Report: Charlton Athletic 0 Ipswich Town 0 – Pitman twice hits bar in goalless draw

Skipper Luke Chambers appeals as Christophe Berra goes over in the box late in the Charlton Athletic

Skipper Luke Chambers appeals as Christophe Berra goes over in the box late in the Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town (Pre-season friendly) match at The Valley, London, on 26 July 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Brett Pitman twice struck the crossbar as Ipswich Town were held to a goalless pre-season draw at League One side Charlton Athletic last night.

Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had virtually nothing to do throughout and the visitors dominated possession, although not always creating in the final third.

Town skipper Luke Chambers then had two glorious headed chances in the final 10 minutes but put one wide and saw the other saved.

Having named mix and match sides in the first four games of pre-season, Blues boss Mick McCarthy named a far more senior team last night.

There was one surprise inclusion in his starting line-up, left-winger Roland Lamah playing as a triallist.

The 28-year-old was born in the Ivory Coast but has been capped five times by Belgium. Well travelled, his former clubs includes include Anderlecht (Belgium), Le Mans (France) and Osasuna (Spain), while he had a loan spell at Swansea in 2013/14 before most recently playing for Ferencváros in Hungary.

It became clear from the first whistle that Ipswich would try and dominate possession, but that new-look approach – McCarthy having said he wants his team to ‘mix it up’ more this season – is still very much work in progress.

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The Blues went close to breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute with a move that falls under the tried and trusted category. Chritophe Berra put the ball up the line, Jonas Knudsen cut it back from the by-line and Brett Pitman hit a sweet, first-time, side-footed effort against the face of the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Kevin Bru was constantly dropping deep and demanding the ball off the centre-backs as Town kept long balls to a minimum. McCarthy’s men were seeing a lot of the ball, but creating little when they reached the final third.

It was a Knudsen long throw which led to their next moment of attacking danger with Berra’s flick-on scrambled clear.

The passing out of the back strategy has its dangers, especially when neither centre-back is particularly comfortable on the ball, and Berra’s slack ball forwards went straight to Callum Harriott midway through the half. Knudsen was forced to commit a foul to prevent the mistake being punished.

The long-legged Lamah strode forwards with the ball for a good 50 yards before eventually running into traffic. In truth, he never looked fully in control. Moments later the wide man showed McCarthy he can ‘put in a shift’ by racing back and executing the perfect sliding block tackle on the edge of his own box.

Town’s best move of the half arrived just after the half hour. After a neat interchange involving Andre Dozzell, Lamah and Pitman in the final third, David McGoldrick left two defenders on the floor with a clever Cruyff-turn before lashing an angled shot over the bar.

Ipswich’s build-up play continued to look laboured until McCarthy made a triple change in the 56th minute – Teddy Bishop, Freddie Sears and Cameron Stewart replacing Dozzell, McGoldrick and Lamah.

Suddenly the Blues were playing with more intent in the final third and, after Knudsen’s low cross flashed across the area, Bishop’s shot through the crowd was only half saved by keeper Dillon Phillips. The ball was eventually scrambled clear.

Less than a minute later, Sears cut in from the left and stood up a cross which Pitman headed against the top of the bar with the keeper beaten.

Town’s tempo dropped again, but they created their best chance of the game in the 81st minute when Stewart’s fine diagonal delivery into the area picked out Chambers. Unfortunately Town’s skipper, seemingly wary of being clattered by the keeper, screwed his header wide.

It was the same combination in the 89th minute as Stewart once again picked out the advanced right-back with an inch-perfect cross from deep. This time Chambers made better contact with his close-range, but keeper Phillips tipped the ball over the bar.

Town’s pre-season campaign concludes with a home game against Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on Saturday (3pm ko).

CHARLTON ATH (4-1-4-1): Phillips; Solly (Hanlan 61), Konsa, Johnson, Fox; Crofts; Harriott (Ahearne-Grant 76), Foley (Thomas 85), Jackson (cpt) (Muldoon 66), Holmes (Lookman 71); Ajose (Ba 61).

Unused subs: Beeney, Holmes-Dennis.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Dozzell (Bishop 56), Douglas, Bru, Lamah (Stewart 56); McGoldrick (Sears 56), Pitman (Murphy 74).

Unused subs: Crowe, Digby, Webster, Kenlock, Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Skuse, Blanchfield, McLoughlin.

Attendance: 2,308 (333 away)

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