Leif Davis’ 31st-minute own goal was a reward for a dominant first half from Enzo Maresca’s men, who were on top for large spells on Filbert Way. The Tractor Boys, who now return into second place, grew into this top-of-the-table contest and were level through a Jeremy Sarmiento leveller in the 89th minute. The Foxes remain seven points ahead at the summit with a vastly superior goal difference to the chasing pack, who continue to keep the leaders in their sights. It was a frustrating ending, similar to the last meeting of these sides in December, denying Leicester a 22nd win of the season.
Maresca, watching from the stands as part of a one-game touchline suspension, made two enforced changes to his starting XI. Abdul Fatawu, serving the first of a three-game ban, was replaced by Academy graduate Kasey McAteer, while Hamza Choudhury came in for Cesare Casadei, who was recalled from his loan by Chelsea in the week. The 31,794 crowd was the biggest of the season at King Power Stadium and the atmosphere matched the occasion on a big night in the second tier.
City were ahead after a Leif Davis own goal in the first half.
Tom Cannon was a menace early on for Kieran McKenna’s visitors, who had been usurped by Southampton in the top two during the weekend. Harry Clarke halted his route to goal in City’s first push forwards, before Lewis Travis stopped the former Everton man from testing Václav Hladky after the Ipswich goalkeeper’s short pass was cut out. Harry Winks, meanwhile, saw a right-footed curler deflected into Hladky’s grasp early on as well. The Tractor Boys were tracking back on 17 minutes when Ricardo Pereira burst forward on the left channel. The Portuguese, the hosts' captain for the night, dragged the ball back to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall in space on the edge of the box. The Academy graduate, though, was caught in two minds and his pass was too heavy for Cannon.
A vital Luke Woolfenden block then prevented Cannon from hitting the target as the Foxes piled early pressure on. Twenty-six minutes in, Choudhury unleashed a brilliant curled hit on the left angle of the box. The Loughborough-born midfielder hit it sweetly, but Hladky leapt across his line and palmed it around the far post. Ipswich’s first true opportunity landed at the feet of Conor Chaplin moments later, but he blazed over just inside Mads Hermansen’s area. Leicester were undoubtedly the early aggressors in this contest though. Inventive one-two play between Stephy Mavididi and Ricardo unlocked Town’s defence just after the half-hour. Mavididi’s cross into the thick of it missed its intended targets, but bounced off Davis’ thigh and past Hladky. Maresca’s philosophy was paying dividends again – there were 40 passes in the build up to City’s opener.
The biggest home crowd of the season were in attendance on Monday.
The pressure continued as the half wore on. Jannik Vestergaard’s header needed saving after a looping Dewsbury-Hall corner. Ricardo half-volleyed a daisy-cutter wide later on and McAteer belted over as well. Another decent Hladky stop was required to stop Cannon’s powerful drive from 18 yards with City very much on top before the break. It had been a domineering start from Maresca’s leaders, but another 45 minutes offered a route back into it for Ipswich. The side from Suffolk came out with intent and only a super Hermansen stop denied Wes Burns an acrobatic equaliser for the visitors. Leicester seemed to have settled back into the game after a nervy opening five minutes. Travis, on loan at Ipswich from Blackburn Rovers, then nodded James Justin’s header off the line.
Enzo Maresca watches on from the stands.
It was getting feisty out there, with both Massimo Luongo and Clarke shown quick-fire yellow cards. Ipswich were trying to wrestle back some control over possession and it was working, but City did have chances to win it. A corner on 70 minutes was their next sight of goal. Mavididi’s low hit was saved well before Cannon swung an over-head kick over Hladky’s crossbar. A penalty appeal from Dewsbury-Hall was ignored by the referee shortly afterwards, before Cannon’s rifled effort was turned behind by the Town ‘keeper. There were loud cries for a penalty from the away end on 82 minutes, meanwhile, as Justin’s clearance bounced up off Vestergaard’s leg and onto his arm. The Dane will have been relieved to see only a corner signalled. It was becoming end to end late on. Hladky smothered the ball just in time to stop McAteer applying a finish to substitute Yunus Akgün’s through-ball. Jamie Vardy, an addition from the bench, was another option for the Turk, just off to his left.
Ipswich had undoubtedly improved and were knocking on the door. They were racing forwards in numbers, with a number of Town substitutes making their mark, especially Nathan Broadhead. In the 89th minute, Luongo belted the ball at goal, forcing an improvised save from Hermansen. Sarmiento, though, was loitering in the box, onside, and ready to capitalise on the rebound. There he was to prod the ball past the City ‘keeper and rescue a point for McKenna’s high-flying side. Disappointment for Leicester, who remain seven points clear at the top. Fifty-four points to play for.
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