City had Dean Gerken to thank for the second time against Ipswich this season as the keeper single-handedly kept the Tractor Boys at bay.
The ex-Colchester stopper produced at least EIGHT point-blank saves to frustrate Roy Keane’s hungry home side.
Despite that, it was City who actually started the brighter, with Paul Hartley restored to the midfield at the expense of the injured Marvin Elliott in the only change from Sunday’s team that beat West Brom.
David Healy was the first to to test Gerken as early as the eighth minute, with the keeper pushing away the Northern Irish striker’s driven shot.
A mistake by Lewin Nyatanga at the back then let in Daryl Murphy who, just as he was about to pull the trigger, saw Bradley Orr come from nowhere to produce an outstanding block.
Nyatanga then narrowly headed wide of the target on 34 following an inch-perfect Paul Hartley corner, before Gerken was called into action again by pulling off a superb double save from point-blank range to deny Grant Leadbitter and Murphy.
Two minutes before the break came City’s best chance. Liam Fontaine sent in a curling delivery from the left that picked out big Chris Iwelumo who could only head straight onto the bar as half-time loomed.
Ipswich flew out of the traps in the second period only to find Gerken inspired in the City goal.
Orr’s slip in the penalty box allowed Jon Walters, scorer of a hat-trick in the 6-0 drubbing here two seasons ago, only for Gerken to make another smart save low down.
Then came Ipswich’s turn to rattle the woodwork on 55. David Norris’ pass slipped in Joe Colback who watched in agony as his poked effort rebounded off the inside of the post and into the arms of a relieved Gerken.
Healy was the next to test Gerken with a header whilst David Clarkson drew a good save from Brian Murphy at the other end, who kept out his dipping volley.
Gerken denied Healy for a third time on the hour, as the on-loan Sunderland striker galloped onto another Norris through-ball to go one-on-one only for Gerken to stand strong.
Then came arguably the best of the bunch from Deano as the siege on our goal continued. Gerken brilliantly denied Gareth McAuley low-down before beating away a 25-yarder from Walters.
You sensed the City goal, and Gerken, were living a charmed life and hearts were in mouths in stoppage-time as a long-throw from second-half sub Connor Wickham evaded everyone and landed in the net.
As the home fans and players celebrated, ref Nigel Miller correctly disallowed it as nobody had got the defining touch to claim the goal!
City survived to tell the tale whilst Roy Keane summed it up perfectly when saying: ‘The two games we’ve played against them, Gerken has been brilliant – the difference from us having two points to six.’
IPSWICH (4-4-2): Murphy, Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, Colback, Edwards (Garvan ’82), Norris, Leadbitter, Walters, Healy (Counago ’68), Murphy (Wickham ’68).
CITY (4-5-1): Gerken, Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, Fontaine, Haynes (Sproule ’74), Hartley (Campbell-Ryce ’66), Johnson (Williams ’60), Skuse, Clarkson, Iwelumo.
REFEREE: Nigel Miller (Durham)
* Player ratings and reviews provided by Dave Collins of Plymouth.
Dean Gerken 9
Bradley Orr 6
Poor going forward and distribution, kept on lumping it into box rather than pass and move.
Liam Fontaine 7
Another good shift at left back, maybe his strongest position. Great ball for Iwelumo.
Lewin Nyatanga 6
Got done a few times but overall was ok. Looked a bit iffy on occasions but generally good.
Louis Carey 8
Defended solidly and made some good forward runs. Resolute performance.
Cole Skuse 7
Don’t think he gave the ball away once and made some fantastic passes. Marshalled the midfield well.
Lee Johnson 4
Expected better after his peformance against the Baggies but kept giving the ball away and was right to be subbed. Wasn’t good enough for me.
Paul Hartley 6
Made some champagne passes but gave the ball away too much, didn’t look very fit. Not as influential as he can be.
David Clarkson 5
Needs to stay on his feet and stop being a ponce, sometimes to slow with his distribution
Chris Iwelumo 6
Heavily marked, won a few headers that started some attacks. Should’ve scored.
Danny Haynes 5
Was heavily marked, often had three players on him, which meant he couldnt make an impression at his old stomping ground.
Gavin Williams 4
Not sure why Johnson persists with him. Would rather see a youngster given a go.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce 5
Barely touched it.
GARY JOHNSON – 4/10
We were second best to everything and he owes everything to his goalkeeper for getting a point today because we didn’t deserve it. Normal service resumed.
ROY KEANE – 6/10
His side peppered our goal from the off and would’ve won handsomely on another day. Must be sick of the sight of Gerken after his performance in the two league games this season.
Gerken Performance Papers Over The Cracks
The truth is that we were cack again today and it is only down to a combination of Gerken and their poor finishing that we drew.
They should have won by two or three and we showed no intent in getting forward, and did none of the things we did against West Brom last week.
Just one goal in 7 away from home, no goal on our travels since Maynard’s wonder strike at QPR on Boxing Day – the result masked another very poor performance.