Ipswich Town are through to the knockout rounds of the Papa John’s Trophy as group winners, despite a 1-0 loss at Cambridge on a night where Kyle Edwards was controversially sent off in the early stages.

Ten-man Town were ultimately beaten by Lewis Simper’s drive from outside the box on 79 minutes, but it’s Edwards’ dismissal on 17 minutes which will ultimately be the enduring talking point from this game.

The Ipswich winger, back in form following a difficult few months, was controversially shown a second yellow card for diving, having earned a first for a high foot, incensing manager Kieran McKenna and his coaching staff and leaving Ipswich with an uphill task in the remaining 75 minutes.

The visitors had some good spells at the Abbey Stadium but, once the hosts turned things up a gear around the hour mark, they found things a little more difficult before Simper eventually found the breakthrough.

Ipswich were as good as through to the knockout stages thanks to their earlier victories over Northampton and Arsenal’s Under 21s, with Town finishing top of Group H and earning a home tie in the next round despite defeat.

Arsenal’s victory at Northampton means the young Gunners join the Blues in the knockout stages.

Ipswich Star: Lee Evans speaks with the referee after he had sent off Kyle Edwards at Cambridge United.Lee Evans speaks with the referee after he had sent off Kyle Edwards at Cambridge United. (Image: Steve Waller)

McKenna named a mixed side for the visit to the Abbey Stadium, with Edwin Agbaje given an Ipswich Town debut at right-back and attacking midfielder Tawanda Chirewa starting a senior game for the first time.

Around the two youngsters was a cast of first-team players, with Vaclav Hladky in goal and Luke Woolfenden, Richard Keogh and Kane Vincent-Young completing the defence.

Lee Evans captained the side from midfield, alongside Cameron Humphreys, while Edwards, Kayden Jackson and Tyreece John-Jules completed the attack.

The latter two players combined for Town’s first chance of the night, as Chirewa freed Jackson down the right, with the cut-back allowing John-Jules to drive at goal and force a low save from Will Mannion in the Cambridge goal.

Edwards was booked after leaving a high boot on Zeno Ibsen Rossi inside the Cambridge box and, just a few minutes later saw red as referee Thomas Parsons adjudged the former West Brom man to have dived over Jubril Okedina’s challenge as he looked to break into the box.

Ipswich Star: Kyle Edwards receives an early yellow at Cambridge United.Kyle Edwards receives an early yellow at Cambridge United. (Image: Steve Waller)

Replays showed the decision to be a controversial one, but Town faced playing the remaining 75 minutes with 10 men against a Cambridge side who quickly settled into their groove with a man advantage.

Though the hosts had more time and space to work, the chances weren’t flowing before Fejiri Okenabirhie curled a shot over the bar from outside the box.

McKenna was clearly unhappy with the officiating in this game, having regular dialogue with the fourth official on the touchline before striding towards the referee at half-time, fuming at what he had seen following Edwards’ early dismissal.

Coach Charlie Turnball had his say, too, before both sides and the officials headed to the dressing room, with the Ipswich side which returned looking very different to the one which finished the first-half as McKenna made four changes.

Freddie Ladapo, Wes Burns, George Edmundson and Panutche Camara came on for John-Jules, Jackson, Woolfenden and Evans, with Burns involved almost immediately as he shot, left-footed from inside the area and saw his effort bounce back off the post.

Ipswich were dominating possession despite being a man down but needed Keogh to make a good block on Saikou Janneh’s shot on the hour mark, keeping the scores level, before the veteran was called into action again with a superb block to deny former Town man Jack Lankester, after Camara had given away possession inside his own box.

Town were living a little more dangerously now as Ipswich began to turn the screw, with Hladky needing to make a good save to keep Janneh out before Lankester’s shot from the rebound was deflected up and off the bar by Humphreys.

Cambridge’s best chance saw Brophy get away from Agbaje and pull back to Okenabirhie inside the area, but the striker’s contact wasn’t good as he side-footed wide of Ipswich’s far post before Hladky got down well to hold substitute Harvey Knibbs’ strike from inside the penalty area.

Then the Cambridge goal, as Lankester’s sweeping ball to Knibbs eventually saw Simper let fly with a drive from outside the box which stayed low and evaded the Ipswich keeper before bouncing in off the post.

Town huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, which would have taken the game to penalties, but the contest ultimately ended in a loss which did not halt Town’s march into the knockout rounds.

CAMBRIDGE UNITED (3-4-3): Mannion; Williams (Knibbs 65), Taylor (cpt), Rossi; Okedina, O'Neil, Worman, Brophy; Janneh (Smith 75), Okenabirhie, Lankester.

Subs: Holden, Simper, Cowling, Jobe, McConnell.

Booked: Taylor (29), Brophy (83).

IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Agbaje (Armin 87), Keogh, Woolfenden (Edmundson 46), Vincent-Young; Humphreys, Evans (cpt) (Camara 46); Jackson (Burns 46), Chirewa, Edwards; John-Jules (Ladapo 46).

Subs: Hayes, Chaplin.

Booked: Edwards (7, 17), Woolfenden (45+), Chirewa (72).

Red card: Edwards (17).

Referee: Thomas Parsons.