Blues starlets shine in stalemate

IT took the sending off of Ipswich Town goalkeeper Lewis Price in the 49th minute to bring this game to life.Ten-men Blues gave as good as they got in the remaining minutes as the match opened up.

IT took the sending off of Ipswich Town goalkeeper Lewis Price in the 49th minute to bring this game to life.

Ten-men Blues gave as good as they got in the remaining minutes as the match opened up.

Martijn Reuser struck the bar with a tremendous 28-yard shot and Dean Bowditch created constant havoc as he ran at a worried Pompey defence time and again.

The first half had been a bore, with a back injury sustained by Alun Armstrong the only talking point.

The in-form striker began well but was lamed by a knee in the back and will receive treatment today before a decision can be made on his fitness for Saturday's First Division home game against Sheffield United.

Price made one good save from the lively Courtney Pitt and Reuser sent a screamer just over after a fine piece of play by Bowditch.

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The crowd were awakened from their slumber after Price's dismissal for bringing down an otherwise out-of-his-depth Mark Burchill – a one-time Town loanee.

Burchill was clean through and referee Darren Deadman's red card was a formality. His eight yellow cards, however, brought a farcical element to the game, with players immediately looking in his direction expecting a caution after even the most innocent of fouls.

John McGreal, still feeling his way back to full fitness, Sam Morrow and Matt Bloomfield were the Town players booked.

Irish keeper Shane Supple, just turned 16, came on for his FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League debut – and within seconds was making a fine save to deny Lee Bradbury with his first touch from the free-kick that resulted from Price's foul.

He made other good stops and on this evidence deserves a stint on the first team bench when Lewis receives his expected one-game ban.

Converted winger Scott Barron also impressed at left back and the Cambridgeshire-based lad looks to be the next in a long line of quality players currently being reared by the Ipswich academy.

Ipswich made light of their lack of numbers and Reuser, who had an effective game and could well be on the bench on Saturday, sent in another thunderbolt after 83 minutes. Pavel Srnicek dived full length to his left to hold on to the Dutchman's 25-yard effort.

Bowditch threatened on several occasions as Ipswich searched for their fourth consecutive victory, with skipper Bloomfield covering acres of ground and Chris Hogg and Aidan Collins looking assured at the back.

Watching manager Joe Royle will have been impressed by what he saw from his young players, while the bevy of scouts, led by Ipswich old boy and Rushden and Diamonds manager Brian Talbot and Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies, will have made notes as well.

And so did the referee's assessor – in abundance – although try as he may the referee failed to take the edge off the fine performances from second team coach Steve McCall's youngsters.

Ipswich Town: Price, Hogg, McGreal, Collins, Barron, Bloomfield, Abidallah (Supple 49), Mitchell, Reuser, Armstrong (Morrow 23), Bowditch. Subs: Flack, Nash, Craig.

Portsmouth: Srnicek, Cooper, Silk, Harris (Casey 71), Primus, Hughes (Park 56), Pettefer, Bradbury, Hunt (Keene 80), Burchill, Pitt. Sub: Bradshaw.

Referee: Mr D Deadman. Attendance: 580.

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