Ipswich Town have signed Manchester City forward Liam Delap in a deal reportedly worth up to £20million.

Kieran McKenna's side confirmed their fourth first-team arrival on Saturday, with Delap joining on a five-year deal after Jacob Greaves' move from Hull City was announced the day before.

Delap and Greaves played together for the Tigers in the Championship last season, with the striker scoring eight goals in 32 appearances.

Ipswich have reportedly paid an initial £15m fee for the 21-year-old with a further potential for £5m in add-ons, as well as City holding a 20% sell-on clause on any future transfer.

"We are delighted to bring Liam to the club," McKenna told Ipswich's official website.

"We think he is a player with the qualities to help the team this season but also to be an important player for the club for many years to come. 

"He is a player with outstanding physical and technical attributes who has a hunger to come here and continue to learn and improve.

"He has gained good first-team experience from a young age and we feel he has the potential for development here."

Delap had previously endured less successful Championship loan spells with Stoke City and Preston North End, but found form under Liam Rosenior with Hull in the 2023-24 campaign.

His season was hampered by a cruel knee injury in January before returning to the squad as Hull narrowly missed out on the play-off positions.

Southampton were also said to be interested in the five-cap England Under-21 international, though Delap opted to follow Greaves to Ipswich, who have also brought in Omari Hutchinson and Ben Johnson already.

"I have heard so many good things about the feeling around the club, and how the players and staff work. That's exactly why I'm excited to be here," Delap said.

"The manager here likes to play exciting football. It's quick and intense and I am looking forward to that. I want to bring goals and assists and I'll work as hard as I can to help the team."

Ipswich Town have signed Omari Hutchinson from Chelsea on a permanent transfer for a club-record fee, with Ben Johnson also joining from West Ham.

Hutchinson, who cost a reported £20million with add-ons, penned a four-year deal with the club, after spending last season with them on loan in the Championship.

The youngster made 50 appearances in all competitions for Ipswich, scoring 11 goals and assisting six as he helped them secure promotion to the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the Tractor Boys also confirmed the signing of Johnson on a five-year contract in a free transfer on Monday.

The defender reportedly turned down a new contract at West Ham, instead choosing to leave when his current deal expired at the end of June.

Johnson went through the Hammers' youth academy, making 109 appearances for the senior team after making his debut in 2019.

Kieran McKenna is relishing the prospect of Ipswich Town starting life in the Premier League with matches against Liverpool and Manchester City.

Ipswich are back in the top flight after a 22-year absence, having won consecutive promotions from League One and the Championship under McKenna.

The Premier League fixtures for 2024-25 were announced on Tuesday, with Ipswich discovering they will start their campaign at home to Arne Slot's Liverpool on Saturday August 17.

Ipswich then play away to champions Man City, the winners of four straight league titles, on Matchday 2.

Despite being handed a daunting start on paper, McKenna cannot wait to get going.

"It is a fantastic start," he said to Sky Sports. "Everyone is going to be so excited, two of the biggest clubs in world football with a home start against Liverpool – it brings it all to life and it is an amazing start for us.

"We are delighted to have a home game first. We know the atmosphere that has been created over the last few years at this stadium and we know it will carry on, even more so this year.

"It's great to have a home start and to have one of the best teams in the league is for sure a big challenge. 

"Of course, they have a new manager, but we are not going to underestimate the scale of the challenges we are going to have all season.

"Certainly, Liverpool will be [a big challenge] on the first day but at the same time the atmosphere is going to be fantastic. The players will be as ready as they possibly can be and it is a game we will really look forward to."

Ipswich’s success led to McKenna being linked with major jobs at the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the aftermath of his team's promotion.

McKenna ultimately signed a new four-year contract to remain with Ipswich and is now determined to look forward.

"When you have had the success we have had over the last couple of years then there is going to be interest," said McKenna, who was previously assistant manager at Man Utd.

"Those are private decisions. In everyone's career, you have to weigh things up and see what's right for you and your family, and things like that. That's a natural process.

"There's always a professional decision to make but there's also always the personal decision to make.

"I'm so, so happy to have secured my future here at Ipswich. It's the first year in 22 years back in the Premier League. We're one of the first teams to get a double promotion back to the Premier League in a very long time and I wanted to be part of that.

"It's going to be an amazing season for the football club and I'm just so excited that I'm going to be the one leading the team out through those fixtures, and we'll work really hard to continue the journey we've been on.

"Of course those sorts of things happen naturally whenever clubs or players or staff members have success, but everyone is now just looking forward to the season ahead and the challenges we have.

"The club took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity at 35-years-old and we've had a fantastic couple of years together. It is a wonderful football club that I'm so proud to manage.

"I know we are going to give a really good account of ourselves."

After speculation about his future at the club, Kieran McKenna has signed a new four-year contract at Ipswich Town.

McKenna took over at Ipswich in December 2021, with the club in League One, and has since led them to back-to-back automatic promotions.

The Tractor Boys finished the Championship season in second, just one point behind champions Leicester City, to secure Premier League football for the first time in 22 years.

That feat also earned McKenna the League Managers Association’s Manager of the Year award, as he beat Pep Guardiola to the award.

Since then, the Northern Irishman has been linked to a move away from Ipswich, with Brighton, Chelsea and Manchester United all thought to be interested in him at some stage.

After signing his new contract, McKenna told the club website: "I am extremely proud to have signed a new contract with the club.  

"We have enjoyed incredible success together over the last two seasons and I'm excited to have the opportunity and responsibility of leading this fantastic club into its first season in the Premier League in 22 years.

"Preparation and planning for the challenge ahead has been ongoing since we won promotion at the beginning of May, with plenty of work still to do before the start of the new season at what is such an exciting time for everyone at the club. 

"I am so happy to have committed my future to taking the next step with Ipswich Town and am really excited for what's ahead as we continue this journey together.

Omari Hutchinson, an ex-Arsenal trainee who spent a stellar season-long loan with English Championship runners up Ipswich Town, appears to be on the move to the Netherlands.

The London-born Jamaican international is a wanted man by fallen Dutch giants Ajax and last term’s Eredivisie runners up Feyenoord, having impressed as a whizzy winger last season.

He plies his trade with big-spending English Premier League (EPL) outfit Chelsea. He was sent out to newly-promoted Ipswich as he was deemed to be surplus to requirements at the start of the campaign.

Hutchinson’s boss at Ipswich was Kieran McKenna, who is apparently on the shortlist of five head coaches to replace recently departed head coach Mauricio Pochettino. If McKenna becomes their in-coming coach, he may well insist on keeping Hutchinson at Chelsea.

McKenna and Hutchinson worked well together at Ipswich. The club were on fire with free-flowing football during their impressive campaign, which saw Hutchinson net ten goals.

Although Hutchinson returned to Chelsea, and immediately jetted off on vacation, he now finds the West London club managerless. In the background Dutch clubs clamour to take him on loan, with an option to buy at around €18 million (US$19m).

Hutchinson is one of two talented and young attacking Jamaican players with Chelsea, both tagged as a “wonderkid”. Dujuan “Whisper” Richards, 18, has yet to make his EPL debut but had been training this year with the first-team squad after impressing Pochettino.

Jamaica face 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against minnows Dominican Republic and Dominica next month, before tackling the 16-team CONMEBOL Copa America with group games against Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela.

Both Hutchinson and Richards are expected to be called up by head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson for the tournament extravaganza, which will be played in the United States (20 June-14 July).

Hutchinson has only made two appearances for the Reggae Boyz because Chelsea have never been keen for him to go on international duty.

He made his debut for Jamaica in their 6-0 humiliating defeat to Catalonia in an unofficial friendly in May 2022, and started in the 1-0 reversal to Trinidad & Tobago in March 2023. Former Phoenix All Stars Football Academy ace Richards is more of a veteran, with ten international appearances but just one goal for Jamaica.

For 20-year-old Hutchinson, voted Ipswich’s Young Player of the Season, the future looks promising to showcase his silky skills. He could be given the chance to shine on the Copa America stage, and then light up the top-flight in either the Netherlands or in England.

Until a new manager arrives at Chelsea everything is likely to remain up in the air about Hutchinson’s footballing future. Whoever Chelsea pick as their next head coach could scupper Hutchinson’s plans to leave the club, by giving the Jamaican a shot at grabbing glory in the EPL.

 

 

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna is blocking out speculation linking him with the vacant posts at Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion.

McKenna has earned plaudits after leading Ipswich to back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League, ending the Tractor Boys' 22-year exile from the top flight.

His outstanding work has led to suggestions he is a target for other clubs, with Brighton and Hove Albion being linked with a move after Roberto De Zerbi left the club.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, reports suggested he was a possible contender to take over at Chelsea after Mauricio Pochettino surprisingly left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent.

McKenna saw off competition from Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Sean Dyche, Unai Emery and John Mousinho to win the League Managers Association's Manager of the Year award on Tuesday, and his focus is simply on celebrating Ipswich's achievements.

"When you do well as a manager, or as a player, there's always going to be speculation," McKenna said at Tuesday's awards ceremony.

"What we've achieved is no ordinary thing so of course there's going to be speculation. That's not where my focus is, to be honest.

"It's been a wonderful couple of years and tonight is about celebrating that. Everyone's looking forward to next season and I know the club's going to be in a really good place."

McKenna has also been tentatively linked with a return to Manchester United, where he spent five years as a coach with the academy and the first team, as Erik ten Hag's position continues to be questioned.

Former Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson presented McKenna with his award on Tuesday, which he described as "one of the most humbling and proudest moments" of his life. 

"It's the best thing in the world and I've had good experience as a first-team coach, but to be a manager in the Premier League and go up against great managers is going to be a great challenge and something I can't wait for," he added.

Ipswich Town secured their return to the Premier League after a 22-year absence by seeing off Huddersfield Town 2-0 at Portman Road on Saturday.

Kieran McKenna's side, who only earned promotion from League One last year, required a point on the final day of regular-season fixtures.

Wes Burns put Ipswich on their way with a 27th-minute strike, before Omar Hutchinson sealed the deal early in the second period.

As it turned out, even a loss would have seen Town go up as Leeds failed to pick up the three points they needed in a 2-1 loss to Southampton.

Joel Piroe cancelled out Adam Armstrong's goal, but Will Smallbone restored the visitors' lead before half-time at Elland Road and at it remained that way.

Leeds will now face Norwich City in the play-offs after the Canaries dropped from fifth to sixth with a 1-0 loss to Birmingham City.

West Brom's 3-0 win over Preston North End ensured they finished the season in fifth, meaning a play-off semi-final date with Southampton.

Despite their home win over Norwich, Birmingham joined Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town in being relegated to the third tier.

That is due to Plymouth Argyle defeating top-six chasers Hull City 1-0, while Sheffield Wednesday eased to a 2-0 victory at Sunderland.

Rotherham's relegation was confirmed last month, while Huddersfield were effectively already down barring a miraculous set of results on the final day.

Ipswich Town took a huge step to Premier League promotion after Cameron Burgess snatched a second-half winner in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Coventry City.

Kieran McKenna's side require just one point from their final Championship game against League One-bound Huddersfield Town to go up, after a decisive victory at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Kieffer Moore blasted in an eighth-minute opener for the visitors after Wes Burns' crafty cutback pass, easing the pressure on Ipswich and dampening the top-two hopes of third-placed Leeds United.

Haji Wright levelled in the second half, only for Burgess to squeeze a winning goal past Bradley Collins five minutes later, putting Ipswich on the brink of top-flight football for the first time since their relegation in 2002.

A draw against Huddersfield, who are 23rd and three points adrift of safety, would secure promotion at Portman Road, marking just the fourth instance of back-to-back promotions in the Premier League era.

Having managed to climb out of League One, McKenna's entertaining side would join Watford, rivals Norwich City and Southampton as the only sides to achieve the feat.

Data Debrief: Ipswich end winless run at perfect time

Prior to this game, only five teams had won fewer points in the Championship than Ipswich's six since the beginning of April (W1 D3 L1).

Yet McKenna's men refused to let their top-flight push derail as the Tractor Boys ended a four-game winless run to move within touching distance of history.

Ipswich Town missed the chance to move into an automatic promotion spot as play-off-chasing Hull City came from behind three times in a thrilling 3-3 Championship draw at The MKM Stadium.

Ipswich knew a victory would take them second after Leeds United were surprisingly beaten 4-0 by Queens Park Rangers on Friday, and they led on three separate occasions, George Hirst opening the scoring before Omari Hutchinson produced two brilliant strikes from the edge of the area.

However, buoyed by slip-ups from rivals Norwich City and West Brom earlier on Saturday, Hull dug deep to fight back on each occasion, Ozan Tufan and Liam Delap scoring their first two equalisers.

With Liam Rosenior's men 3-2 down with just four minutes to play, substitute Noah Ohio blasted his shot in off the crossbar to punish an error from Ipswich goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky.

The result keeps Ipswich behind second-placed Leeds on goal difference, though the Tractor Boys have a game in hand to come at Coventry City on Tuesday.

Hull, meanwhile, are two points adrift of the top six, with Norwich's goal difference advantage meaning their top-six spot is all but assured. The Tigers will, however, leapfrog West Brom if they beat Plymouth Argyle on the final day and Albion lose to Preston North End. 

Data Debrief: Hutchinson's best not enough

Hutchinson was a man who deserved to be on the winning side on Saturday, giving Ryan Allsop no chance with two near-identical left-footed strikes from the right corner of the penalty area.

His goals came from an expected goals (xG) total of just 0.6, and he led all players on the pitch for shots (eight) and passes in the final third (21), also laying on three chances for his team-mates.

Leicester City are once more a Premier League team, having bounced straight back after relegation last season.

The Foxes secured automatic promotion without kicking a ball, as title rivals Leeds United lost 4-0 away to Queens Park Rangers on Friday.

Marti Cifuentes' Hoops side gave their fans a reason to cheer in their final home game of the season, and the emphatic win means they are now seven points clear of the relegation zone.

The Hoops boss told BBC Sport: "I came here, perhaps I was crazy thinking we could manage the great escape.

"The atmosphere has been unbelievable since I came here. Everybody thought tonight could be a special night to achieve our target.

"Big players deliver big performances and our players all did that tonight."

Defeat ensured only Ipswich Town can now finish above Leicester, meaning the Foxes will be back in the big time.

Ipswich, who have three games left to play, face play-off hopefuls Hull City on Saturday.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Leeds boss Daniel Farke said: "It's not in our hands any more [automatic promotion], we need to be honest.

"The race is not over. If Ipswich win the next two games then I will say congratulations, but if they don’t win them then we will have a lot to play for.

"As long as we have a chance, I’m far away from giving up."

Leicester could be crowned champions if they beat Preston North End on Monday and if Hull beat Ipswich.

The Foxes are looking to break the 100-point barrier, despite a wobble from Enzo Maresca's side in recent months.

After they had been so far ahead and top for all but two of the 176 days between 23 September and 17 March, an untimely dip in form handed Leeds and Ipswich hope.

However, while Leicester celebrate their promotion, they face the daunting prospect of starting next season with a points deduction, after they were charged by the Premier League with alleged breaches of the competition's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

Portsmouth sealed a Sky Bet Championship return on Tuesday with a 3-2 win over Barnsley and several other teams still have plenty to play for as another enthralling domestic season draws to a close.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the promotion and relegation issues up and down the country.

Premier League

Neutrals are gripped by the first three-way title race in the top flight for a long time. Another twist occurred last weekend as champions Manchester City returned to the summit on Saturday, before Arsenal and Liverpool suffered shock home defeats on Sunday. With six games left, Pep Guardiola’s side hold a two-point lead over the Gunners and Reds.

At the other end, an intriguing relegation battle continues – on and off the pitch. Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton occupy the bottom three spots and, while the race appears almost run for the Blades and the Clarets have an uphill task to stay up, the Hatters’ survival hopes remain alive. Nottingham Forest and Everton – in 17th and 16th, respectively – are within touching distance, as both clubs wait to learn their fates after appealing against points deductions over breaches of financial rules.

Championship

It has been a rollercoaster ride for supporters’ of Ipswich, Leicester, Leeds and Southampton this season, especially in recent weeks. With only a handful of matches left, Kieran McKenna’s Tractor Boys are top on 89 points, with the second-placed Foxes a point behind with a game in hand. However, that fixture is against fourth-placed Saints, who are not out of the top-two race themselves with a four-point deficit to previously runaway leaders Leicester. Leeds sit third, with all four still in with a shot of automatic promotion spot.

Rotherham’s relegation to League One has already been confirmed, but two more spaces need to be finalised. Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield are in the bottom three on 44 points each. Birmingham sit one point above the two Yorkshire clubs, while Stoke, QPR, Plymouth and Blackburn would not consider themselves safe as they remain below the 50-point mark.

League One

 

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After Pompey claimed the title on Tuesday, all eyes are on which club will be runners-up. Derby are second on 86 points with a three-point gap to Bolton, but Peterborough, with a game in hand, cannot be ruled out despite a six-point deficit to the second-placed Rams. Everything could be settled this weekend.

Carlisle are already consigned to the fourth tier and Fleetwood’s defeat at Peterborough left them six points from safety with only two games to go. Port Vale are 22nd on 40 points, while Cheltenham are 21st on 41 points, but crucially have a match in hand. It means Burton, especially, and Cambridge are still looking over their shoulders, with the former only two points above the bottom four and the latter holding a five-point advantage along with a game in hand.

League Two

Mansfield joined Stockport and Wrexham in clinching promotion to League One on Tuesday, but there is still one relegation spot to be determined. Colchester’s win over Grimsby ended the survival hopes of Forest Green and gave the victors a four-point advantage over 23rd-placed Sutton along with a game in hand. Sutton need to win their last two matches and hope both Grimsby and Colchester fail to win again this season.

Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna was “proud” of his team’s performance in the thrilling 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough which put them one point clear at the top of the Championship.

Town went into the game looking to take advantage after seeing automatic promotion rivals Leicester and Leeds lose to Plymouth and Blackburn respectively.

Boro took the lead after 20 minutes through a header from Emmanuel Latte Lath but Town struck back 10 minutes later when Massimo Luongo crashed home a corner by Leif Davis.

Ipswich goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky produced two wonderful saves, firstly from Isaiah Jones and then Matt Clarke, to keep the scores level.

McKenna said: “Frustration isn’t my feeling at the moment. Maybe it will be tomorrow but at the moment it’s pride around the performance.

“I thought it was a brilliant game, I thought the performance was excellent against a good side and I was really proud of how we went about our business really.

“I thought we played brilliant, we played confident, tactically it was a really good battle, we created plenty of chances to win the game and I thought it was a really good performance.

“Over the course of the last two games could we have had an couple of extra points, for sure we could we have lost today, Vaz (Hladky) produces a great save at the end.

“The players have given everything and what’s more pleasing for me is the performance and at the end of the season we will get as many points that we get, I don’t think they are going to leave an ounce of effort out there.

“I really liked the way we went about our business and at the end of the day we pick up a point from a really good performance and we have a little bit of recovery now and look forward to last week and three great games.”

Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick was happy with a share of the spoils in the end.

He said: “It’s a tough place to come and you can see they’re a really good team, confidence is high and they’re in a really good place.

“Their record here is really good so it was always going to be challenging to come here, which makes it probably a decent point in isolation.

“But, for us, we came here to win and we wanted to win, so it’s a bit of mixed feelings really overall.

“We know what we needed [as far as play-off hopes were concerned]. It doesn’t change what we do for the next game, though.

“We want to finish the season strongly and continue to do the right things. We’re on a decent run at the moment and we want to try and keep building on that. The aim is to just try and keep winning football matches really.

“There are a lot of good things again. There are things we need to improve upon and be better at but there are some good things that we can take from it.

“We’ve been doing that for a number of games now which is pleasing. But we still want to be coming to places like this and winning. We tried to but we just didn’t quite pull it off.”

The Championship’s promotion race continues to head towards one of the most dramatic finishes in its history after the division’s three leading teams all failed to win their midweek matches.

Leicester are top on goal difference and have a game in hand on second-placed Ipswich, while Leeds sit a point behind in third.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the race could play out.

Leicester (1st, played 41, 88 points, +42 goal difference)

Run-in: Plymouth (a), West Brom (h), Southampton (h), Preston (a), Blackburn (h).

Leicester looked virtually promoted two months ago and were 17 points ahead of Leeds at the turn of the year.

However, a 3-1 loss at Elland Road in February was damaging – it followed a home defeat to Middlesbrough – and Tuesday night’s setback at relegation battlers Millwall means they have now been beaten in five of their last nine league matches.

Their rivals both dropped points in midweek to leave them in pole position with a precious game in hand, but the Foxes must regroup quickly as they look anxiously over their shoulder.

Ipswich (2nd, P42, 88pts, +32GD)

Run-in: Middlesbrough (h), Hull (a), Coventry (a), Huddersfield (h).

It is easy to forget this is Ipswich’s first season back in the Championship and when they scored a winner in the seventh minute of added time against Southampton at the start of this month, back-to-back promotions felt closer than ever.

But that win was followed by a 1-0 defeat at derby rivals Norwich and after Leicester and Leeds had both dropped points on Tuesday, they missed the chance to climb back into top spot as they were held to a goalless draw at home to Watford.

And their next three fixtures are against sides bidding for a play-off place.

Leeds (3rd, P42, 87pts, +43GD)

Run-in: Blackburn (h), Middlesbrough (a), QPR (a), Southampton (h).

Daniel Farke’s men were unbeaten in the league in 2024 until last weekend when that run was halted at play-off chasing Coventry.

Leeds remain undefeated at home all season, but they were further frustrated on Tuesday in a goalless draw against Sunderland at Elland Road.

In Crysencio Summerville they have the division’s outstanding player with 17 goals and eight assists, but Leeds must quickly rediscover their creative flair after one win in their last four games has allowed fourth-placed Southampton to close the gap on them to nine points with two games in hand.

Kieran McKenna was happy to draw on the positives and praised Ipswich’s focus even though they missed out on the chance to go top of the Sky Bet Championship following a stalemate at home to Watford.

Town were eager to bounce back from Saturday’s 1-0 loss at bitter foes Norwich and had watched promotion rivals Leicester and Leeds drop points on Tuesday.

It meant victory for Ipswich would have sent them to the summit but a dominant first-half failed to bring a crucial opener with Nathan Broadhead firing against the inside of the post after 36 minutes before Daniel Bachmann denied Kieffer Moore’s flying header just before the break.

While home substitute Ali Al-Hamadi had a late effort deflected wide, Ipswich struggled to fashion chances in the second period and almost lost in stoppage-time when Edo Kayembe’s clearance from inside his own half nearly caught out Vaclav Hladky.

McKenna’s side instead had to settle for a point, which at least moved them back above Leeds with four matches to go and Middlesbrough the next visitors to Portman Road on Saturday.

“First half we created a couple of what would have been really good goals for us but it just wasn’t our night in terms of going into the back of the net,” McKenna reflected.

“We take the positives from the performance. I thought you could see in our performance in the first half, we played with no tension, no worries.

“I thought it was a really good performance and it didn’t look like it was the 41st game or the 14th game. We just played as us and that’s what we want to do.

“Our focus is just on the next game. Every game is really hard-fought, every point is hard won and we’ve had to fight really hard to win one tonight.

“We know it’ll take a hell of an effort and a hell of a performance to get anything on Saturday as well, so that is where our focus is.

“Not on anyone else or the table, it is just on trying to get ready for the next game and it certainly takes that in this division and this group have done that really well.”

Tom Cleverley expressed his pride after he watched Watford extend their unbeaten run to five games under his short managerial tenure.

The Hornets have now claimed draws with Leeds, West Brom and Ipswich since Cleverley was appointed interim boss on March 9 and targeted three points from this weekend’s trip to Southampton.

Cleverley added: “I’m incredibly proud of the group.

“Three clean sheets in five and that’s a solid foundation moving forward.

“We’re setting small markers down with the draw against Leeds, the draw away at West Brom and now the draw away at Ipswich.

“Now we want to put one big marker down with a win away at Southampton on Saturday and that is the challenge we face.”

On Kayembe’s 95th-minute lobbed effort, Cleverley admitted: “That would have been the best goal I’ve ever been present for.”

Ipswich missed out on the chance to take over at the Sky Bet Championship summit but did move up to second after they were held to a goalless draw at home to Watford.

After promotion rivals Leicester and Leeds dropped points on Tuesday, victory for Kieran McKenna’s men would have been the perfect tonic to Saturday’s 1-0 loss at bitter foes Norwich.

However, Tom Cleverley’s Watford proved stubborn opponents and Town had to settle for a point, which does lift them above Leeds with four games left in the battle to secure automatic promotion.

Ipswich were eager to bounce back from their East Anglian derby defeat and McKenna made four changes but watched his team almost fall behind after eight minutes.

Watford youngster Yaser Asprilla tried his luck from by the halfway line although, much to the relief of goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky, it sailed a few inches over.

Town dominated possession and created their first chance when the recalled Harry Clarke burst forward and passed into Kieffer Moore, who teed up Nathan Broadhead but his low effort was saved by Daniel Bachmann.

Moore went close himself after 28 minutes when Kayden Jackson raced away down the right but his cross was swept wide by the Bournemouth loanee.

Ipswich impressively fashioned another chance eight minutes later when Hutchinson passed out wide to Broadhead, whose left-footed strike hit the inside of the post and rolled across the goal line to safety.

The Hornets were on the ropes and the next opportunity for the hosts was inadvertently blocked by Broadhead, who got in the way of a Jack Taylor shot.

After Bachmann had watched Ipswich lay siege to his goal, the Austrian stopper sprung into action three minutes before half-time with a superb save to deny a flying header by Moore from Clarke’s cross.

It ensured it was goalless at the break but Watford provided a reminder of their threat early in the second period when Asprilla sent in a dipping effort that Hladky could only parry away.

McKenna had seen enough and made a triple substitution with 26 minutes left.

The tension around Portman Road was palpable and gaps started to open up but Hladky thwarted Jamal Lewis’ low effort before Ipswich captain Sam Morsy slid in to deny Ismael Kone’s follow-up.

Town substitute Ali Al-Hamadi had a late shot deflected wide before Watford almost stole the points but Hladky batted away Edo Kayembe’s speculative effort deep into stoppage-time.

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