The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dave Good­er­ham

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

HEADS UP: Cardiff’s Sammy Ameobi gets up above Fred­die Sears and, in­set, Ip­swich’s Luke Cham­bers shoots un­der pres­sure from Joe Ralls

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