Match report: Ipswich Town 0 QPR 0 – Late penalty appeals waved away in tame draw

Joe Garner appeals for a handball by Jack Robinson in the 90th minute. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Joe Garner appeals for a handball by Jack Robinson in the 90th minute. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town had strong late penalty appeals turned down in a tame goalless Boxing Day draw with QPR at Portman Road.

Jack Robinson handles the ball from a Joe Garner header in the 90th minute. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Jack Robinson handles the ball from a Joe Garner header in the 90th minute. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

A much-changed Blues side struggled to find any sort of attacking fluidity, but should have been awarded a get out of jail free card in the last minute when Joe Garner’s powerful header struck the outstretched arm of Jack Robinson in the box.

Struggling QPR, who have won just once on their travels all season, had posed the greater threat in the first half. The second half then drifted as unforced errors from both sides and referee Andy Davies’ whistle prevented any flow.

Visiting midfielder Josh Scowen was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 86th minute to finally liven up the crowd, but this match will not live long in the memory.

Town remain 10th in the Championship table but are now five points adrift of the play-off places ahead of Saturday’s visit of high-flying Derby.

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Blues boss Mick McCarthy – who is currently without seven injured central midfielders – made five changes to his team following Saturday’s narrow 1-0 defeat at league-leaders Wolves.

Jordan Spence, Myles Kenlock, Kevin Bru, Grant Ward and Bersant Celina all dropped out, with Jonas Knudsen, fit again after illness, Dominic Iorfa, Teddy Bishop, David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears coming in.

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With four strikers in the team and Bishop in a deep midfield role, this was the most attack-minded Town team seen at Portman Road in some time. Unfortunately, they did not click offensively, while also looking vulnerable defensively.

McGoldrick, playing wide right, had an angled effort beaten behind early on. QPR grew into the game more and more though and soon had the Blues under the cosh for long spells.

Iorfa and Luke Chambers both made vital interventions inside their own area, there was a heart-in-mouth moment when Knudsen and Pawel Wszolek grappled in the box, then Bartosz Bialkowski had to be alert to tip over Jake Bidwell’s close-range header following Luke Freeman’s flighted free-kick delivery.

With former Town loanee Massimo Luongo pulling the strings in a midfield it was clear that the Blues missed the defensive cover of the injured Cole Skuse. Twice in as many minutes Adam Webster had to make last-ditch tackles in the area.

Bishop – making only his second senior start of 2017 – had been the one shining light in an otherwise disappointing start to the match, looking to drive at the opposition at any given opportunity.

It was therefore a bitter blow when the 21-year-old, who had endured two years of injury hell since that exciting breakthrough season of 2014/15, limped off in the 42nd minute seemingly on the verge of tears.

McGoldrick had curled a sumptuous left-footed effort just wide from 25-yards in the 33rd minute and Town livened up moments before the break.

McGoldrick’s through ball had set Sears scampering away, his low cross was dummied by Waghorn in the box and cleared just ahead of Joe Garner. Waghorn’s dangerous inswinging corner was somehow hacked away from near the goalline.

Moments later, in stoppage-time, Callum Connolly rode a tackle and stung the palms of keeper Alex Smithies from long-range.

QPR started the second period on the front foot, with Jordan Cousins’ cross flashing across the six-yard box and Chambers making a vital block on Luongo.

The game started to drift after this though. Iorfa showed strength and pace to get to the byline and cross, there was a marginal offside decision after Garner looked to put McGoldrick in the clear, while Sears glanced a Knudsen cross wide as Town struggled to find any rhythm.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon greeted the sight of substitute Bersant Celina replacing Sears in the 84th minute.

Moments later, QPR were reduced to 10 men when Josh Scowen received his second yellow card for blocking the run of Ward following a slick exchange of passes. Celina curled the subsequent free-kick just over the bar from the edge if the ‘D’.

A dull game burst to life in the final minute as both sides had penalty claims. First, Garner’s powerful header, following Celina’s run and cross, struck Robinson’s outstretched arm in the box.

At the other end, Iorfa stooped to deal with a cross and uncovincingly blocked with what the referee ruled was his chest.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Iorfa, Chambers (cpt), Webster, Knudsen; Bishop (Ward 42), Connolly; McGoldrick, Waghorn, Sears (Celina 84); Garner.

Unused subs: Crowe, Spence, Smith, Kenlock, McDonnell.

Booked: Knudsen (24)

QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Baptiste, Onuoha (cpt), Robinson; Wszolek, Scowen, Cousins (Osayi-Samuel 82), Luongo, Bidwell; Freeman, Sylla (Smith 80).

Unused subs: Lumley, Furlong, Hall, Chair, Washington.

Booked: Scowen (18, 86)

Red: Scowen (86)

Attendance: 18,696 (703 away)

Referee: Andy Davies

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