Ipswich Town 0 Tranmere Rovers 0
Ipswich Town's run of seven successive home wins came to an end on Easter Saturday against Tranmere, but the Blues remained well set for a play-off place.
The 0-0 draw at Portman Road provided a rather disappointing spectacle, with Rovers happy to get numbers behind the ball and grind out a valuable point in their relegation fight.
On leaving the field, Town discovered that play-off rivals Sheffield United, Birmingham and Wolves had all drawn also, leaving the picture at the top unchanged.
The first half was something of a non-event, with Town's only chance coming when David Johnson was put away by Kieron Dyer, but the 26-goal striker lost control and the ball ran through to Tranmere's keeper Steve Simonsen.
Tranmere had one or two chances -- Richard Wright having to clutch a Kenny Irons shot to his chest, soon after having pushed away an Irons cross which looked destined for an unmarked Micky Mellon.
Town stepped up the pace after the break, and within 30 seconds Johnson had sent Bobby Petta bearing down on goal, but Simonsen was out quickly to dive at his feet, and then regained his footing in time to clear from Johnson.
Simonsen proved to be a key figure for Tranmere in the second period, and on 49 minutes he made the first of two fine saves to deny Micky Stockwell , plunging to his right to turn away a goal-bound drive.
Stockwell saw another effort well saved by Simonsen on 66 minutes, and four minutes earlier the little Town midfield man had sparked appeals for a penalty.
Stockwell crashed to the ground as Clint Hill challenged him, but referee Mick Bailey ruled that Stockwell's momentum had taken him down, and indeed replays seemed to suggest there was little contact.
Town keeper Richard Wright's only worry in the second period was how to keep warm, as he had not a single on-target shot to save, nor a corner to deal with.
The game saw the return to action of Mark Venus -- after three months out with a broken toe -- when he replaced Tony Mowbray for the last eight minutes.
One interesting point to note was that Tranmere played in Ipswich's red training tops, after the referee said they couldn't play in their normal white shirts as it would mean both sides having white sleeves.
Manager George Burley said afterwards: "We knew it would be difficult. Tranmere Rovers are fighting for every point to avoid relegation - and they certainly made it difficult for us. I am disappointed that we dropped two points.
Tranmere Rovers came here for a 0-0 draw and to be fair to them they defended very tightly with very strong back defence.
"Today some of our players were exceptional. Credit must go to Tranmere Rovers for the way they defended - considering we had 99 per cent of the play.
I brought Mark Venus on to give us an extra dimension - with his strong left foot. The boys have done well."
TEAM (played in 4-4-2 formation): Wright, Taricco, Mowbray (sub Venus, 82 mins), Cundy, Clapham, Stockwell, Holland, Dyer, Petta (sub Sonner, 82), Johnson (sub Mathie, 57), Scowcroft.