30.03.2024 00:18 h

Ipswich stay top of Championship after Leeds draw with Watford

Ipswich were left top of English football's second-tier Championship on Friday after Leeds missed the chance to regain first place as they drew 2-2 at Watford.

Conor Chaplin scored the only goal in the ninth minute as Ipswich won 1-0 away to Blackburn at Ewood Park following the international break, the midfielder starting and finishing a well-worked move.

"Fantastic result, you have to enjoy every win you get in the Championship," said Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna.

"The performance was mixed. I thought first half we started ever so well, big credit to the way we came out, especially after international duty, we imposed ourselves really well on the game."

Victory took Ipswich two points clear of Leeds, who could have recaptured top spot in the late kick-off.

Instead Leeds had to twice come from behind at Vicarage Road to secure a draw that left them one point behind Ipswich and one ahead of third-placed Leicester in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

Vakoun Bayo opened the scoring for Watford in the 31st minute before Leeds hit back six minutes later thanks to a superb finish from Crysencio Summerville.

Watford regained the lead before half-time with another fine goal from Emmanuel Dennis.

Leeds's pressure was rewarded five minutes from time when Mateo Joseph's goal ensured a share of the spoils.

"I will take this point all day long," said Leeds manager Daniel Farke, whose side featured a trio of Wales players who had suffered the heartache of failing to qualify for the European Championships following a penalty shoot-out loss to Poland. "I am really happy and proud of the boys."

The German added: "We had the worst possible international break. For us three players came back injured and three Welsh players had the disappointment of not being allowed to go to the Euros. We had not one first-team training session as a team."

Earlier, Leicester's hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League suffered a fresh setback with a 1-0 loss away to Bristol City.

City's Anis Mehmeti struck 17 minutes from time at Ashton Gate with a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

Leicester have led the league for much of the season, but they have won just one of their last six Championship games to fall behind Leeds.

Jamie Vardy came closest to scoring for the Foxes but the former England striker, one of the stars of Leicester's Premier League title triumph eight years ago, was twice denied by excellent saves from Max O'Leary.

"There would be cause for concern if the performances weren't there," said Leicester manager Enzo Maresca. "But we are creating so much and our recent defeats have all been down to not finishing our chances."

Only the top two clubs at the end of the season are guaranteed promotion to the lucrative Premier League. The other spot in the top division is decided by a series of play-off games involving the teams finishing third to sixth.

Fourth-placed Southampton missed the chance to close the gap on the Foxes after a 90th-minute equaliser from Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath cancelled out Adam Armstrong's early opener in a 1-1 draw.

Elsewhere, sixth-placed Norwich came from behind to beat lowly Plymouth 2-1.