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Ipswich Town held to stalemate against Stoke City as Kieran McKenna sees side extend winless run

Ipswich Town’s winless run extended to five matches as they began 2024 with a second straight goalless draw following a far from classic affair with Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

Despite playing against ten men for the final 23 minutes after Jordan Thompson’s red card, Town failed to test Jack Bonham enough on an afternoon where Sam Morsy picked up a card that will see him miss the next two league fixtures.

The Suffolk side have now recorded a league-high sixth away clean sheet of the season and remain three points clear of Southampton in the Championship table following the Saints’ 1-1 draw with Norwich City.

Ipswich Town extended their winless run to five matches Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town extended their winless run to five matches Picture: Barry Goodwin

Town boss Kieran McKenna, having been dealing with a number of absentees recently, made seven changes from Friday’s home draw with Queens Park Rangers.

George Edmundson came into the backline along with former Stoke loanees Axel Tuanzebe and Harry Clarke, while captain Morsy returned from suspension in midfield.

Nathan Broadhead and Wes Burns both recovered from illness to start, the latter of whom was making his 100th league appearance for Ipswich, with Kayden Jackson starting up front.

Wes Burns returned from injury against Stoke City Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wes Burns returned from injury against Stoke City Picture: Barry Goodwin

Cameron Humphreys, Brandon Williams, Dominic Ball, Marcus Harness, Omari Hutchinson and Freddie Ladapo all dropped to the bench with Cameron Burgess having joined up with the Australia squad for the Asian Cup this month.

Elkan Baggott, who also joined up with his national team, and teenager Gerrard Buabo, dropped out of the matchday squad.

Stoke head coach Steven Schumacher made two changes to his side that drew at Watford on Friday, Ki-Jana Hoever returned and Lewis Baker made his first start of the season after knee surgery.

Ben Pearson and Sead Haksabanovic dropped out.

Manager Kieran McKenna saw his side play out their second stalemate in a row Picture: Barry Goodwin
Manager Kieran McKenna saw his side play out their second stalemate in a row Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Potters were the first to have a sight of goal, Junior Tchamadeu and Wouter Burger’s improvised efforts both blocked either side of Baker testing Hladky with a driven strike from 20 yards, which the Czech comfortably saved down low.

Jackson drew the first booking of the afternoon from Thompson, who was perhaps fortunate to get away with only a yellow for a high challenge as the Town striker looked to break.

The hosts were looking the more likely to break the early deadlock and almost pounced on an Ipswich error. Tuanzebe’s poor throw in resulted in Ryan Mmaee unleashing a powerful volley which was palmed away by Hladky, before Baker’s long-range effort game the Blues some respite.

Broadhead struck high and wayward minutes after Conor Chaplin tested Bonham for the first time with a strike from the edge of the area after Clarke’s miskick had landed somewhat fortuitously.

The Blues were beginning to get a foothold in the game, the bounce on Jackson’s looping ball for Burns did not fall kindly and allowed Bonham to gather.

There was a pause in play on the half hour as referee James Bell pulled up injured. He was replaced by fourth official Thomas Bramall.

The new man in the middle’s first task was to book Morsy for a foul on Baker on halfway, meaning the Blues captain will miss league matches against Sunderland and Leicester City through suspension after accumulating his tenth booking of the season.

Hladky, on what was his 50th start for Ipswich, had been the busier goalkeeper and was required again to keep out Baker towards the end of the half, saving well on two occasions to keep out the former Chelsea man.

The Potters would argue they had been marginally the better of the sides, but they entered the interval goalless, which felt a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes.

The first action of the second half was a booking for Baker, the Stoke midfielder having brought down Massimo Luongo near the touchline.

Town had started the half on the front foot and came closest to taking the lead when Burns stung the palms of Bonham. The resulting cutback could not fall to Jackson before Chaplin’s snap-shot drifted wide after some promising build-up.

Then it was Stoke’s turn to threaten as the home crowd upped the volume. Bae Junho’s cross somehow evaded everyone in the middle before another from Baker was cleared away.

Home captain Burger had the ball in the net a few moments later, but the flag had long been up for offside. Replays suggested it was marginal.

Town made their first change on 63 minutes. Hutchinson replaced Jackson, allowing Broadhead to move up front.

A few minutes later, the Potters were reduced to ten men when Thompson, having won a foul from Chaplin, was shown a second yellow card for presumably some exchanged words with the referee.

The Blues, looking to make the most of the man advantage, saw Burns weave in and out in the penalty area, but Michael Rose produced an important challenge to stop the Welshman in his tracks.

By this stage, the visitors were in the ascendancy. Chaplin saw an effort blocked before he and Luongo were replaced by Harness and Jack Taylor.

With six minutes to go, Hutchinson’s cross met Taylor and Tuanzebe in the area, but neither could establish a clean connection as the Blues chased a winning goal.

Stoke substitute Dwight Gayle failed to pounce on Hoever’s deep cross, before Town were back on the attack with everybody bar Hladky in the Potters’ half.

McKenna utilised his bench one final time with an attacking change which saw Ladapo replace Tuanzebe for the final few minutes.

In the penultimate scheduled minute, Clarke was booked for a late challenge on Daniel Johnson.

Five minutes of additional time came to a conclusion as Stoke, who remain unbeaten under Schumacher, held out for a share of the spoils.

The Blues’ winless record at the bet365 Stadium extended to nine games ahead of a break from league action on Saturday lunchtime, when they travel to League Two side AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the FA Cup.

Stoke City (4-3-3): Bonham; Hoever, Rose, McNally, Tchamadeu; Burger (c), Thompson, Baker; Junho (Johnson 80), Mmaee (Gayle 80), Vidigal (Wilmot 74). Subs: Simkin, Wesley, Haksabanovic, Clark, Sidibe, Lowe.

Booked: Thompson (2), Baker.

Sent Off: Thompson.

Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Clarke, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Tuanzebe (Ladapo 86); Luongo (Taylor 77), Morsy (c); Broadhead, Chaplin (Harness 77), Burns; Jackson (Hutchinson 63). Subs: Walton, Ball, Williams, Aluko, Humphreys.

Booked: Morsy, Clarke.

Referee: James Bell (South Yorkshire), Thomas Bramall (South Yorkshire).

Attendance: 23,121 (2,570 Ipswich).

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: George Edmundson. Edmundson was composed on the ball and dealt with plenty of aerial balls into the box, particularly in the first half when Stoke were testing the Blues backline more. It can be easy to forget the former Rangers man has not played a lot of football lately.