A late David McGoldrick goal condemned Leicester City to a narrow npower Championship defeat at the hands of Ipswich Town on Saturday.
In a game of few chances for both sides, McGoldrick made the most of substitute Daryl Murphy’s ball to finish past Kasper Schmeichel with just five minutes left and give Mick McCarthy’s side all three points at Portman Road.
City did have opportunities to take the lead themselves, with Harry Kane seeing a first-half strike chalked off for offside, before firing wide after a misplaced back pass on 57 minutes.
But the hosts made the most of their late chance as despite a gritty performance, City were left empty-handed with focus now on Tuesday’s crucial King Power Stadium clash against Leeds United.
Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson stuck with the same starting XI that performed so well in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Blackburn, with Chris Wood and Kane leading the line in a 4-4-2 formation.
David Nugent missed out through a neck injury along with Matty James, as the best defence in the league faced off against the lowest scoring attack with just 34 goals, including one in their previous four.
Former Leicester City defender Richard Stearman started at right back for the hosts, who also named ex-Fox Patrick Kisnorbo on the bench in a squad looking to banish the memories of City’s 6-0 victory in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
In a changed strip of white shirts and navy shorts, it was a quiet but comfortable opening 10 minutes from Pearson’s men, with the only chance coming via a speculative Ben Marshall effort from 25 yards which was easily gathered by Town ‘keeper Stephen Henderson.
With the game starved of chances, a solid looking Ipswich defence was managing to keep The Foxes at bay, without really threatening themselves.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater was seeing plenty of the ball in the central areas, but it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that City went close – Anthony Knockaert’s pass putting Kane in with a sight of goal only for the Spurs loan man to drag his effort wide.
Ipswich’s midfield man Lee Martin then had an effort deflected wide before Kane went agonisingly close with a chance of his own making just before the half-hour mark.
The 19-year-old shrugged off the challenge of Tommy Smith as he surged into the box and nodded the ball down to tee up a right footed strike, but it hit the side netting as City got closer to the opener.
However with half time approaching, the tide looked like it might be turning in Ipswich’s favour after a flurry of chances.
Michael Chopra forced a good reaction save with from Schmeichel with an improvised flick, before the City ‘keeper again had to be called into action to tip a Luke Chambers header away at full stretch from a corner kick.
On the stroke of 45 minutes Kane thought he had stolen a crucial lead for his team when he stabbed the ball home from all of a yard, but the assistant’s flag went up, adjudging the striker to have been marginally offside when Knockaert’s well-placed header came across the six-yard box.
Neither side made any changes at half time in a second 45 minutes that opened with Knockaert earning himself a yellow card for kicking the ball away.
With less than five minutes of the half played Ipswich sprung into life as McGoldrick was played in down the right, driving a powerful effort low at goal from an angle, but fortunately for City Schmeichel got something on it to deny him a goal.
The hosts were beginning to build up a head of steam in the early stages on the second period, but gifted Leicester a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 57th minute.
Under pressure from Wood, Town centre half Chambers played an awful back pass to his goalkeeper that fell straight into the path of Kane, only for the striker’s first-time right foot finish to fall the wrong side of the post when one-on-one with Henderson.
Pearson then introduced winger Lloyd Dyer for Knockaert in the 66th minute and Paul Gallagher for Ben Marshall shortly afterwards in an attempt to gain any kind of edge in what was turning out to be a tight match.
But with the game increasingly stretched, neither side could find what was needed to break the deadlock, despite Wood heading over from a free-kick at the far post and Drinkwater firing over from range.
Town No9 Jay Emmanuel-Thomas then entered the fray at the expense of Martin, with both sides sensing that a late goal would probably steal all three points.
That moment arrived in the 85th minute, and unfortunately for The Foxes, it fell to the home side.
Substitute Murphy slid a neat pass through the City defence to McGoldrick, who made no mistake with his finish, sliding a left-footed strike underneath Schmeichel to make it 1-0.
A spirited Leicester threw everything they had forward in an effort to snatch a late equaliser in the five minutes of allotted injury time, but when Andy King’s goal-bound volley was valiantly blocked by Emmanuel-Thomas the referee blew the whistle on a disappointing defeat for The Foxes.
Ipswich (4-4-2): Henderson, Cresswell, Chambers, Stearman, Edwards (c), N’Daw, Chopra (Murphy 80), Martin (Emmanuel-Thomas 80), McGoldrick, Hyam, Smith
Unused subs: Loach, Kisnorbo, Drury, Mclean, Nouble
City (4-4-2):Schmeichel, De Laet, Konchesky, Drinkwater, Morgan (c), Marshall (Gallagher 69), King, Keane, Knockaert (Dyer 66), Kane, Wood
Unused subs: Logan, Whitbread, Vardy, Waghorn, Wellens
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)