Ipswich Town 1-1 Sheffield United: Blues cheered off as Blades draw narrows gap to safety

PUBLISHED: 16:52 22 December 2018 | UPDATED: 21:45 22 December 2018

Town celebrate after Ellis Harrison's goal.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Town celebrate after Ellis Harrison's goal. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town dug in to secure a deserved point as this afternoon’s clash with Sheffield United ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Blues, looking to build on last weekend’s pressure-relieving victory over Wigan, had taken the lead following Ellis Harrison’s deflected strike before the break, with Billy Sharp cancelling their advantage out soon after the interval.

Paul Lambert’s men had to see out several spells of Blades pressure, with Sharp a nuisance throughout as he stretched the home back line, but they ultimately stood firm to secure another point in their battle for survival.

They remained a threat throughout, forcing a number of late corners, but were ultimately unable to threaten Dean Henderson’s goal further.

The point, coupled with defeats for Millwall and Reading, narrows the gap to safety to four heading into the Boxing Day visit to QPR.

Gwion Edwards just fails to slot a ball through for Freddie Sears, early in the game.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMGwion Edwards just fails to slot a ball through for Freddie Sears, early in the game. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Lambert made three changes to his side, with Andre Dozzell, Ellis Harrison and Gwion Edwards all coming in for starts, but the Blues found themselves on the backfoot early.

Sheffield United were pressing high, getting their wide central defenders in advanced positions to help out in attack and putting the Blues under pressure.

The Blades soon had the ball in the net, with Billy Sharp’s effort ruled out for offside as he turned home John Fleck’s quick free-kick, before the striker turned over a later effort after beating Dean Gerken to the ball.

Billy Sharp with an early effort over the bar.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMBilly Sharp with an early effort over the bar. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Sharp fired over again before the Blues’ turn to have a goal ruled out, as Chambers turned the ball home before turning to find referee Andy Woolmer’s whistle had been blown as the man in black spotted an infringement.

The hosts weren’t to be denied for long, though.

As Blades legs tired following their early efforts, Ipswich began to press higher, and when they won the ball high up the pitch, Sears fed Harrison who picked his spot and found the net with the aid of a slight deflection.

Portman Road erupted as the Ipswich players flocked to celebrate the Welshman’s first Town goal as his strike secured a slender advantage at the break.

Ellis Harrison hugs skipper Luke Chambers  after putting Town 1-0 ahead.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMEllis Harrison hugs skipper Luke Chambers after putting Town 1-0 ahead. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

The lead was gone within two minutes of the restart, as Oliver Norwood’s sumptuous cross was headed home by Sharp.

Ipswich were living a little dangerously in the minutes after the United goal, with Sharp and then Enda Stevens missing the target from good positions, before Egan headed wide as the Sheffield pressure continued.

Freddie Sears curled a free-kick wide as Ipswich tried to release the pressure, with the Blues maintaining a threat until the end, when they were cheered off with a point.

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