Town level at the top
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: 03/10/04 2:40pm
Ipswich Town have pulled level with leaders Wigan Athletic after a deserved, but fortunate, 2-1 victory at Coventry City.
A Matthew Mills own goal in the dying stages at Highfield Road proved decisive after Dean Bowditch gave Town the lead before substitute Patrick Suffo had brought Coventry level.
A scoreless opening half saw both sides create plenty of chances to break the deadlock, with Ipswich striker Darren Bent putting the ball in Coventry's net, but he was adjudged to be in an offside position at the time.
The Sky Blues soon replied with pressure of their own, with former Aston Villa defender Steve Staunton forcing a difficult clearance from the visitors' back-line with a good cross from the left.
Stephen Hughes then went close for Peter Reid's side with a left-footed strike across the face of Ipswich's goal after a long run into the box.
Coventry then received the best opportunity to take the lead after skipper Tim Sherwood was cut down in the Ipswich box by Drissa Diallo for a penalty as he tried to latch on to a return ball.
Stern John stepped up to take the spot kick with his right foot, but Ipswich goalkeeper Lewis Price guessed right and dived low to his left to make a fine save and keep the match at 0-0.
Moments later, Joe Royle's side replied with a glorious chance of their own, as the impressive Bowditch nailed Coventry's bar with a half volley strike after keeper Luke Steele's block from Bent's quick strike came back to the Ipswich player.
The Sky Blues soon replied with Staunton forcing a save from Price with a point blank strike from the left after latching onto Graham Barrett's fine pass.
However, it was the visitors who finished the stronger side by the break, with Bowditch setting up Bent to strike straight Steele after sublimely taking a long ball forward under control on the right before finding the Ipswich striker.
The Town youngster then created another decent chance from the left-hand side, with a deflected cross that nearly found the head of Shefki Kuqi at the far post before the danger was cleared for a corner.
The second half saw Ipswich dominate proceedings, though Coventry had an early chance, but Michael Doyle struck a free kick over the Ipswich bar.
Town started to assert themselves with a number of quality chances, with Richard Naylor hitting the side-netting with a far post shot after Steele blocked away a free kick that was whipped in from the right.
Kuqi then had a great chance to score after Kevin Horlock sent him clear on goal, but Steele come off his line to make a fine block.
Jim Magilton with a chip and Kuqi had further chances moments later before Bowditch forced a fine save from Steele with a solid drive on the edge of the box.
Ipswich should have then taken the lead, but Bent squandered his chance with the net gaping after Horlock set him up in the Coventry box.
The visitors would not be denied, however, as Bowditch gave Ipswich the lead with a far post finish to Bent's fine low cross from the right.
Their deserved lead, however, lasted just seven minutes as Coventry equalised against the run of play when Bjarni Gudjonsson played in Suffo, who lobbed Price to make it 1-1.
The former Sheffield United striker then went close to winning the match, but his near post header from Staunton's cross on the left went just wide.
It was Ipswich that took the points with three minutes remaining and in fortunate circumstances, as a long ball forward saw Coventry defender Mills mis-kick his back-pass to the onrushing Steele and find the open net to give Town all three points.
Sky Bet Championship
|20||Brighton and Hove Albion||12||11|