Match report: Ipswich Town 1 Cardiff City 1 – Town fail to capitalise on Sol Bamba’s mad moment

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and Sol Bamba argue on the touchline after the latter had been sen

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and Sol Bamba argue on the touchline after the latter had been sent off. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town had to settle for a point against 10-man Cardiff City at Portman Road after failing to capitalise on Sol Bamba’s mad moment.

Luke Varney celebrates after levelling the score at 1-1 in the Ipswich Town v Cardiff City (Sky Bet

Luke Varney celebrates after levelling the score at 1-1 in the Ipswich Town v Cardiff City (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 10 December 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Bartosz Bialkowski’s dropped catch gifted Aron Gunnarsson a 38th minute opener, but Luke Varney levelled things up seven minutes after the restart.

The moment that this game will forever be remembered for arrived in the 70th minute when Bluebirds defender Bamba had a bizarre fit of rage after being on the end of a late Jonathan Douglas tackle. He shoved his own physio to the floor, aggressively confronted the fourth official and, after being shown the red card, grappled with his own manager, Neil Warnock, for a prolonged spell on the sidelined.

Ipswich failed to create much again 10-men in the remaining 20 minutes though and Cardiff, in the relegation zone, had three good chances to snatch the win in stoppage-time.

Town drop to 17th in the Championship table ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Birmingham. Ipswich have won just two of their last eight home games and, not for the first time this year, left the field to boos.

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Blues boss Mick McCarthy named an unchanged starting XI for the second successive game following the 3-0 home win over QPR and subsequent 2-0 loss at Bristol City. The fit-again duo of Teddy Bishop and Brett Pitman replaced Myles Kenlock and Leon Best on the bench.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock had spoken about a sickness bug sweeping through his camp in the build-up, but there were no enforced absentees. Fit-again striker Rickie Lambert and right-back Lee Peltier, available again after suspension, returned to the team at the expense of Joe Ralls and Frederic Gounange.

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The Blues made several unforced errors in the opening exchanges as long balls from Adam Webster and Cole Skuse went straight into touch. Then, with less than four minutes on the clock, Aron Gunnarsson’s sweetly struck volley from 25-yards struck the base of the post, although keeper Bialkowski looked to have the effort covered.

Tom Lawrence’s direct running was the only real positive for Town in a forgettable first half played during relentless rain. His mazy dribble took him past four Cardiff players, with the subsequent diagonal cross headed back across goal by Luke Chambers. Keeper Ben Amos dropped the ball under no pressure but just about recovered in time to block Lawrence’s effort behind for a corner.

Some patient passing by the Blues ended with Chambers’ cross fizzing across the box in the 17th minute, but the atmosphere inside Portman Road felt more like a reserve game and the tempo of the play reflected that.

Bialkowski beat away a Gunnarsson shot and then, seconds later, bravely punched a dangerous cross away before getting clattered by Lambert.

Another driving Lawrence run from deep again caused havoc in the cardiff defence on the half hour mark. He left Matthew Connolly on his backside in the box before a cross was blocked.

Cardiff counter-attacked at pace and Gunnarsson, again not afraid to have a pop, shot well over from long-range.

David McGoldrick then started coming to the fore with some clever movement. His smart swivel won a free-kick on the edge of the area nad, after it was quickly taken short, the striker’s long-range strike was well-held by Amos.

Moments later, after Luke Varney’s flick, McGoldrick’s improvised sliced volley faded just past the far post.

Ipswich were growing into the game and Webster burst out of the back with the ball at his feet before finding the forward-running Cole Skuse. The latter’s long-range effort was well-blocked by the lunging Sean Morrison.

Cardiff’s 38th minute opener therefore came against the run of play – and it was a gift. Bialkowski got two good hands onto a high Peter Whittingham corner but inexplicably dropped the ball to allow Gunnarsson to stab home from close-range.

Moments later, Bialkowski produced a very unconvincing punch clear from another Whittingham corner.

A melancholic rendition of ‘Noel’ by a brass band did little to raise the spirits as the rain continued to fall relentlessly at half-time. The accompanying use of cheerleaders was simply bizarre.

The mood was instantly lifted when Town equalised less than seven minutes after the restart. Again, it was a driving Lawrence run which got things going. That led to a Webster cut-back and Varney’s on-target shot from near the penalty spot couldn’t be kept out by the head of Gunnarsson.

Varney sprinted to the dug-outs to celebrate with physio Matt Byard, the man who helped him recover from Achilles surgery after the 2014/15 play-offs.

Town were getting the ball to the livewire Lawrence at every available opportunity. Another direct run from the Leicester loanee led to weak penalty appeals when he went shoulder to shoulder with Morrison in the box. Soon afterwards, his run and pass led to Grant Ward firing just wide.

Cardiff sub Craig Noone drifted inside and fired just wide to offer a reminder of Cardiff’s threat before the moment which this game will forever be remembered for.

Bluebirds defender Bamba stayed down apparently injured after a late challenge by Jonathan Douglas in the middle of the pitch. The referee played advantage before Whittingham eventually kicked the ball out of play so his team-mate could receive treatment.

When the Cardiff physio reached him to give treatment, Bamba snapped and shoved the off-balance physio to the ground, Irate, he charged in the direction of Douglas and McGoldrick intervened to act peacemaker.

Bamba was told to leave the field, would not be calmed and aggressively confronted the fourth official as manager. Referee James Adcock showed the red card and Bamba then wrestled with how own manager, Warnock, for a prolonged spell before finally heading for the tunnel.

McCarthy immediately brought on Freddie Sears and Pitman, with Bishop introduced soon afterwards. Town huffed and puffed in attack though as Jonas Knudsen over-hit a cross from a golden position and McGoldrick wasted a free-kick on the edge of the area.

Cardiff then finished the stronger and had three good chances in stoppage-time.

First, Morrison’s far post header was kept out by the diving Bialkowski. Then, following a long throw, Bruno Manga’s goalbound drive was superbly blocked by the lunging Christophe Berra. And there was still time for Noone to shoot just wide after drifting inside from the wing.

Not for the first time in 2016, Town’s players left the Portman Road pitch to boos.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward (Sears 72), Skuse, Douglas (Bishop 79), Lawrence; McGoldrick, Varney (Pitman 72).

Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Williams.

Booked: Lawrence (37), Chambers (90)

CARDIFF CITY (4-4-2): Amos; Peltier, Morrison (cpt), Bamba, Connolly, Bennett (Pilkington 57); Hoilett, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Harris (Noone 57); Lambert (Manga 73).

Unused subs: Wilson, Richardson, Ralls, Zohore.

Booked: Connolly (27), Gunnarsson (87), Pilkington (90), Hoilett (90)

Attendance: 15,042 (246 away)

Referee: James Adcock

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