Thursday 14 December 2017

Wickham's 'presence' has Keane purring

Ipswich 2
Cardiff 0

Neil Trainis

Having started the season in eye-catching fashion, these two teams were flailing in a swamp of mediocrity before calamity proved decisive.

The honours went to Ipswich, but there was no reason to rejoice in football in its purest terms, even if something remarkable did shunt this contest towards the hosts.

Severe negligence was to capture the attention more than anything the players produced. Cardiff's Adam Matthews (18) may fail to comprehend why, under no pressure, he headed the impressive Carlos Edwards' cross into his own net.

Jason Scotland, an astute arrival from Wigan, heaped further ignominy on Matthews, powering past him and ramming in a second.

Portman Road was the scene for obduracy and endeavour rather than outstanding football. That may not be fatal to promotion aspirations, but there was the sense that both sides lack the creativity to decide a tight encounter.

There were extenuating circumstances for Cardiff. A knee injury kept out Craig Bellamy, whose guile and movement does not reside within an unfit Jay Bothroyd, Andy Keogh and Chris Burke. Cardiff were stranded in the rigidity from which manager Dave Jones seeks to escape.

Ingenuity did not grace Ipswich either. Connor Wickham, the precocious teenager given his first start of the season, discovered that Championship defending is more robust than in an England U-17 match. In the first half, liberated by Andros Townsend's pass, he got the wrong side off Gabor Gyepes, but hesitation allowed the defender to challenge.

"Presence is a good word. He gives us something. His general play was very good," Roy Keane suggested.

Frustration, however, gripped Wickham, who was booked for a late tackle on Lee Naylor with half-time approaching. In the second half Gyepes was his nemesis again, blocking his shot. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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