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Ipswich Town lose further ground on Sky Bet League One automatic promotion race after 1-1 draw away at Cambridge United





Ipswich Town are now six points adrift of the automatic promotion spots in Sky Bet League One after a 1-1 draw at Cambridge United this afternoon.

The Tractor Boys had to come back from a goal behind at half-time to earn a point at the Abbey Stadium, with Freddie Ladapo’s smart finish on 54 minutes cancelling out Harvey Knibbs’ 24th-minute opener for the U’s.

The relegation-threatened hosts could have been further in front at the break, after George Edmundson fouled Conor McGrandles in the box on the half hour mark.

Sam Morsy heads the ball for Ipswich Town during their 1-1 draw at Cambridge United Picture: Izzy Poles
Sam Morsy heads the ball for Ipswich Town during their 1-1 draw at Cambridge United Picture: Izzy Poles

But Town’s number one Christian Walton came to his side’s rescue, diving low to his right to keep out Joe Ironside’s penalty.

And despite equalising early on in the second half and enjoying close to 75 per cent of possession, Kieran McKenna’s promotion chasers were unable to find a second goal.

The point leaves third-placed Ipswich six points off of the top two in League One, with Sheffield Wednesday replacing Plymouth Argyle at the summit on goal difference after beating their title rivals 1-0 at Hillsborough elsewhere today.

After seeing his side gain plenty of plaudits for their performance in a 0-0 draw with runaway Championship leaders Burnley at Portman Road, in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round, last weekend, McKenna’s men resumed their League One promotion push with a trip to Cambridge.

Richard Keogh is under pressure from the Cambridge United attack Picture: Izzy Poles
Richard Keogh is under pressure from the Cambridge United attack Picture: Izzy Poles

Ipswich were searching for back-to-back wins in the league for the first time since late October, with another victory ensuring they would close the gap on at least one of the two sides above them in the table.

Meanwhile, Mark Bonner’s U’s, who started the day sitting in 23rd, were in desperate need of three points to pull away from the relegation zone, having dropped into the bottom four in League One last month.

Ipswich boss McKenna named an identical line-up to the one which had started in their last league outing, the 4-0 home victory against Morecambe, and as expected it was the visitors who had plenty of the ball.

Connor Chaplin saw an early effort blocked by the Cambridge defence, and goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov was called into action to punch away a Leif Davis corner, but Ipswich were unable to truly threaten a breakthrough in the opening exchanges.

The game’s first meaningful shot at goal arrived on 24 minutes and it was at the other end, as Knibbs unleashed a fine strike from outside the box which flew past Walton and into the far corner to put the U’s in front.

The diving Christian Walton saved a penalty for Ipswich Picture: Izzy Poles
The diving Christian Walton saved a penalty for Ipswich Picture: Izzy Poles

The goal instantly lifted the home side, who carved out a golden chance to double their advantage on 30 minutes when McGrandles dribbled his way into the Ipswich box and was brought down by Edmundson.

The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped Ironside, who was denied by the outstretched glove of Walton, to ensure his side did not fall further behind.

An unimpressed McKenna turned to his bench at half-time and made a trio of substitutions, with Janoi Donacien, Kyle Edwards and Marcus Harness all coming on in place of Harry Clarke, Davis and Lee Evans.

The changes sparked an almost instant response for Town, who were now attacking towards their large travelling contingent of almost 1,500 supporters, as just nine minutes into the second half the visitors were back on level terms.

Substitute Edwards sent a low cross into the Cambridge box from the left-hand side and Ladapo turned the ball past Mitov to make it 1-1.

Ipswich pushed for a second straight after with Chaplin seeing a free kick pushed away by Mitov, and the U’s goalkeeper was alert moments later to grab the ball before Nathan Broadhead could convert from close range.

The clock was on Town’s side with plenty of time left to grab a winner, but a resolute Cambridge defence managed to hold strong to keep hold of a point and leave McKenna’s men with further ground to make up in their bid to finish in the top two.

Ipswich Town: Walton, Clarke (Donacien 46’), Keogh, Edmundson, Davis (Edwards 46’), Evans (Harness 46’), Morsy (c), Burns, Chaplin (Hirst 73’), Broadhead (Humphreys 82’), Ladapo. Subs not used: Hladky, Jackson.

Booked: Edmundson, Morsy.

Referee: Sam Barrott.

Attendance: 7,154 (1,485 Ipswich).