Ipswich 0-0 Portsmouth: Blues stretch unbeaten run to eight with battling Portman Road display that demonstrates new-found grit and determination

Pompey produced a battling performance to claim a vital point against big-spending Ipswich at Portman Road.

By Mark McMahon
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 5:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2022, 5:43 pm

The Blues once again displayed the character and grit that has gone down well with manager Danny Cowley in recent weeks as they kept their hosts – and their vast array of attacking talent – at bay to maintain their interest in the race for the play-offs.

The home side dominated possession but did little to test the capabilities of Blues keeper Gavin Bazunu.

And as the home fans grew frustrated, the 1,1986 supporters in the away end will have been delighted with what they saw from their side as they stretched their unbeaten run to eight games and kept the Tractor Boys to within two points of them with two games in hand.

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Pompey forward Ronan Curtis played his part in Pompey's goalless draw at Ipswich

Pompey are now seven points adrift of the top six – but are clearly heading in the right direction as they keep their recent momentum going.

The hosts started the stronger of the two play-off chasers as both Bersant Celina and Kayden Jackson let Pompey off the hook.

But the Blues slowly grew into the game and had chances of their own that perhaps could have handed them the advantage.

The recalled Aiden O’Brien fired over from close range on 22 minutes after superb work from Ronan Curtis.

And the Irishman will have been kicking himself again just moments later when he fired wide when gifted a golden opportunity by home defender by Luke Woolfenden.

Establishing themselves in the game, George Hirst then had a chance to fire Cowley’s side ahead just before the half-hour mark.

But just like his strike partner, he was unable to find a way past keeper Christian Walton, as his audacious chip from 25-yards out was comfortably gathered by the former Brighton man.

The Blues’ play will have been pleasing Cowley on the touchline, who was incensed when Louis Thompson’s challenge on Wes Burns saw him pick up a yellow card.

Yet the hosts handed the visitors a reminder of their quality as the first half approached a close, with Conor Chaplin taking aim from 30-yards out on 44 minutes, before Gavin Bazunu denied Kayden Jackson following a long ball forward – an effort that saw the striker pick up an injury and then replaced by Macauley Bonne.

With the home fans trying to play their part, Ipswich started the second half well, putting the Blues under pressure.

Burns and Celina both had chances – but nothing to have Bazunu sweating.

A Sean Raggett header that looped over the bar broke up the hosts’ early second-half dominance.

However, the home side kept coming to keep the Blues on their toes at the back.

To stem the flow, Cowley made his first substitution on 71 minutes, with Louis Thompson replaced by Joe Morrell in the engine room.

The Welshman’s presence didn’t stop Ipswich continuing to press high up the pitch, though, with the on-rushing Bazunu forced to deny Celina with a good save.

The temperature was raised further when Cowley stopped Dominic Thompson from taking a throw-in early on 77 minutes – an altercation that saw both booked, alongside Ronan Curtis.

And that helped stem the flow for Pompey – as did the substitutions that saw O’Brien replaced by Denver Hume and Hirst swapped for Tyler Walker.

The home fans thought they clinched it in the dying minutes when Woolfenden found the back of the net – but the flag went quickly up for offside against the defender – providing a hug sigh of relief for the Blues, who survived to claim a share of the spoils from their trip to Portman Road.