Perceived wisdom would have it that the business end of the season is a time for experience. It is a time when old hands offer a guiding light which can be the difference between a side losing its way or finding a path to promotion.
At Portman Road last night these two play-off candidates were inspired by teenagers. Ipswich Town had 18-year-old Jordan Rhodes to thank for scoring an equaliser which moves them one point from the final play-off slot.
Rhodes, on as a second-half substitute, pounced on a deflected Alan Quinn shot in the 73rd minute and finished emphatically. "He's as good a finisher as we have at this club," Ipswich manager Jim Magilton said of his young striker, whose goal was his first for the club. "We have to wrap him up in cotton wool at times, but he can be a pivotal player in our remaining games."
Magilton had said that his side must win all their remaining games to reach the play-offs, but the point keeps them in contention. "We have to step up to the plate," he said. "I'm fed up with talking about not stepping up to the plate. I'm fed up about talking about the next game. Now is the time to stand up and I'm looking to my players to do that."
Cardiff had the game's outstanding performer in Aaron Ramsey who, at 17, is a year younger than Rhodes. Ramsey, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, toyed with Ipswich centre-back Alex Bruce before giving Gavin Rae the easiest of chances to score the 37th minute opener.
On the back of their exploits in the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday, Cardiff wilted in the second half, as Ipswich pressed for a winner. They nearly got it in the final minute when a Danny Haynes volley was harshly disallowed for pushing in the build-up.
The point leaves Cardiff five points adrift of the play-offs, but with a game in hand. "We were running on empty by the end," their manager Dave Jones said. "But we're still in with a shout."
Ipswich (4-4-2): Bywater; Simpson, Bruce, De Vos, Sito (Wright, 62); Quinn (Sumulikoski,79), Miller, Garvan, Roberts (Rhodes, 46); Haynes, Lee. Substitutes not used: Colgan (gk), Williams.
Cardiff City (4-5-1): Enkelman; Blake, Loovens, Johnson, Capaldi (Whittingham, 62); Ramsey, Rae, McPhail, Scimeca (Sinclair, 69), Ledley (Hasselbaink, 83); Thompson. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Purse.
Referee: R Booth (Nottinghamshire).Reuse content