Tight at the top as Ipswich lead Championship

In Sports
April 02, 2024


Ipswich were left with a slender one-point lead at the top of the Championship on Monday as the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League headed towards a thrilling finale.

Leeds left it late to see off Hull 3-1 in the final Championship fixture of the day as they went second in the table, just a point behind Ipswich.

And Leicester reignited their bid for automatic promotion with a 3-1 win at home to Norwich.

They ended the day in third place, a point behind Leeds and two adrift of Ipswich but with a game in hand.

Only the top two clubs at the end of the regular season are guaranteed a place in the Premier League, with the teams finishing third to sixth involved in the post-season play-offs that determine the other promoted side.

Jeremy Sarmiento proved to be a ‘super sub’ after scoring a stoppage-time winner as Ipswich, briefly nudged off top spot by Leicester, returned to the summit with a dramatic 3-2 win at home to Southampton.

It seemed as if goals from Che Adams and Adam Armstrong had put Southampton on course for victory following Leif Davis’s well-struck opener for Ipswich.

But Ipswich, who’ve now won 31 points from losing positions this season, again proved to be masters of the comeback.

Nathan Broadhead equalised in the 68th minute before Southampton’s Jason Bree was sent off in the 85th minute for dragging back Davis.

Ipswich’s attitude was summed up when Sarmiento, despite a slip, struck in the seventh and final minute of stoppage time to spark delirious scenes at Portman Road.

“It was right up there,” said Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna. “It was another brilliant day, brilliant match to be involved in.”

Defeat effectively ended Southampton’s hopes of automatic promotion, with manager Russell Martin lamenting: “We were the best team, we didn’t deserve to lose.”

Leeds also left it late to reclaim second place at Elland Road.

Goals from Sam Byram and Fabio Carvalho cancelled each other out but an 88th-minute penalty from Crysencio Summerville and Dan James’ effort deep in stoppage-time made the game safe for Leeds.

James’s strike, with Hull goalkeeper Ryan Allsop off his line as the Tigers went in search of an equaliser, capped a difficult week for the Wales winger after he had a penalty saved in a shoot-out loss to Poland that denied his country a place at Euro 2024.

“There was no doubt this was a well-deserved win…but it was a complicated game for us,” Leeds manager Daniel Farke told the BBC.

“For many of my players it was their third game in six days because they’ve played on Tuesday or Wednesday on international duty.”

Goals from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Stephy Mavididi and Jamie Vardy enabled Leicester to complete a comeback after Gabriel Sara gave Norwich the lead.

Leicester have topped the table for much of the season, but Monday’s success was just their third win in eight league games, with Foxes boss Enzo Maresca saying: “This was important, because we are in the final part of the season.”

At the other end of the table, Rotherham staved off relegation for at least another week by beating Millwall 2-1 as they ended a run of 15 games without a win courtesy of just their fourth league victory of the season.

Birmingham moved two points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over play-off hopefuls Preston, Jay Stansfield scoring the only goal of the game.

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