Omari Hutchinson’s stoppage-time strike sees Ipswich Town grab a point at home to West Brom
Substitute Omari Hutchinson came up with a 93rd minute equaliser as Ipswich Town came from behind twice to claim a point at home to Sky Bet Championship promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Portman Road.
Tom Fellowes had fired in on the break at the near post in the 18th minute to give Albion a deserved early lead in the Sky Sports-televised lunchtime kick-off.
Town saw their pressure thereafter eventually tell with Nathan Broadhead’s close-range volley within a minute of the second half.
The Suffolk side fell behind again in the 76th minute though with substitute John Swift firing in from almost 30 yards after they were caught playing out from the back.
But Town’s late rally in a frenetic finish paid off three minutes into eight added on when Hutchinson fired in a fierce angled effort following Sam Morsy’s shot from a corner deflecting into his path.
There was even late chances for the Blues to win it with Ali Al-Hamadi seeing a fierce effort parried out, but a draw seemed a fair reflection in the end.
The result continued a worrying run for Kieran McKenna’s side in the race for automatic promotion, with just one win in their last nine games now. But the point ensured the gap from the fifth-placed side to West Brom just below them remains at 11 points.
The gap to second place ultimately doubled to four points from the start of the day with Southampton winning a crazy game 5-3 at home to Huddersfield Town. Third-placed Leeds United extended their advantage to three points, having played a game more, with a more straightforward 3-0 victory at home to Rotherham United in their 3pm kick-off.
Kieran McKenna made two changes from the 3-2 at Preston North End last weekend with January signing Kieffer Moore, who scored twice from the bench, coming in for his first start in his second spell at the club with Kayden Jackson dropping to the bench.
The other change saw Nathan Broadhead given the nod on the left of the attack with Jeremy Sarmiento, who was on loan at West Brom in the first half of the season making way.
George Edmundson kept his place in defence alongide Luke Woolfenden with Axel Tunazebe on the bench, despite Cameron Burgess having returned from Asian Cup duty with Australia.
Carlos Corberan’s Albion showed one change from the side which beat Birmingham 1-0 at home last week with goalscorer Andreas Weimann coming in for John Swift.
Both Grady Diangana and Semi Ajayai remained away on African Cup of Nations duty.
It was the visitors who threatened inside a minute with Tom Fellows bursting onto Okay Yokuslu’s pass and sending a shot from the edge of the box bending over the top corner.
The Baggies’ positive start continued with Darnell Furlong’s ball into the box finding the run of Weimann in space but his first touch ended up comfortably going through to Vaclav Hladky while Brandon Thomas-Asante was soon not far away from Jed Wallace’s tasty low cross.
Town’s first chance arrived in the ninth minute but Wes Burns sent his header from Leif Davis’ cross looping well over the crossbar.
After a shaky start the Blues were beginning to find their rhythm with Alex Palmer out well to save at the feet of Burns as he raced after a Sam Morsy incisive pass.
Weimann volleyed over following a corner being half headed away as Corberan’s side served further notice of their danger.
And they duly took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Fellows managed to outmuscle Woolfenden to Weimann’s lofted ball over the top and cut inside the defender in the area before firing a low shot inside the near post.
A good chance for Town to level presented itself in the 24th minute but after Broadhead’s low cross for Moore was deflected into Chaplin’s path he lifted it over the bar with a first-time effort from around eight yards out.
Burns caught a sloppy pass out of the back as West Brom dropped deeper but it ended with Morsy’s shot not troubling Palmer while Chaplin saw an effort blocked by Cedric Kipre in the area.
The Blues’ pressure continued with a sweeping move across the pitch ending with Burns’ angled shot deflected behind by Conor Townsend’s lunge.
A bit of space was worked by Morsy for Clarke to have a strike from 20 yards out in the 43rd minute with Palmer tipping his dipping effort up over his crossbar.
There were ironic cheers from the home crowd in stoppage time as the visitors’ time-wasting tactics were finally punished with a booking for Darnell Furlong from a throw-in.
It had been a half where the hosts had been frustrated as they attempted to break down a resolute rearguard action since the goal, with Moore having not been given a sniff by Kyle Bartley and Kipre.
Bartley did not emerge for the second half though and his aerial presence was immediately missed as a long throw-in sparked Town’s equaliser within 45 seconds. Clarke’s delivery was headed back in to him with his own header flcked on by Edmundson with Broadhead ghosting in behind Furlong at the far post to volley past Plamer from inside the six-yard box.
Fellows sent an effort from the edge of the box over up the other end after a free kick was laid back by Bartley’s replacement Nathaniel Chalobah.
The Blues continued to have them largely pinned back though and a thunderous effort from Morsy from 30 yards whistled just over the bar.
The Baggies had the ball in the net in the 56th minute when Daryl Dike, just on as part of a double attacking substitution, flicked on a long throw-in for Weimann to head in unmarked at the back post, though it was quickly rightly ruled out for his hand putting it in.
Just past the hour mark Chaplin saw a saw a first-time effort from a low Burns cross parried away by Palmer as Town looked to get their noses in front.
There was a blow for the visitirors in the 65th minute when Dike, only on the pitch for 11 minutes, had to be replaced by John Swift due to an injury that saw him eventually taken down the tunnel on the back of a buggy.
A back-pass from Yokusulu had Palmer chasing back towards his own goal to retrieve it with Moore chasing him down.
McKenna made a double substitution in the 74th minute with Marcus Harness and Hutchinson entering the action for Chaplin and Burns.
For all their pressure it was Albion who re-took the lead though in the 76th minute when Town were caught out playing out from the back.
From a defensive throw-in, the ball was played across to Edmundson and his pass for Harness was intercepted and fellow substitute Swift played a one-two to create space for a near 30-yard shot that beat Hladky’s dive inside his right-hand post.
Town made two further changes in the 83rd minute with Ali Al-Hamadi and Sarmiento replacing Luongo and Broadhead.
Hutchinson cut in from the right side of the box a few minutes later but saw his low shot saved by Palmer.
With two minutes to go Sarmiento’s dangerous low cross saw Palmer push out to take it away from Al-Hamai.
Eight minutes of time were signalled to the roar from the home crowd and it was in the third of those that saw them earn a corner as Moore’s shot on the turn was knoced behind by Palmer.
From Harness’ delivery the ball was headed out to Morsy, who shot hit Swift and deflected out to Hutchinson who steadied himself before firing a low shot through a crowd of players to lift the roof off Portman Road.
The home pressure continued with a late winner almost coming from Al-Hamadi whose shot from inside the area was pushed out by Palmer.
The West Brom players fell to their knees after acrobatically clearing a last-gasp ball into the box with the final whistle leaving both sides with a point.
The Blues return to action at 18th-placed Millwall on Wednesday (8pm).
Ipswich: Hladky, Clarke, Davis, Edmundson, Morsy (cpt), Woolfenden, Burns (Hutchinson 74’), Chaplin (Harness 74’), Moore, Luongo (Al-Hamadi 83’), Broadhead (Sarmiento 83’).
Unused subs: Walton (gk), Jackson, Travis, Humphreys, Tuanzebe.
Booked: Morsy (30’), Clarke (49’).
West Brom: Palmer, Furlong, Townsend, Kipre, Bartley, Wallace (cpt), Weimann (Avila Gordon 83’), Thomas-Asante (Dyje 55’, Swift 65’), Mowatt, Fellows (Johnston 56’), Yokuslu.
Unused subs: Griffiths (gk), Pieters, Marshall, Hall.
Booked: Furlong (45+2’), Weimann (56’), Chalobah (66’).
Attendance: 29,016 (1,670)
SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Omari Hutchinson will make the headlines but captain Sam Morsy once again showed his worth to the team, driving his side on throughout.