Kenneth Zohore’s fifth goal of the season moved Cardiff four points clear of third place in the Championship on Wednesday night.
Zohore’s finish from close range was enough for Neil Warnock’s side to extend their lead over Aston Villa.
It could have been a different story had Ipswich taken their chances in the first half in front of the lowest attendance at Portman Road in 20 years.
Kenneth Zohore scored his first goal of 2018 as Cardiff City won 1-0 at Ipswich on Wednesday
Zohore ended his 11-game run without a goal to fire home after 66 minutes at Portman Road
Ipswich (3-5-2): Bialkowski; Carter-Vickers, Chambers, Webster; Spence (Waghorn 79), Skuse, Hyam (Connolly 74), Ward (Bru 85), Knudsen; Celina, Sears
Subs not used: Crowe, Iorfa, Gleeson, Kenlock
Cardiff (4-2-3-1): Etheridge; Ecuele Manga; Morrison (Halford 40), Bamba, Connolly; Grujic (Madine 46), Ralls; Mendez-Laing, Damour, Hoilett; Zohore (Bryson 87)
Subs not used: Murphy, Feeney, Pilkington, Wildschut
Goal: Zohore 66
Referee: Andy Davies
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The theme for the night appeared to be set in the first minute when Matthew Connolly was allowed too much space inside the Ipswich penalty area but he couldn’t find the target.
The home supporters didn’t respond. Total silence and not even so much as a groan.
Portman Road can really rock when packed to its 30,000 capacity but for a long time the number hasn’t got near that figure.
The attendances have continued to fall this season. Over 18,000 turned up at the start of August. That number fell to under 14,000 in December. A total of 13,205 turned up on Wednesday night.
The negative style of football adopted by McCarthy is the prime factor. He chose to stay with the 3-5-2 formation that drew 1-1 away at Norwich in the East Anglian Derby on Sunday. It was at Carrow Road where the 59-year-old appeared to tell the travelling 2,000 Ipswich fans to ‘f*** off’ after Luke Chambers’ 89th minute goal.
But if the home supporters wanted a reason to berate McCarthy further, they found it difficult to find one during a positive first half.
Other than Connolly’s missed shot, Cardiff found failed to work the ball into dangerous areas. Too often they were forced to play the ball from wide, with striker Kenneth Zohore unable to get a run on Ipswich captain Chambers.
Ipswich were operating with three central midfielders of Cole Skuse, Grant Ward and Luke Hyam. They stayed busy by pressuring Joe Ralls and Marko Grujic.
Ward was also able to get forward. His shot from 25 yards required a smart save by Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Cardiff’s latest victory saw them extend their unbeaten run to seven Championship matches
Just 13,205 watched the game — the lowest league attendance at Portman Road in 20 years
Skuse was positioned a little deeper and expected to play the ball into space. Bersant Celina, the midfielder on loan from Manchester City, ran onto his clever ball shortly before half time. He rounded Etheridge inside the Cardiff penalty area on the left side but a poor touch meant he wasn’t able to convert.
Chambers nearly scored his second goal in three days just after the break but his header at the near post went over.
Cardiff have stayed close to the top of the table for most of the season. It was for that reason Ipswich couldn’t get too comfortable. Neil Warnock’s side have a habit of not giving up in games and being able to score just a single goal that would lead to victory. Five times they had won matches 1-0 this season before the trip to Suffolk.
It took 65 minutes for Cardiff to record their first shot on target but when it came it would prove to be the winner.
Substitute Gary Madine helped a Ralls pass into the Ipswich penalty area where Zohore managed to get the ball under control before finding the right corner of Bartosz Bialkowski’s goal.
Warnock’s side demonstrated their resilience in the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough last weekend. They did the same here. Sears and substitute Martyn Waghorn struggled to break a defence that held firm.
Another display that wasn’t pretty but one that might be pivotal if the Bluebirds are to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Ipswich appealed in vain for the referee to disallow Zohore’s goal for an apparent hand-ball
Zohore has now scored five goals for Cardiff this term and all have come in the Championship