REPORT: IPSWICH 0 ALBION 0
- Albion and Ipswich play out a goalless draw
- The Seagulls keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet
- Brighton stay third in the Sky Bet Championship table
- Dale Stephens sent off late on
Ten-man Brighton & Hove Albion played out a goalless draw with Ipswich Town tonight, in a cagey affair at Portman Road.
The result ensured Albion kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet in the league, in what was the first 0-0 scoreline in this fixture since 1977 – a run stretching back 36 games.
The point means Brighton remain third and still only four points adrift of league leaders Huddersfield Town, despite playing the final eight minutes with ten men after Dale Stephens was sent off.
Chris Hughton made two enforced changes to the side, as Sebastien Pocognoli replaced the suspended Gaetan Bong to make his Albion league debut, and Oliver Norwood came in for the injured Beram Kayal.
Albion worked their first opening of the game when Bruno and Anthony Knockaert linked up well, with the winger’s dangerous delivery just missing Jiri Skalak at the far post.
Glenn Murray attempted to break the deadlock in spectacular fashion, but saw his dipping long-range volley go just over the target.
Jonathan Douglas had the ball in the back of the net for Ipswich after the ball rebounded into his path, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
The Seagulls carved out a goalscoring opportunity when Knockaert played a short corner to Norwood, and the Northern Ireland midfielder’s cross was just missed by Lewis Dunk inside the box.
In an increasingly cagey first half, former Seagulls loanee Leon Best had a shot from distance that went wide, after taking a nick off Shane Duffy.
Jonas Knudsen was next to try his luck for the Tractor Boys, but his shot was too high to cause David Stockdale any problems.
Cole Skuse and Knudsen both tested Stockdale with two separate attempts at the end of the half, but the score remained goalless heading into the break.
Stephens received his first booking of the game for dissent, after Albion’s players felt Knudsen fouled Bruno in the build-up to his chance.
Albion looked to seize the advantage after the break, as Pocognoli’s long-range pass found Knockaert, who forced a save from Bartosz Bialkowski.
The Frenchman was involved in the thick of the action again after being played through on the angle by Tomer Hemed, but he could not divert his left-footed strike on target.
Duffy had a golden opportunity to give Brighton the lead but fired a loose ball over the bar from Knockaert’s corner on the left-hand side.
Hughton changed Albion’s shape to a 4-3-3 formation in a bid to open up the game, and replaced Hemed and Skalak with Steve Sidwell and Jamie Murphy with 20 minutes left.
The two substitutes combined to set up Brighton’s next opportunity, as Sidwell teed up Murphy but his effort went wide of the right-hand post.
Stockdale then had a chance to test his opposing number Bialkowski with a long-range slightly mis-hit free-kick, but the Polish shot-stopper made a comfortable save.
Albion were largely reduced to efforts from distance for much of the game, and Stephens was next to try his luck with a left-footed volley that sailed wide.
But it was a night to forget for the Albion midfielder, who was sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages following a foul on Douglas.
The hosts had a chance to claim all three points after they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position, but Tom Lawrence’s shot hit the wall and the points were shared.