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Ipswich Town take top spot in the Championship after coming from behind for 2-1 victory at Watford

Sam Morsy scored an 81st minute winner as Ipswich Town climbed to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table with a comeback 2-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Morsy punished a defensive error from Wesley Hoedt as the Blues recorded their fourth consecutive victory and set the best ever start by any side in the Championship era.

Yaser Asprilla had given the hosts a first half lead, only for George Hirst to bring the Blues back on terms just 12 minutes later.

Ipswich Town players were left celebrating another big three points on the road Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town players were left celebrating another big three points on the road Picture: Barry Goodwin

But Morsy’s late winner meant Watford’s five-match unbeaten run at home came to an end and recorded Town’s seventh away victory of the campaign.

Coupled with Leeds United’s defeat at Sunderland, the Blues now hold a 10-point buffer to the Whites in third ahead of the hotly-anticipated East Anglian Derby this Saturday (12.30pm). Leicester City will look to reclaim top spot going into the weekend with victory at home to Millwall tomorrow (7.45pm).

Town boss Kieran McKenna switched things up and made five changes from the weekend victory at Middlesbrough, including Brandon Williams and Massimo Luongo, who both came in having missed the trip to Teesside through suspension.

Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy performed his traditional kiss of the turf after scoring Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy performed his traditional kiss of the turf after scoring Picture: Barry Goodwin

Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Harness and Omari Hutchinson also came into a freshened Blues side, with Luke Woolfenden, Harry Clarke, Jack Taylor, Nathan Broadhead and Wes Burns all dropping to the bench.

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael made one change to his side, one-time Ipswich loanee Jake Livermore replacing Francisco Sierralta in midfield.

Morocco international Imran Louza dropped out of the Hornets’ match-day squad for the first time since February.

Town, returning to the Vicarage Road for the first time since Richard Chaplow’s infamous winner in 2015, saw the first effort of the evening go the way of the hosts. Ken Sema’s cross found the head of Mileta Rajovic, the Dane missing the target from eight yards out.

Ben Hamer was the first goalkeeper to be worked on 11 minutes, saving routinely from a Harness header after good play from Conor Chaplin and Hutchinson.

A minute later, Town were caught playing out and Watford took full advantage. Vaclav Hladky’s loose pass landed to Asprilla, whose square ball across to Rajovic saw Hladky deny the Hornets’ top scorer.

Unfortunately for the Czech, the rebound from Asprilla was fired beyond him to give the Hornets an early lead.

Town, not feeling sorry for themselves, looked to find a route back into the game. Leif Davis’ cross landed kindly for Chaplin in a pocket of space on the edge of the area, but his touch and strike was claimed by Hamer in the centre of the goal.

The Suffolk side then found a leveller on 24 minutes. Hutchinson, who had been looking lively, twisted and turned before taking an effort on goal that deflected kindly.

The ricochet caught out Hamer, who could only parry into the path of Hirst, who had the simplest of finishes to pick up the pieces and score his sixth goal of the campaign to bring Town on level terms.

The goal marked the Blues’ record-breaking 112th goal this calendar year, outright surpassing the number they scored in 1961.

By this stage, the contest had become end-to-end. Former Norwich City full-back Jamal Lewis poked wide from Sema’s cut-back before Edo Kayembe’s cross was parried away from danger by Hladky.

Kayembe then felt he should have done better with a header from six yards out, the source of which was again Sema on the Watford left, who looked to be the Hornets’ main mode of attack.

Town were next to come forward, Hutchinson curling wide from the edge of the box after neat work from Hirst and Davis.

Harness then went for goal from a similar area, his strike taking a deflection and was saved low to Hamer’s left.

The Blues had the ball in the net on 38 minutes, but Hirst’s header into the corner of the net from Davis’ free kick delivery was ruled out for a foul in the penalty area, Darren England’s whistle having long been blown.

Chaplin was the first man into the book for pulling back Sema as Watford looked to break.

Hirst joined his golfing partner in the book for a flailing arm on Ryan Porteous, who appeared to move his head into the challenge.

Watford have had the most games level at half-time in the league, so it came as little surprise when the sides returned to the changing rooms all square after the first 45 minutes.

McKenna made a rare half-time change with a switch at right-back. Clarke replaced Williams, who had found the first half challenging up against the lively Sema.

Immediately after the restart, Kayembe became the first Watford man to receive a booking for pulling back Hutchinson, then Luongo was booked for getting in Ismael Kone’s way as the Hornets looked to counter.

The first threatening attack of the half came Watford’s way. Sema’s low inviting delivery met nobody at the far-post and the ball eventually deflected behind for a corner.

Sema then saw a shot blocked by Clarke before his subsequent cross was headed away by Tuanzebe, who had been a commanding presence at the back for the Blues.

A Davis corner was met at the front post before landing at the feet of Hirst, who attempted to slam through a number of bodies from close range but saw his strike predictably blocked.

Sema, continuing to cause Town problems on the left, found the darting run of Lewis, but Hladky got in the way of his shot and the ball rolled wide for a corner.

The Blues somehow survived from the resulting set-piece. A flick-on at the front post landed for Rajovic, who could not connect cleanly and Town escaped.

Town then swapped Chaplin, Hirst and Harness for Burns, Freddie Ladapo and Broadhead. The Blues’ number seven was making his 400th senior club appearance.

There had been warning signs for Ipswich, Tom Ince finding Kayembe in space, but the DR Congo international slammed just over the bar as the game entered the final 15 minutes.

The home crowd had become the more vocal set of supporters for the first time as they began to create the better chances. Morsy got in the way of a loose ball before Ince’s strike was blocked by Cameron Burgess.

Then the Blues took the lead for the first time after a defensive error of Watford’s making. Hoedt received a pass from Kayembe but took a heavy touch, with Morsy robbing the home skipper of possession.

The Egyptian calmly slotted beyond Hamer for his second goal of the season and sent the sold-out away end into raptures.

Clarke then received treatment after taking a boot to the face when Vakoun Bayo attempted an overhead kick. The Watford man was booked.

Hutchinson was then booked for waving an imaginary card at referee England.

The Blues held out comfortably through four minutes of injury time to claim their 16th league win of the season.

Watford (4-2-3-1): Hamer; Lewis, Hoedt (c), Porteous, Andrews; Livermore, Kayembe (Healey 82); Sema (Martins 82), Kone, Asprilla (Ince 67); Rajovic (Bayo 67). Subs: Bachmann, Sierralta, Pollock, Chakvetadze, Dele-Bashiri.

Booked: Kayembe, Bayo.

Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Davis, Burgess, Tuanzebe, Williams (Clarke 46); Luongo, Morsy (c); Harness (Broadhead 68), Chaplin (Burns 68), Hutchinson; Hirst (Ladapo 68). Subs: Walton, Woolfenden, Taylor, Jackson, Scarlett.

Booked: Chaplin, Hirst, Luongo, Hutchinson.

Referee: Darren England (South Yorkshire).

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Omari Hutchinson.Morsy was the man of the moment, but Hutchinson was the most threatening player on the pitch, particularly in the first half. Watford’s defenders appeared frightened whenever he had the ball, and the Chelsea loanee deserved a great amount of credit for his role in Hirst’s equaliser.