MURPH DROUGHT GOES ON AND ON
RESOLUTE at the back, shot-shy upfront, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City have similar positives – and problems – as the Championship table takes shape.
Cardiff have now gone more than 400 minutes since they last conceded, but rarely threatened Dean Gerken’s goal in an afternoon of very few chances.
The statistics make for even more grim reading for Mick McCarthy as he looks to find the right balance between defensive solidity and attacking flair.
No league wins in seven, just one success in ten, and a solitary goal in five games despite boasting, on paper, an enviable strike force.
It was perhaps predictable that a powder-puff goalless draw was played out in the Suffolk sun with McCarthy admitting his strikers – led by last season’s top scorer Daryl Murphy – need a confidence boost and his opposite number, Russell Slade, calling on his frontmen to be more ruthless.
Slade admitted: “We are on a good run at the minute, from a defensive point of view, but clearly our problems are at the other end.
“Sometimes when you go away, you are not going to get many chances and we need to start turning some of these games into 1-0 wins.
“We need to get more bodies in the box and be more ruthless when we have chances.We will keep working on it.”
Not that Slade was overly pessimistic after coming away from out-of-sorts Ipswich with a deserved point.
He added: “I do see it as a very good point as Ipswich is always a difficult place to come – and it has been a very difficult place for Cardiff in the past.
“We actually had more shots than Ipswich and we had one or two good chances in the second half but our options upfront are limited at the minute.”
Stating who had the most shots was akin to clutching at straws in a game that won’t live long in the memory.
The best of the few chances fell the way of the home side with David Marshall doing brilliantly to tip Murphy’s header onto the crossbar before Sean Morrison almost diverted Freddie Sears’ low cross into his own goal, Marshall again equal to it.
For Cardiff, their best moments came when Aron Gunnarsson’s snap-shot was turned round the post by Gerken before the Ipswich goalkeeper showed smart reflexes to save low down from Sammy Ameobi’s volley.
In one sense, it was a tale of two keepers – but in truth both Marshall and Gerken had little to do for large parts of the match.
The bigger story was misfiring Murphy, the 27-goal Championship top-scorer of last season whose confidence has plummeted as he searches in vain for his first goal this term.
Ipswich refused to cave in to Championship rivals who circled the striker over the summer – there was a reported £5 million bid from Middlesbrough – but McCarthy admitted his striker needs a goal.
McCarthy said: “On a different day last season, Murph would have probably hit one with his right foot into the top corner. No matter what job you do, if it is not happening for you then your confidence will hardly be flowing.
“He needs to find one from somewhere.
“Last season, we probably would have won that.
“But we are being far more competitive. We played well against a good side who were always going to be a tough nut to crack.
“It was always likely to be a goal either way but overall I thought we played well and put in a good performance.”
HEADS UP: Cardiff’s Sammy Ameobi gets up above Freddie Sears and, inset, Ipswich’s Luke Chambers shoots under pressure from Joe Ralls