Ipswich Town returned to the top of the Championship table, but they were held to a 1-1 draw at Portman Road by in-form Middlesbrough.

The Blues fell behind in the first half as Emmanuel Latte Lath headed home from close range, but they responded well as Massimo Luongo smashed the ball into the net from a corner just 10 minutes later. They rallied late on, but had to settle for a point after Leicester City and Leeds United were beaten elsewhere in the promotion race.

Ipswich started well, looking calm and collected despite results elsewhere. Their first real chance came in the sixth minute as Jeremy Sarmiento’s run from the left allowed Conor Chaplin to fire a deflected shot out for a corner, with the latter firing a tricky first-time shot wide of the target from about three yards out.

East Anglian Daily Times: Jeremy Sarmiento made his first league start since March 9thJeremy Sarmiento made his first league start since March 9th (Image: Stephen Waller)

They kept pushing. Sarmiento and Omari Hutchinson both had good opportunities to open the scoring, but the former saw his long-range shot saved by Seny Dieng before the Chelsea loanee curled a shot over the bar.

Boro don’t care about having possession. They thrive on the counter, and they threatened in the 14th minute as Isaiah Jones was given a free run at goal, setting up Latte Lath to have a quick shot at goal which Vaclav Hladky saved.

Town didn’t heed the warning, and they fell behind in the 20th minute as Luke Ayling’s curling cross from the right found the head of Latte Lath, who headed low into the ground to open the scoring.

East Anglian Daily Times: Emmanuel Latte Lath opened the scoring in the first halfEmmanuel Latte Lath opened the scoring in the first half (Image: Stephen Waller)

They struggled to get to grips with the immediate aftermath of the game after that. It became scrappier, which suited Middlesbrough, who were conceding countless chances in the early stages. The visitors started to grow in confidence.

The Portman Road factor is certainly a real thing. The crowd roared as Leif Davis rushed down the left flank in the 28th minute, firing a cross which was dummied by Chaplin, allowing Hutchinson to take a touch before curling a shot over the bar from the right.

Axel Tuanzebe pounced on the resulting goal kick and delivered a cross from the right which was deflected out by former Ipswich defender Matt Clarke. There were strong shouts for a penalty for hand ball, but referee Sam Allison said no, instead awarding a corner.

East Anglian Daily Times: Massimo Luongo bagged the equaliser against his former sideMassimo Luongo bagged the equaliser against his former side (Image: Stephen Waller)

It was that set piece that gave Kieran McKenna’s men a way back into the game. Leif Davis’ 17th assist of the season saw him pick out the onrushing Luongo, who rifled the ball into the net off the crossbar from point-blank range, equalising on the half-hour mark.

Both teams had chances before the break. Chaplin tried to catch Dieng off his line before being brought down inside the box by Rav van den Berg, while Latte Lath saw two shots at goal blocked from close range.

The second half started in the same way the first one ended. It was incredibly open, but neither side created too many chances. That being said, Hutchinson was presented with a glorious opportunity to fire his side ahead in the 53rd minute as he beat Lukas Engel, but the left-back recovered in time to make the block before Boro cleared the resulting corner.

East Anglian Daily Times: Omari Hutchinson switched back to the right wingOmari Hutchinson switched back to the right wing (Image: Ross Halls)

A double substitution just before the hour-mark saw Kieffer Moore and Nathan Broadhead introduced, but it did little to swing the momentum one way or the other. Middlesbrough introduced Sam Greenwood soon after, and he was almost immediately presented with a good chance to beat Hladky from distance, forcing the goalkeeper into an impressive save.

Although Ipswich looked the likelier to score as the clock ticked into the 80th minute, Middlesbrough had two chances to shatter the mood at Portman Road. First, Luke Woolfenden was caught out by the bounce of a goal kick, allowing Latte Lath to run through and goal before Jones was denied by an outstanding save from Hladky.

The goalkeeper went one better as Boro recycled it to Clarke, who seemed destined to score with a powerful header from point-blank range. Somehow, Hladky tipped it over.

East Anglian Daily Times: Vaclav Hladky made two astonishing saves to preserve a point for IpswichVaclav Hladky made two astonishing saves to preserve a point for Ipswich (Image: Steve Waller)

Town pushed hard towards the end, but like the clash against Watford, it just wasn't to be. Five minutes of stoppage time passed quickly as Town were left delighted by their league position despite missing an opportunity to open a gap on the chasing pack.

Town XI: 4-2-3-1: Hladky; Tuanzebe (Ball 89'), Woolfenden, Burgess, Davis; Morsy, Luongo (Taylor 77'); Hutchinson, Chaplin (Travis 89'), Sarmiento (Broadhead 59'); Al-Hamadi (Moore 5')

Middlesbrough XI: 4-2-3-1: Dieng; Ayling, Van den Berg, Clarke, Engel; Howson (Barlaser 85'), O’Brien; Jones, Azaz, Silvera (Greenwood 68'); Latte Lath

Attendance: 28,771 (1,324 away)