Monday verdict: No-one will want to face belligerent Blues in the play-offs

Tommy Smith celebrates after Wolves' defender Richard Stearman had headed an own goal under his pres

Tommy Smith celebrates after Wolves' defender Richard Stearman had headed an own goal under his pressure during the first half. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town have one foot in the door, all they need to do now is step through and shut it behind them.

Mick McCarthy’s men produced a gritty away day display to draw 1-1 at Wolves in a televised lunch-time match on Saturday, taking a huge step towards securing a Championship play-off place in the process.

With both Derby and Brentford also restricted to draws later in the afternoon, it meant the day ended as it had started for the Suffolk side – they still occupy sixth spot with a three point cushion.

The situation is thus; Four points from the remaining two matches – at home against Nottingham Forest on Saturday and away at Blackburn seven days later – and a place in the end of season shoot-out for promotion to the Premier League is guaranteed.

Already 75 points are on the board. To put that into context, that’s a total that would have been enough to secure a top-six finish in this division for 17 of the previous 20 seasons.

This will be the club’s best campaign in a decade, but now is not the time for reflection just yet.

The Premier League prize is bigger than ever and, with the financial landscape changing, Ipswich may well not get as good a shot as this for some time.

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Whoever falls short of automatic promotion out of Watford, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Norwich will be heading into tense knock-out football off the back of a major disappointment and weighed down by the favourites tag in the semi-finals.

Fifth-placed Derby haven’t beaten a current top nine side since their 1-0 win at Portman Road on January 17, Wolves have not won in three, while Brentford have just two wins in nine.

Not a single one of the aforementioned sides would be relishing the prospect of facing McCarthy’s belligerent Blues.

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