Ipswich fans sang the name of their most famous manager during the second half and their team produced a comeback of which Sir Bobby Robson would have been proud.
Trailing to Championship leaders Leicester since the half-hour mark after an own goal from Leif Davis, Ipswich improved dramatically after the break and deserved their late equaliser through substitute Jeremy Sarmiento, who scored with a minute of normal time remaining.
That is one point from the last two games for Leicester and althugh they still have a seven-point cushion at the top, Enzo Maresca’s men don’t look quite so comfortable as they did a month or so ago.
‘It will be a race until the end,’ said the Italian, who served a one-match touchline ban here after picking up three yellow cards this term. ‘I feel frustrated about the result but not about the way we performed. There are many games left but we are still going in the right direction.’
If Leicester blow automatic promotion from here, it would be one of the most surprising collapses of recent times. Their squad is one of the best in Championship history and would not look out of place in the top flight.
Ipswich have invested heavily but deserve huge credit for staying in the race after winning promotion from League One last season. This point meant they climbed back above Southampton into second.
‘It’s a big step for this group of players, coming to a team like this, in their stadium, and it looked like that in the first half,’ admitted boss Kieran McKenna.
‘Nights like tonight will help us. We are competing with teams we have no right to compete with but there is such a long way to go. The three teams closest to us are abnormally strong for the division.’
Even though Maresca was in the stands, Leicester moved quickly into their stride — but found Ipswich goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky in fine form. After Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Tom Cannon had gone close, Hladky flew to his left to turn Hamza Choudhury’s 20-yard effort aound the post.
At the other end, Conor Chaplin should have hit the target from the edge of the box just before the half-hour mark after Kayden Jackson’s lay-off.
Moments later, Leicester were ahead. Stephy Mavididi played a one-two with Ricardo Pereira and when Hladky stretched to cut out the cross, he could only palm it against team-mate Davis.
Leicester led and they could have increased their advantage before the break yet Pereira fired wide from 12 yards and Hladky did well to parry Cannon’s drive.
Leicester survived a scare early in the second half when Wes Burns’ volley was pushed over by Mads Hermansen before the home side tried to pick up the pace. Massimo Luongo was lucky only to be booked for a forearm smash on Wout Faes and Harry Clarke also might have been sent off for flying into Dewsbury-Hall.
The Leicester midfielder was correctly denied a penalty for tumbling unnecessarily and Hladky produced another impressive stop from Cannon.
Cannon’s departure with nine minutes to go ensured a huge ovation for Jamie Vardy, back after nearly two months out, and soon it was Ipswich’s turn to demand a penalty when James Justin’s clearance hit Jannik Vestergaard on the thigh and bounced against his hand.
Ipswich deserved their equaliser. Hermansen made a huge hash of Luongo’s shot, parrying it straight to Sarmiento. The man on loan from Brighton rammed home and made Leicester feel just a little more jittery.
Jeremy Sarmiento scored late equaliser as Ipswich moved up to second in the Championship
Sarmiento steered the ball home after Massimo Luongo’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper
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Even though Vaclav Hladky made several saves Ipswich, Kieran McKenna’s team still had their moments before the goal when Conor Chaplin and Wes Burns went close.
Even though their manager was in the stands serving a touchline ban, Leicester moved quickly into their stride. Ipswich’s plan to play out from the back nearly cost them twice and in general play the Foxes were just a yard quicker.
The perfect example came when Ricardo Pereira caught Lewis Travis on his heels and found Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who could not decide whether to pass or shoot and Ipswich escaped.
Tom Cannon – preferred in the starting XI to fit-again Jamie Vardy – saw a shot blocked by Luke Woolfenden and Vaclav Hladky flew to his left to turn Hamza Choudhury’s 20-yard effort around the post.
The visitors tried to target Jannik Vestergaard’s lack of pace and Conor Chaplin should have hit the target from edge of the box just before the half-hour mark after Kayden Jackson’s lay-off.
Moments later, Leicester were ahead. Stephy Mavididi played a one-two with the excellent Pereira and when Hladky stretched to cut out the cross, he could only palm it against team-mate Davis. The own-goal was unavoidable and Leicester led.
They would have been further ahead at the interval had Pereira been more accurate when Woolfenden’s poor clearance dropped to him inside the box while Hladky did well to parry Cannon’s drive from just outside the area.
Leicester survived a scare early in the second half when Wes Burns sprung their defensive line and latched on to Harry Clarke’s header, with Hermansen showing impressive reflexes to turn the wide man’s volley over the top.
But the home side soon picked up the pace again. Travis headed off the line and Massimo Luongo threw himself in front of Kasey McAteer’s crisp volley from just outside the D. Travis had looked shaky all night and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Jack Taylor soon after the hour – only for Taylor to have a nervy moment of his own when his overhit backpass nearly caught out Hladky. Luongo was then lucky only to be booked for a forearm smash that flattened Wout Faes.
Leicester went ahead in the first-half thanks to an own goal by defender Leif Davis
Stephy Mavididi’s cross took a deflection off the Ipswich keeper and cannoned in off Davis
His team-mate Harry Clarke also might have been sent off for flying into Dewsbury-Hall, which incensed the Leicester players. They were pushing for the second by now and after Hladky did well to save from Mavididi, Cannon’s overhead-kick was just too high. Yet Ipswich still posed a threat and substitute Nathan Broadhead was stopped in his tracks by Vestergaard’s fine block.
Dewsbury-Hall was correctly denied a penalty for tumbling unnecessarily and Hladky – excellent throughout – produced another impressive stop from Cannon. Cannon’s departure with nine minutes to go ensured a huge ovation for Vardy, back after nearly two months out. Seconds later, it was Ipswich’s turn to demand a penalty when Justin’s clearance hit Vestergaard on the thigh and bounced against his hand.
But Ipswich were well on top now and deserved their equaliser. Hermansen made a huge hash of Luongo’s shot, parrying it straight to Sarmiento who rammed home and made Leicester feel just a little jittery.