U23: BLUES AND HOOPS DRAW AT PLAYFORD ROAD

Ipswich Town Under 23s (sponsored by CNet Training) and Queens Park Rangers drew 1-1 at Playford Road this afternoon (Tuesday 23rd February 2021 – 1pm kick-off), in a Professional Development League South fixture.

On a sunny but windy, Spring-like afternoon, Kieron Dyer and Terry Butcher fielded an experienced Starting XI against the West Londoners. Perhaps most notably the match marked the return to action of Tristan Nydam (pictured), 581 days after he suffered a broken ankle and ligament damage in a first-team pre-season friendly against Notts County back in Summer 2019. Armando Dobra, Jon Nolan, Jack Lankester and Kayden Jackson also began the game for Ipswich.

Kicking towards Playford Road in the first half, Town defended well during the opening 10 minutes as QPR edged the opening exchanges. On 11 minutes, QPR forward Martell Taylor-Crossdale hooked a smart finish into the Town net, but the offside flag had already been raised. The two best Blues opportunities of the opening quarter-hour fell to Lankester as he cut in from the right, but both were half-chances at best and they came to nothing. Nydam was heavily involved at left-back early on, linking well with his teammates and especially Zanda Siziba ahead of him on the left.

On 28 minutes Blues goalkeeper Harry Wright’s punch from a QPR corner got held up in the wind and dropped inside the Town box, but Fraser Alexander completed the clearance before the visitors could pounce. Nydam picked up the first yellow card of the game on 34 minutes, before Dobra side-footed wide from 18 yards following a pass from Dylan Crowe. Shortly afterwards, QPR number four Faysal Bettache struck well from 25 yards out but Wright did well to dive to his left and push the ball away for a corner that led to nothing. On 41 minutes, a wind-affected clearance from Wright was pounced upon by Rangers. Dillon De Silva eventually crossed to the back post, but George Thomas could only smash his strike into the outside of the side netting from a few yards out.

On 43 minutes Dobra followed Nydam into the referee’s notebook for a mistimed tackle. Then, just inside stoppage time, Tommy Smith slipped on the halfway line when receiving a pass from Nolan. QPR broke and the ball found its way to Thomas, but as he cut back to Ody Alfa Town centre-back Smith made an excellent recovery block to snuff out the danger. Shortly after, the half-time whistle blew with the teams locked at 0-0. QPR had created the clearer goal-scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes, with Wright fractionally the busier of the two keepers.

The same eleven players started the second period for ITFC (who were now kicking towards Ipswich YM Rugby Club) and the opening minutes of the half were evenly balanced. On 53 minutes Town made their first personnel change, with the returning Nydam making way for Ross Crane. Two minutes later, Dobra dribbled toward the right-hand side of the opposition box but his cutback was fractionally behind Siziba. A minute after that, Jackson was denied a goal by ‘keeper Marcin Brzozowski’s feet inside the six-yard box, before Nolan left the field to be replaced by Tyreece Simpson and QPR brought on Hamzad Kargbo in place of George Thomas.

What followed was the most action-packed spell of the match, as QPR’s Bettache was booked for a foul on Dobra on 64 minutes. Three minutes later, Dobra went on another direct and threatening run and was brought down just inside the area for a penalty. Town’s number 10 picked himself up and coolly dispatched the spot-kick, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and tucking the ball into the left-hand corner of the net. It was a deserved reward for Town, who were enjoying their best period of the game.

The lead was to be short-lived, however. On 73 minutes Siziba fouled Taylor-Crossdale in the centre of the pitch, not far outside the penalty area. Taylor-Crossdale took the set-piece himself and, bending the ball around the Blues’ defensive wall, found the net to the right (or the goalkeeper’s left) of Wright to level the scores. Town then made their third substitution of the afternoon, as Kai Brown came on for Dylan Crowe.

On 77 minutes, a wayward Town free kick inadvertently set QPR on the attack. Substitute Kargbo evaded a sliding challenge from Tommy Smith and unleashed a shot that Wright saved with his chest. The rebound again fell to Kargbo, who beat the ‘keeper but saw his effort cleared off the line by Fraser Alexander. On 78 Jackson had a shot saved, then sixty seconds later saw claims for a penalty waved away as he went down in the opposition box under a challenge from substitute Nathan Carlyle.

Town continued to pile on the pressure late-on, as substitute Brown made a strong run down the right on 80 minutes but saw his cut-back intercepted in the box. A minute later, as the game opened up, Kargbo flashed a header wide for Rangers following a left-wing cross from Alfa. The yellow card was then brandished twice more in quick succession, as Lankester for Town (82 minutes) and Kargbo for QPR (85 minutes) were both cautioned in the closing stages. In the last action of the game, Tommy Smith blocked a shot well but there was no time for the resulting corner to be taken as the referee blew the final whistle.

The point keeps Town second in the table, behind Bristol City. The Blues’ next league match is away to Swansea City on Monday 8th March, before playing host to Charlton Athletic on Tuesday 16th.

ITFC: Wright, Crowe (K. Brown 75), Baggott, Smith, Nydam (Crane 52), Alexander, Dobra, Nolan (Simpson 58), Lankester, Jackson, Siziba. Unused subs: Burwood, Z. Brown

QPR: Brzozowski, Williams-Lowe, Woolard-Innocent, Bettache, Mahorn, De Wijs, De Silva, Duncan, Taylor-Crossdale, Thomas, Alfa. Used subs: Kargbo, Carlyle. Unused subs: Bansal-McNulty, Little

Ipswich Town FC’s Under 23s are sponsored by CNet Training: https://www.cnet-training.com/

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