CITY & TOWN PLAY OUT STALEMATE
Snapshot: Cardiff City were held to a goalless draw by Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon in horrendous weather conditions at Cardiff City Stadium. But nonetheless, the point extended our lead at the top of the nPower Championship, moving us ten points clear of Leicester in third. Aron Gunnarsson had the best opportunity of the match midway through the second half only to see his bullet header scale the crossbar. For Ipswich, substitute Frank Nouble may have grabbed an away victory in second half stoppage time had he better directed his cross-goal effort.
Chronological report: With both Malky Mackay and Mick McCarthy nominated for the manager of the month award after enjoying successful christmas periods, two of the form teams in the Championship met in what has become an intriguing contest in recent years. Last October, Cardiff City came away from Portman Road with all three points, courtesy of a Heidar Helguson brace; however, Cardiff had not completed a league double over the Tractor Boys since 1947. New signings McGoldrick and Mclean both start up front for Town, with ex-Cardiff City forward Michael Chopra on the bench.
Cardiff City kicked off attacking the Grange End, with Lee Martin immediately giving away a free kick for a foul on Craig Noone. Thirty five yards out, Peter Whittingham and Craig Bellamy stood over the ball, Bellamy drilling across to win a corner. Bellamy again took the set piece, but it was well defended by Town.
Rudy Gestede showed his aerial ability winning a battle against Luke Chambers, before play was stopped whilst Aaron McLean received treatment. Chopra received a warm reception from the home support as he warmed up, and Bellamy's work rate earned him a round of applause, forcing Ipswich to go as far back as goalkeeper Scott Loach before conceding possession. City were looking comfortable on the ball, and an Aron Gunnarsson long throw was met by captain Mark Hudson, but the centre back's header sailed over the bar.
On the fourteen minute mark, Guirane N'Daw sent an excellent rasping drive out of the blue from thirty yards out that ricocheted off Marshall's right post, giving the home team a warning. Ipswich were starting to get a foothold on the game, without keeping up any sustained pressure. Taylor and Conway combined excellently on the left, Taylor whipping the ball in toward Gestede, who did well to direct his header toward goal. Loach collected under pressure from Noone, playing the ball directly up field. Ipswich then won a free kick the centre of the pitch, thirty yards out, but N'Daw drilled it straight at the wall. McGoldrick was then left one-on-one with Marshall after a Hudson header could only go backwards, but the chance was at an awkward angle and the Town striker hit the chance wide.
Cardiff then created their best chance so far, with Bellamy laying off Conway, who put a low cross in before drifting into the box. As the ball bounced around, it fell again to Conway, who drilled a first time shot over the bar. Ipswich were combining well on the counter, but the Cardiff defence were equal to it. Turner was then penalised for a high foot, and the resultant Town free kick was something born on the training ground, three players exchanging passes before Lee Martin hit an out-swinging shot that fell wide of the Cardiff goal.
Noone played a pass back to Gunnarsson, who after exchanging passes with Bellamy played a good ball over the top back to Noone. The winger skipped past Ipswich's Tommy Smith, putting in a testing delivery in that Loach failed to grasp, forcing the Tractor Boys' defence to concede a corner. The in-swinging ball by Craig Bellamy was headed away, but Cardiff were now applying consistent pressure, and after a neat exchange on the left Whittingham delivered a low, early cross to the far post that Noone was feet away from meeting.
An Ipswich throw in deep in their half was won by Matt Connolly, and the ball fell to Conway, who was felled by N'Daw. Whittingham powered the long range free kick toward the near post, but it fell the wrong side. Cresswell put an early ball into the Cardiff box a minute later, but Ipswich had nobody to meet it. Conway was then felled again on the left, Bellamy whipping the ball in, and the Ipswich defence under pressure nearly headed into their own net. Whittingham put the best corner of the day so far in, but somehow no City player was able to direct it toward goal.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0 – 0 IPSWICH TOWN
Substitution Cardiff: Joe Mason on for Rudy Gestede (Half Time)
Ipswich were first to create after the break, sending a free kick to the far post, but Town failed to attack the ball, Cardiff winning a goal kick. Noone played Bellamy through with an intelligent chipped ball, Town forced into conceding a corner, and an Aron Gunnarsson long throw was kept well by the home side. Moving the ball back across the pitch, Bellamy was then released, but a fantastic tackle from Chambers denied the striker at the last.
Bellamy's much lauded work rate again gained Cardiff an opportunity when he chased down a Hudson long ball, beating Ipswich for pace before his low cross was deflected by Ipswich's Tommy Smith for a corner. The ensuing twelve yard pinball was eventually collected by Loach. Keeping the pressure up, Noone lofted a cross to the far post, Turner's flicked header falling wide as the rain started to pour. Marshall did well to punch away an Ipswich free kick, and two minutes later Cardiff's two wingers combined. Noone nutmegged N'Daw, playing a fantastic ball to Conway, the winger's cross earning a corner.
Substitution Ipswich: Michael Chopra on for (60 mins)
Michael Chopra's return coincided with a spell of Ipswich possession, but it wasn't long before Cardiff were again on the attack. Gunnarsson played a good ball in to Conway, who headed over, and Cardiff were again in control, mainly threatening from high balls into the box. Bellamy's partnership with Mason had resulted in more on the floor football, but Cardiff so far couldn't find the killer ball.
Substitution Ipswich: Daryl Murphy on for (64 mins)
Substitution Cardiff: Tommy Smith on for Craig Noone (67 mins)
Tommy Smith, playing his first game for over three months, was met with a round of applause by the home support, as Bellamy raced back sixty yards to dispossess Chopra. With twenty minutes to go, Conway skipped past two players before driving the ball towards goal, but it was blocked by the Ipswich defence. Cardiff were enjoying the lions share of the ball, but were failing to test Loach in the Tractor Boys' goal. Smith showed his quality on the ball deep into the Ipswich half, winning a throw in. Gunnarsson took it short, before receiving it and sending in a deflected cross that Loach had to tip over the bar.
Chopra then conceded a free kick twenty yards out for a foul on Conway, to Loach's left, and Whittingham stood over patiently as the referee moved the Ipswich wall back. The Cardiff playmaker's free kick hit the wall, before falling to Conway who crossed into AronGunnarsson. The Icelandic international could not get his header on target, the ball floating just over the crossbar. Mason was then played in by Gunnarsson with the goal at his mercy, but the flag was raised on what would surely have been a goal.
Substitution Ipswich: Frank Nouble on for Lee Martin (80 mins)
Carlos Edwards was allowed to run into the Cardiff box, but his shot was deflected by Turner, and Ipswich in no hurry to take the corner. The delivery was good, causing Cardiff problems before hit it over the bar. Ipswich then caught Cardiff on the break, winning another corner, but Cardiff defended well, releasing Conway who made it into the Tractor Boys' half before running the ball out of play.
Substitution Cardiff: Heidar Helguson on for Craig Conway (86 mins)
Nouble drilled in a good cross that Marshall palmed away, and Cardiff broke but Tommy Smith's pass was too short. With three minutes of added time, City were running out of opportunities to take three points, whilst Ipswich were happy to absorb the pressure and hit Cardiff on the break.
Bradley Orr was booked for a foul on Bellamy, who drilled the free kick in, winning a corner. Cardiff's number 39 delivered the ball, and again Cardiff won a corner, this time Whittingham on duty. Loach palmed away as Ipswich held on, and a minute later they nearly made Cardiff pay; Nouble's quick feet beat Hudson, but his shot fell wide of the far post, much to the home crowd's relief. Cardiff's time was up, and as snow started to fall the referee blew for the first goalless encounter this season at Cardiff City Stadium. But the point ensured that City would stay ten points clear of third placed Leicester, regardless of how other teams would fare.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-0 IPSWICH TOWN