Late point for Ipswich Town against Leicester City shows how easily mood can change in football


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The way in which a draw can leave football fans feeling is one of the sport’s many great wonders.

Whilst Ipswich Town may have only taken a single point after a 1-1 draw with Leicester City, it’s a result that would have felt like so much more to the Tractor Boys.

It was less than two weeks ago that fans of the high-flying Suffolk club were exiting Portman Road with a feeling of disappointment after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Norwich City.

It was a point which, in reflection, should be viewed with positivity. But after all the build-up, including an impressive pre-arranged fan welcome for the Ipswich team coach, the inability to end their 14-year winless run over the Canaries left supporters downcast and frustrated.

Yet click fast forward to the visit of Leicester City for a match under the Portman Road lights in a fixture between the Championship’s top two sides and therefore befitting of the ‘Christmas cracker’ clichés for which it would be marketed.  Town fans  headed home from the traditional Boxing Day clash feeling rather pleased with a share of the spoils.

If Ipswich Town’s start to the Championship season has been impressive, then Leicester City have been simply relentless. Town have had the best start to a second tier for a newly-promoted team, Leicester have had the best start to a second tier season full stop.

The financial firepower of these two teams will be miles apart.

Kelechi Iheanancho, who was named on the substitutes’ bench, joined City from Manchester City in 2017 for a reported £24 million – a sum more than the combined market value for Town’s starting XI against the Foxes, as per Transfermarkt.

A comparison of Ipswich Town and Leicester City's market values for their starting XI on December 26, 2023

A comparison of Ipswich Town and Leicester City’s market values for their starting XI on December 26, 2023

Town fans sought a response after the 4-0 reality shock at Leeds United on Saturday and watched as the Blues started brightly against the league leaders.

Despite their energetic start, however, Stephy Mavididi was found with space on 24 minutes and curled beyond Vaclav Hladky to open the scoring for a Leicester side who have won 19 of the 21 times in which they have scored first.

Had it not been for some excellent defending, the Foxes could easily have had more too. Hladky did well to deny Patson Daka after Harry Clarke made up for a loose pass with a brilliant challenge on Leicester’s goalscorer.

Leicester were well in control going into the break but seemed to step off the gas after half-time.

Leif Davis, whose performance at Elland Road was certainly the nightmare before Christmas that the ex-Leeds United defender would have wanted to avoid, had a strike blocked and then Conor Chaplin had a firm drive that had to be pushed to safety.

The visitors had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall went down under pressure from Cameron Burgess.

The defender, who was recently included in the Australia squad for next month’s Asian Cup, certainly made contact with the Foxes’ attacking midfielder midway through the second half.

“We were so close to winning one more game but we expected to drop a little bit due to the amounts of the game [we have played],” said Enzo Maresca, the Leicester City boss.

“We had three or four chances one-on-one to score a goal. The last 10-15 minutes we conceded the control to Ipswich. There are moments we needed to be more clinical but I’m happy with a point.

“It’s not for me to decide, it’s the referee’s decision,” Maresca said of the penalty. “It was such a clear penalty at a crucial moment. I think the player was already booked so it would’ve been his second yellow at 1-0.

“It was a crucial moment. The referee has decided no penalty and so we continued.”

Deep into stoppage time Town were given another moment of fortune when skipper Sam Morsy drove forwards and watched as his shot was deflected off a Leicester boot, into the face of defender Jannik Vestergaard and wrong-footed Mads Hermansen.

“I thought it was a really good game against a really strong opponent,” Town boss Kieran McKenna said. “I was proud of the performance and would have been even if we had not scored.

“I really liked the character we showed and the quality of our play. It’s really hard to make high-quality chances against Leicester as they are such a good team.

“I thought our press and work rate off the ball was outstanding too. I thought it was an excellent performance and at least at value for the point we got.”

He added: “This is another good reinforcement of our identity, culture and style of play on and off the ball. So many of these players were here last year playing Oxford United and have come a long way since then.

“It’s another reinforcement of the journey we have come so far and shows we still have more improving to do. There are enough moments in the game that if our execution was better then we’d win the game. That’s the journey we want to continue.”

Unlike the disappointment of Town’s 2-2 draw with Norwich and 4-0 defeat in Yorkshire, this point is one from which those of the Blue persuasion are taking the positives from.

The gap to Leicester remains at six points but Leeds United’s defeat to Preston North End means they slipped to fourth and Town are now five points clear of Southampton. With a trip to Leicester City still to come this month and the Saints’ visit in April, it remains an incredibly exciting time to be a Blues fan.


About Author

When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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