Cardiff City – Mind The Gap
In October, Cardiff City visited Portman Road coming away with all three points, thanks to two goals from Heidar Helguson; however, Cardiff had not completed a league double over the Ipswich Town since 1947.
After a successful Christmas period, it was a meeting of two of the Championships in-form teams in what historically is an intriguing and often confounding and confused contest. The Tractor Boys started with their two new signings McGoldrick and Mclean up front meaning former Cardiff City forward and Bluebird favourite Michael Chopra was consigned to a place on the bench.
The pattern of the match was set with long range efforts missing the target, mere flashes of play in a boring lacklustre encounter where The Bluebirds failed to get into top gear, playing for the most part without any fire and passion. Bellamy aside who undoubtedly once again was the star player for The Bluebirds, his work rate earned him many rounds of applause against Ipswich, but in the end he was reduced to trying too hard to make up for some poor performances around him.
Play was stopped whilst Town’s Aaron McLean received treatment and former Bluebird striker and fans favourite Michael Chopra received the nod to warm up, grinning as he did so his grin broadened when he received a very positive reception from the home support and he duly obliged The Bluebird supporters with a quick Ayatollah to a massive cheer from the Home fans, not much else got them excited.
After the restart Bellamy’s continued to hound the Ipswich players forcing them to go as far back as goalkeeper Scott Loach rather than conceding possession to him. City looked comfortable on the ball, without really posing any serious threats, an Aron Gunnarsson long throw was met by City captain Mark Hudson, but the centre back’s header sailed over the bar.
Out of the blue Guirane N’Daw unleashed a raking drive from thirty yards out that ricocheted off Marshall’s right post, giving the home team a warning, that Ipswich were starting to find their way in the game but they were unable to sustain any 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 in the centre of the pitch, thirty yards out, but N’Daw drilled it straight at the wall, Mark Hudson’s clearing header was miscued and went backwards, McGoldrick found himself with the ball one-on-one with Marshall, but the chance was at an awkward angle and the Town striker hit the chance wide.
Cardiff then created their best chance so far, Bellamy laid the ball off to Craig Conway who put a low cross in, before ghosting into the box. The ball bounced around as Ipswich failed to clear, it fell again to Conway, who drilled a first time shot over the bar.
Ipswich broke on the counter attack, Turner was penalised for a high foot, and the resulting Ipswich free kick was a well drilled set piece, three players exchanging passes before Lee Martin hit in an out-swinging shot that fell just wide of the Cardiff goal.
It was end to stuff but dull with it the final pass going astray far too often.
An Ipswich throw in deep in their own half was won by Matt Connolly, his hopeful punt forward resulted in the ball finding Conway, who was felled by N’Daw. Whittingham powered the long range free kick toward the near post, it whistled by the post the Ipswich ‘keeper beaten.
Cardiff made a half time substitution: Joe Mason coming on for Rudy Gestede, but it was Ipswich that had the first chance after the break, a free kick into the far post, but no one made contact with it resulting in Cardiff winning a goal kick. Noone got on the end of Marshall’s kick and played Bellamy through with an intelligent chipped ball, his shot at goal was hoofed away by an Ipswich boot for a throw.
Bellamy’s fantastic 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, but again the final touch was missing and it came to nothing.
Then Ipswich made the Substitution the Bluebird faithful didn’t want to see bringing on: Michael Chopra.
Chopra’s appearance coincided with Ipswich’s best spell of possession, but like City the final ball was missing.
Ipswich brought on Daryl Murphy, while Cardiff changed Tommy Smith on for Craig Noone. Meaning there was now a Tommy Smith on for each team.
Cardiff’s Tommy Smith was playing his first game for over three months, he received a warm round of applause from the home supporters, Bellamy was still all over the pitch racing back sixty yards to dispossess Chopra.
Conway skipped past two players before driving the ball towards goal, but it was blocked by the Ipswich defence. Cardiff was failing to test Loach in the Tractor Boys’ goal.
Chopra then conceded a free kick twenty yards out for a foul on Conway, to Loach’s left, and Whittingham stood over the ball he let fly his free kick hit the wall, it fell kindly to Conway who crossed to Aron Gunnarsson, but the Icelandic international floated his header just over the crossbar.
Carlos Edwards was allowed to run into the Cardiff box, but his shot was deflected by Turner, Ipswich were in no hurry to take the corner. The delivery was good, it caused Cardiff to flap and panic before Chopra hit it over the bar.
Bradley Orr was booked for a foul on Bellamy, who drilled the free kick in, winning a corner. Cardiff’s number was almost up, maybe this was the last throw of the dice The Cardiff City supporters could only hope, Bellamy took the corner and delivered a sweet ball in, but yet again Cardiff failed to get on the end an Ipswich defender getting the final touch, this time Whittingham took the corner. Loach palmed the ball away, a minute later Town 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. As snow started to fall the referee blew up, for the first goalless encounter this season at Cardiff City Stadium. Boring, lacklustre and frustrating it may have been, but the point ensured that The Bluebirds would stay ten points clear of third placed Leicester.