Report: Blackburn Rovers 0 Ipswich Town 0 – Blues draw a fifth successive blank
Ipswich Town drew a blank for the fifth consecutive game as they were held to a goalless draw at fellow Championship strugglers Blackburn Rovers this afternoon.
Unlike in previous games, Town did at least provide an attacking threat but a combination of keeper Jason Steele and some proligacy means Mick McCarthy’s men go into Tuesday night’s home game against Burton having now gone more than eight hours without scoring.
Man-of-the-match Steele produced a point-blank stop from Adam Webster’s header in the 22nd minute, while Luke Chambers glanced a good chance wide from another corner. The Blues have now failed to score a first half goal in 30 of their 37 games this calender year.
The second half was largely a non-event, although ex-Rovers Tom Lawrence missed a good chance, meaning the 564 travelling fans faced a frustrating journey home from Lancashire.
On a positive, Town never looked like conceding and have now kept four clean sheets in their last six games. The binary code nature of their scorelines this season doesn’t exactly inspire or excite though. It certainly won’t boost the midweek gate at Portman Road.
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McCarthy made two changes to the team which lost 1-0 at home to Huddersfield prior to the international break. The fit-again Adam Webster replaced Josh Emmnuel, with skipper Luke Chambers returning to right-back, while Freddie Sears came in for Kevin Bru. That meant a switch to a 4-4-2 system, Sears up front alongside Leon Best, as McCarthy matched up the home side’s formation.
After a quite start to the match, Ipswich – led by the outstanding Webster – stepped up the gears and looked the far more threatening team in the opening period.
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It was Webster’s sumptuous switch from deep that led to the first of several corners for the away team and, with Tom Lawrence’s set-piece delivery back to the high standard he showed on his debut, McCarthy’s men created plenty of problems for the beleaguered hosts.
Town’s first chance came from open play, however, after the hard-working Sears robbed Ben Marshall of possession on the blindside and set-up Grant Ward for a shot, his effort from the edge of the box unconvincingly parried by keeper Jason Steele.
Danny Guthrie dragged a shot wide from long-range, while Luke Chambers recovered well in his own box to tackle Martin Samuelsen after the West Ham loanee winger had trciked his way to the by-line.
It was a Samuelsen mistake which led to Town cranking up the pressure. He missed a low cross from Leon Best completely and Chambers’ snap-shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Chambers lost his marker but glanced his header well wide.
The Blues best chance of the half arrived in the 22nd minute when another Lawrence corner caused chaos. The first aerial challenge saw the ball pop loose, Best flicked a header forwards and Webster’s powerful close-range header was clawed out from under the bar superbly by Steele.
A marauding run from Webster in the final third took him past two defenders before Lawrence dragged a shot wide. Webster was at it again five minutes later, his run and pass ending with a tame Lawrence effort comfortably saved.
Blackburn had barely got out of their own half, but they improved in the final 10 minutes of the half. Southampton loanee striker Sam Gallagher headed over after Derrick Williams’ cross came at him with pace, while Jonathan Douglas did well to intervene following a sharp interchange of passes between Marshall, Samuelsen and Marvin Emnes.
It was Douglas’ hesitancy which led to Guthrie’s well-struck shot from range fizzing over the bar in the final action of the half.
Ipswich have now failed to score a first half goal in 30 of their 37 matches this calendar year.
Blackburn were forced into a change at the break as Scottish centre-back and skipper for the day Gordon Greer, in the absence of the suspended Jason Lowe, went off injured. With no centre-backs on the bench, it meant that Darragh Lenihan – usually a central midfielder – had to come on and fulfil that role.
A hugely sedate 15 minutes ensued before Best’s turn and angled near post shot was turned behind on the hour mark.
Marshall then resorted to taking a highly-ambitious shot from almost 40 yards out for the home side as the second period continued to be a complete non-event.
Best put a difficult far post header over from Ward’s cross, while a Ward cross was scrambled clear. They had been half-chances at best, but Ipswich were presented with a golden opening in the 74th minute.
Craig Conway inexplicably crossed the ball into his own box, allowing Sears to get away an angled shot which keeper Steele could only parry at his near post. Jonas Knudsen pulled the ball back, but Lawrence couldn’t get clean contact on his shot from close-range.
Teddy Bishop replaced Ward and Ipswich looked to step up a gear. Bishop – playing on the right – had a driving run inside but was eventually crowded out in the box. Moments later, after a fine Douglas chest-off, Knudsen rifled an angled long-range effort wide.
BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Steele; Marshall, Greer (Lenihan 46), Hoban, Williams; Samuelsen (Bennett 62), Guthrie, Evans (Akpan 72), Conway (cpt); Emnes, Gallagher.
Unused subs: Raya, Mulgrew, Feeney, Stokes.
Booked: Gallagher (87)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward (Bishop 75), Skuse, Douglas, Lawrence (Williams 85); Best, Sears.
Unused subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Grant, Bru.
Attendance: 10,820 (564 away)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham