken had to be alert to turn Aron Gunnarsson’s fierce shot around the post.

With the crowd livened up by Town’s high energy pressing, Town attempted to turn the screw but were unable to produce the final pass or shot at the vital moment.

Sears’ driving run from the halfway line drew a desperate foul from Connolly only for David McGoldrick to drag a tame shot wide after Cole Skuse had rolled the free-kick to him.

And when McGoldrick sent Murphy racing into the box with a through pass the Irishman opted to try and cut inside rather than hit an angled shot, Connolly getting in the way. It was perhaps a sign of the lack of the striker’s lack confidence this season.

It was a cagey start to the second half by both teams. At one end Berra made another vital block, at the other Scott Malone’s searching low cross somehow evaded everyone in the box.

Again the teams traded half chances either side of the hour mark, Gerken holding onto Ameobi’s hooked effort and Murphy’s looping header dropping onto the roof of the net.

And it wasn’t until the 72nd minute that either side threatened again, Maitland-Niles, who was always on the stretch, guiding the ball over the bar following Murphy’s cross from the left. For Cardiff, Gunnarsson shot well wide on the angle.

Murphy – who is yet to score this season following his 27-goal exploits of 2014/15 – again lacked confidence in the 77th minute after Chambers’ well-weighted pass. Just like earlier in the match, the Irishman chose to try and dribble into a crowded area than take a shot.

Cardiff were getting the odd moment of joy down their left side and Town were fortunate that substitute Craig Noone got his stooping far post header all wrong following Malone’s deep delivery.

There was a moment of controversy in the 79th minute when Kevin Bru was booked for simulation in the box. Connolly’s sliding tackle was rash, but Town’s midfield man did go down dramatically.

Altogether referee David Coote booked eight players – five for Cardiff, three for Ipswich – with the game never really gaining any momentum or flow.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Parr; Skuse, Maitland-Niles (Oar 81), Bru; Sears, McGoldrick, Murphy (Pitman 81).

Unused subs: Bialkowski, Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Coke, Douglas.

Booked: Smith (45), Bru (79), Skuse (87).

CARDIFF CITY (4-4-2): Marshall (cpt); Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Fabio (Malone 31); Ameobi (Noone 75), Gunnarsson, Whittingham (Pilkington 88), Ralls; Mason, Revell.

Unused subs: Moore, Tamas, O’Keefe, Kennedy.

Booked: Ameobi (11), Connolly (34), Ralls (43), Revell (82), Whittingham (85).

Attendance: 17,169 (222 away)

Referee: David Coote.

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