MATCH REPORT: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Ipswich Town 1

Sheffield Weds v Ipswich: IPSWICH Town are on the verge of Championship safety following a hard-fought 1-1 draw at fellow relegation-fighters Sheffield Wednesday.

The Blues deservedly led at half-time through Jay Tabb’s 12th minute goal, but the introduction of veteran target man Steve Howard sparked the hosts into life and they levelled things up through Leroy Lita just before the hour mark.

Ipswich are now 14th in the table, six points clear of the drop zone with two games to play. It would taken an incredible set of circumstances to go against them for relegation to happen.

Town – full of confidence following their 3-0 midweek home win over Crystal Palace – started brightly, with Danny Pugh clearing off the line after Luke Chambers had headed a Tabb corner beyond keeper Chris Kirkland in the fifth minute.

The Blues broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Miguel Llera misjudged Carlos Edwards’ long throw and the ball crept over line at the near post after striking Tabb’s knee.

Kirkland did well to tip over Luke Hyam’s well-hot volley from the edge of the box in the 18th minute.

And the home crowd began to voice their frustration when Dave Jones made two substitutions before the half hour mark – the first tactical, the second enforced.

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With Chambers and Tommy Smith dominating in the air, Jones decided to bring on veteran target man Steve Howard for right-winger Kieran Lee. Four minutes later, Jermaine Johnson was forced to limp off with his problematic hamstring going once more.

Wednesday did finish the half well though as route one tactics began to create some havoc for Ipswich. Howard headed one corner over the bar, while keeper Scott Loach and Smith combined to scramble the ball away as the half came to a close.

Wednesday carried that form into the second half and it took a great saving challenge from Chambers to prevent Llera finishing off another fine Howard flick-on, the 36-year-old Hartlepool loanee creating all sorts of problems.

The leveller arrived just before the hour mark when Lita rammed the ball home at the back post after Buxton’s excellent cross from the by-line had flicked off the heads of a number of challenging players.

Hillsborough was suddenly rocking and moments later Llera glanced a Maguire corner inches wide.

Town’s cause was not helped in the 69th minute when Richard Stearman was forced off with an injury. He was replaced by Patrick Kisnorbo – the Leeds loanee having played very little competitive football this season.

The home fans thought their side had got their noses in front in the 78th minute when Lita glanced home Jeremy Helan’s excellent cross, but the offside flag was up.

Ipswich almost snatched it at the end when Kirkland spilt a long throw-in and Nouble hooked the loose ball goalwards. Pugh was on the line to hack away though, with a draw a fair result.

– Reaction to follow.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-1-1): Kirkland; Buxton, Gardner (cpt), Llera, Pugh; Lee (Howard 25), Olofinjana, Coke, Helan; J Johnson (Maguire 28); Lita.

Unused subs: Bywater, Taylor, Mattock, McCabe, Prutton, Howard.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Loach; Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell; Edwards (cpt), N’Daw, Hyam, Tabb; Murphy, Nouble.

Unused subs: Lee-Barrett, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Wordsworth, Drury, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham