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Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky feels point against Middlesbrough could be key in quest for automatic promotion

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky was pleased to have played a key role in helping what he saw as a positive performance against Middlesbrough get a reward, feeling the point in the 1-1 draw could be key in the automatic promotion race.

In their penultimate Sky Bet Championship home game of the season, Kieran McKenna’s side fell behind against the run of play to Emmanuel Latte Lath’s 20th minute header.

But they deservedly drew level 10 minutes later when Massimo Luongo showed great desire to get ahead of his marker to volley home a Leif Davis corner.

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Haldky speaks to the media following his side's 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough Picture: Russell Claydon
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Haldky speaks to the media following his side's 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough Picture: Russell Claydon

Jeremy Sarmiento went on to see an effort roll off the post as a dominant first half for the Blues ended level.

But despite seeing more of the ball in the second half as well, it was left to their Czech stopper to come up with two big late saves in quick succession from the 80-minute mark, from Isiah Jones’ low shot and then Matt Clarke’s close-range header, to preserve a point.

It ensured his side regained top spot in the table ahead of their final three games as they took advantage of 1-0 defeats for Leicester City and Leeds United.

He admitted there was some disappointment at not being able to get the three points, having now drawn successive games at Portman Road, following on from Wednesday’s stalemate with Watford but that the performance was what they were left reflecting on.

“The performance, especially the first half was really good,” he said.

“I think we could get more from the first half in terms of goals as we were so dominant and got a lot of chances, but at the end of the day it’s a draw and we were just a bit disappointed obviously.

“We always focus on the performance because it’s the main thing for us, to go there and do the things that we’re working for.

“But then obviously the result is the second thing and sometimes it is going our way but unfortunately not today.

“But still, it’s a good point in terms of every point can count at the end.”

As has so often been the case this season, the Blues were not knocked off their stride after falling behind, producing a solid response to Latte Lath’s opener with Luongo levelling within 10 minutes.

“As I said, in the first half I think we could go two or three-nil up and the game could be totally different and it’s always like that when you perform really well first half it’s just a bit harder for us to get there and be 90 minutes as dominant as the first half,” said Hladky.

“There’s room to improve, to stay on it and to be the same level as the first half and finish the game, that’s the next level for us.”

Asked about his late saves from Jones and Clarke, he admitted they were big moments but also paid tribute to his team-mates’ role in earning the point.

“They are massive saves to be honest,” he said.

“I am not saying this often but it was really good and I’m really pleased to save the point actually. But it was not just me, there were super blocks as well in the first half as well from the centre-backs as well so that’s our job and one game it’s me and another it’s a different lot.

“Obviously it’s a part of the journey and the big performance and sometimes we have to step up and do the things that we need.”

The Blues squad now head into a two-week break from action – with Coventry City’s involvement in the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals meaning that game has been put back – ahead of travelling to face Hull City on April 27 (8pm) as they enter the final week of the season.

But Hladky, who has revealed he has opened discussions on a new contract with his current deal set to expire in the summer, sees it as neither an advantage or disadvantage.

“We’ve been talking about it before the game that it is what it is and we don’t really think about if it’s an advantage or if we would rather play Saturday-Saturday. It is what it is and we go for it and we accept it,” he said.

With Leicester City and Leeds United both failing to win yet again, he was asked if the top three winning only once across nine games sums up how crazy the promotion race is in the Championship.

He replied: “I don’t know about other teams but from our point-of-view I’ve seen good performances on Wednesday and Saturday as well so we haven’t got too many issues. So we just want to stay on it and what we’ve been doing all season, I don’t see any big troubles.”

The Blues went into the Middlesbrough game after both of their main title rivals had played, but the former Salford City stopper said it was not hard to keep those results out of his mind when stepping onto the pitch.

“For me personally it’s easy, I don’t really see into the heads of the other lads, but as a team I think there’s no disruption, I would say,” he said.

“As I say, I think we played well and we went for the win, especially in the first half we were front foot and we tried to kill the game early on.

“I don’t see any problems in terms of looking at the other results.”

Asked if he would be watching games involving Leicester and Leeds during their own break from action, he said: “Yes, I think if you know on the match day where you want to be focused for yourself obviously you have a look at the table as it’s going to the end and I think it’s a natural thing for everyone.”

Asked about finding themselves at the top of the table with three games to go, with Leicester having four, Hladky said: “Yes it’s fantastic, it’s another point on the way.

“Obviously there’s three more left and with the circumstances with results before your game you’re always thinking it’s a good time and chance to kill it and go for it.

“But still, it’s a great position; we’ve got two points clear on Leeds (and one clear of Leicester) and if somebody asked us before the season starts you would take it 100 per cent. It’s a great, great position.”

With Town now switching to seeing how other teams get on before they play their next game, he feels it will have no impact on their own mindset.

“No, not at all,” he replied.

“And next week it could be a different way, we could play first and then obviously they have to react but we will just focus on ourselves.”