Town toil against ten-man Burnley

By ELVIN KINGIpswich Town 0 Burnley 0IPSWICH Town reached the halfway stage of their Coca-Cola Championship season without being able to present their fans with a three-point Christmas gift.


Ipswich Town 0 Burnley 0

IPSWICH Town reached the half-way stage of their Coca-Cola Championship season without being able to present their fans with a three-point Christmas gift.

Burnley played all the second half with ten men, and managed to deny the Blues a serious scoring chance despite play being virtually all one way.

It was the last Ipswich home game of 2007 and they failed to find their shooting boots. It was the first match since wealthy businessman Marcus Evans took control of club - with rumours that he was in the ground watching the game.

Alan Lee should have scored with second minute header and Tommy Miller struck the bar in the 13th minute. Gabor Kiraly then superbly saved a Pablo Counago header.

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The visitors had midfielder John Spicer sent off just before the interval for a two-footed lunge at Jon Walters

Bruce came back into the Town team after injuring himself at Bristol City on December 4. He replaced 37-year-old Wilnis at the heart of the Blues defence, while there was one other change for the home team with Miller coming in for Williams.

Both Wilnis and Williams were on the bench where there was still no place for Harding. Seventeen-year-old striker Rhodes was looking to make his first team debut.

Burnley would offer Ipswich a severe test of their long unbeaten home run having gained victories in their last four away matches.

They were without the suspended McCann and Gudjonsson, but welcomed back skipper Caldwell after injury.

Former Town loanee Unsworth was in the visiting defence, but there was no place for Mahon - another ex-Ipswich loanee - as the midfielder was injured.

Within two minutes Haynes teamed up with Counago to create space and cross to an unmarked Lee standing on the edge of the six-yard box.

Lee had time to direct his header, with Kiraly diving to his left to finger tip the ball away. It was a good chance for Town, but the keeper deserves some credit for stopping what should have been a certain goal.

Unsworth was playing at the heart of the Burnley defence, and he began a 12th minute move that led to Elliott crossing deep from the right and Lafferty heading the ball back across the six-yard box. Fortunately for Ipswich there was no visiting player on hand to provide the final touch.

In the 13th minute, Ipswich again went close. Garvan squared a short pass to Miller, who made space for himself before firing a 20-yard left-footed rocket smack against the bar. The tracksuit-bottomed Kiraly was beaten all ends up, and it was an unlucky break for Town.

The 19th minute saw Sito come running off, and he went straight to the dressing room after signalling to the bench that he was having problems focussing.

Wilnis came on to take his place, going to right back with Wright switching to left back. And within two minutes Wilnis was perfectly placed to clear deep in the home penalty area after a clever Burnley corner routine opened up the home defence.

The game continued at a fast pace, and was a thoroughly entertaining affair with Walters showing subtle skills before setting up Haynes for a chance that was fired with great venom but two yards too high.

Counago and Unsworth were both spoken to at length by Premier League official Mr Dowd after a clash in which the Burnley man felt the Spaniard had raised his elbows.

Kiraly somehow arched his back to fingertip a header from Counago away from the goal after Walters had seen his left-wing cross deflected to his fellow striker.

It was a fine save and came at a time when Town were pressing all the right buttons and attacking consistently.

Things were getting a little heated and Mr Dowd had a chat with a Burnley coach who delayed giving the ball back in the technical area.

In the two minutes of stoppage time the visitors were reduced to ten men when Spicer was shown a red card by the referee for what looked like a two-footed lunge on Miller. The incident led to most players joining in a near free-for-all before Mr Dowd led the midfielder away and then sent him off. Half-time:

Ipswich Town 0 Burnley 0

Beating ten men does not always prove to be an easy task, and Burnley had shown enough in the opening half to suggest they could still get a win from this match.

Haynes broke down the right in the 53rd minute, and from his cross the ball found its way back to Miller, who saw his 22-yard shot drift well wide of the far post.

Unsworth was proving uncompromising at the back for Burnley, and he was in the right place to clear after Haynes made a terrific run to the by-line - leaving several defenders in his wake.

Ipswich were playing some intricate football trying to unlock the visiting defence, and it was virtually all one way traffic although Burnley were going to take some breaking down. Jones came on Blake after 59 minutes and took his place on the right of midfield.

Lee headed Miller's cross into the danger zone in the 68th minute, but a busy keeper was able to rush out and grab the ball ahead of Haynes with Burnley already resorting to booting the ball anywhere up field at every opportunity.

Akinbiyi replaced Gray after 70 minutes to take over the lone running role up front with Caldwell and Unsworth continuing to marshall the visiting defence.

Williams came on for Haynes with 17 minutes left, but Town were defending in some depth in the 75th minute with Bruce having to clear a Lafferty cross over his own bar.

Counago did twist and turn in the 80th minute, but his left-footed shot was comfortably saved by Kiraly diving to his right.

Town had dominated the second period, but had had their best chances in the opening half, and a goal did not look like coming against a well-drilled Burnley side.

Rhodes came on for Lee to mark his debut with six minutes remaining, and within seconds he came close to turning in a forward pass by Counago.

Ipswich continued to huff and puff in the four minutes of stoppage time, but that elusive goal never looked like coming.

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