OXFORD United shared their second successive goalless draw with Ipswich Town in a low-quality contest at Portman Road.

The absence of fans at the historic ground was keenly felt in a game that struggled to get going, with chances at a premium for both sides.

Ipswich came closest to scoring eight minutes after the break, when James Norwood struck the post from 12 yards out.

Matty Taylor headed the U’s best opportunity over the bar in the second half, meaning the teams’ last four meetings have yielded just one goal.

The draw sees United stay eighth, three points outside the Sky Bet League One play-offs.

The U’s line-up showed six changes to the side that started against Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday, with Elliot Lee recovering from a tight calf to take the right-wing role.

Taylor kept his place up front ahead of Winnall, while Jack Stevens, Anthony Forde, Rob Atkinson, Cameron Brannagan and Brandon Barker all came into the side.

Meanwhile, Ipswich boss Paul Lambert made seven changes and two of them combined to almost open the scoring eight minutes in.

Captain Luke Chambers lofted a deep cross towards the back post and lone striker Norwood headed past Stevens – only for Atkinson to clear off the line.

Mark Sykes and Lee were interchanging on the right side of United’s midfield and the latter forced the visitors’ first corner as his cross was sliced behind by James Wilson.

The U’s worked the ball from right to left and Brannagan stood a ball up for Taylor at the back post, but the striker’s header deflected behind.

Alex Gorrin was booked for a late challenge on Keanan Bennetts minutes later, before Troy Parrott had Ipswich’s best chance of the first period on the half-hour mark.

The hosts countered from a United corner and Bennetts’ low cross sat up for the Tottenham Hotspur loanee, but he dragged a half-volley wide from eight yards.

Barker looked bright on the U’s left and his cross-shot almost found Taylor two minutes later, in the final moment of quality in a scrappy first half.

Things threatened to liven up immediately as Ipswich forced a corner within 20 seconds of the restart, which saw Bennetts flash an effort wide following Norwood’s miskick.

Forde was yellow-carded for bringing down Alan Judge as he tried to counter-attack, before the hosts had two excellent chances in the space of two minutes.

Gorrin, on the edge of his own box, could only direct the ball to Norwood, but the striker hit the post from 12 yards out with only Stevens to beat.

Teddy Bishop then sent a dangerous cross towards Parrott six yards out, but he got his feet in a tangle and sent his effort past the post.

Robinson brought on Mide Shodipo and James Henry for Gorrin and Lee after 62 minutes and United’s best chance followed moments after.

Sykes was played in by Brannagan down the right and fired a cross at the unmarked Taylor, but the striker could not keep his header down from eight yards out.

With 16 minutes left United’s No 9 was replaced by Winnall, who was just as starved of service.

He had one opening with a minute remaining, but Ipswich keeper Thomas Holy got down to parry.

Ipswich Town (4-4-1-1): Holy, Chambers, Nsiala, Wilson, Kenlock, Bennetts, Bishop (Harrop 74), Bennetts (Sears 81), Dozzell, Judge, Parrott, Norwood (Drinan 81).

Unused subs: Ward, Matheson, Lankester, Cornell.

Booked: Judge.

Oxford United (4-3-3): Stevens, Forde, Moore, Atkinson, Ruffels, Brannagan, Gorrin (Shodipo 62), Sykes, Lee (Henry 62), Taylor (Winnall 74), Barker (Kelly 88).

Unused subs: Eastwood, Grayson, Hall.

Booked: Gorrin, Forde, Winnall.

Referee: Marc Edwards (Tyne and Wear).