Report: Cardiff City 3 Ipswich Town 1 – Second-half collapse leaves Blues looking nervously over shoulders
Ipswich Town are now just five points above the Championship relegation zone following today’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff City.
The Blues led through Luke Chambers’ headed finish (23), but were pegged back by Kenneth Zohore’s expert volley (36).
Town shot themselves in the foot five minutes after the restart when they failed to track the run of Zohore and the big Danish striker coolly converted his ninth goal in 10 games
Mick McCarthy had switched to a 4-4-2 system at the break, but it did little to stop the threat of pacey wide man Kadeem Harris. The latter’s lightening run led to Joe Bennett’s killer third in the 63rd minute.
Ipswich have now claimed just 14 points from a possible 42 in 2017. They slip to 17th in the Championship table and are now just five points above the drop zone. It looks like seven teams are battling to avoid 22nd spot and Town have recorded the fewest wins from the last 10 games out of that pack.
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Following next weekend’s international break they face high-pressure home games against Birmingham and Wigan.
Cardiff started on the front foot and very quickly it became apparent that the direct-running of Harris, Junior Hoilett and Craig Noone would be a feature of their play. Inside the opening five minutes, Bartosz Bialkowski did well to turn Peter Whittingham’s low free-kick around the post, while Zohore fired over the bar on the half-turn.
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It was Ipswich who created the game’s first real opening though when, in the ninth minute, they launched a lightening counter-attack after defending a cross free-kick. David McGoldrick set Tom Lawrence racing away, his low cross was inch-perfect, but Grant Ward fired straight at keeper Allan McGregor from just six yards out.
The Blues increasingly got a foothold in the game and, with Tommy Smith looking very composed on the ball at the back, some patient passing saw them grow in confidence.
Town duly broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute after Cole Skuse’s fine pass and Jordan Spence’s perseverance led to a free-kick by the corner flag. Lawrence’s whipped delivery was expertly nodded back across goal and into the net at the far post by Chambers.
Cardiff responded and Bialkowski did well to keep Joe Bennett’s curling free-kick out of the top corner after yet another direct Harris run. Moments later, Chambers did well to race back and put off Zohore in the box with a lunging block.
The Bluebirds drew level in the 36th minute. Noone was fouled by Jonas Knudsen, the free-kick was taken quickly and Jazz Richards’ cross was nodded back across goal by the towering Sean Morrison. There was still work to do, but the in-form Zohore did superbly to adjust and emphatically convert with a crisp, low volley.
The hosts finished the half on top. Hoilett smashed a shot against the post after Aron Gunnarsson’s direct run and low cross, while Gunnarsson also lashed over from a good position.
Mick McCarthy replaced defender Smith with striker Brett Pitman at the break, switching to a 4-4-2 system.
Town shot themselves in foot at the start of the second half. McGoldrick miscued his shot, after Christophe Berra headed Lawrence’s free-kick delivery back across goal, and Cardiff scored from the subsequent goalkick.
Zohore flicked on the long ball, Harris provided a clever backheel and Zohore raced into the space to coolly finish. Chambers was guilty of stopping in expectancy of an offside flag.
Cardiff’s killer third arrived in the 63rd minute. Harris blazed past Skuse on the by-line, cut the ball back and left-back Bennett caressed a fine side-footed finish into the far side of the net.
The shoulders of the Blues players slumped and Cardiff pushed for more goals. It wasn’t long before the ‘oles’ started.
Winger Danny Rowe – making his debut following a January switch from Macclesfield – and striker Freddie Sears did liven the Blues up after stepping off the bench, but it was too little, too late.
Defender Sol Bamba was imperious and provided a fine block on Pitman, while Sean Morrison flung himself in the way of a Pitman chance towards the end too.
Zohore and Harris both left the field to standing ovations.
CARDIFF CITY (4-4-1-1): McGregor; Richards, Morrison (cpt), Bamba, Bennett; Noone (Halford 79), Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Harris (John 90+); Hoilett; Zohore (Pilkington 83).
Unused subs: Murphy, Manga, Lambert, Meite.
IPSWICH TOWN (3-5-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith (Pitman 46); Spence, Ward, Skuse, Diagouraga (Rowe 79), Knudsen; McGoldrick (Sears 79), Lawrence.
Unused subs: Gerken, Digby, Kenlock, Bru.
Booked: Berra (53), Pitman (68)
Referee: James Linington