The Championship play-off semi-final between Ipswich Town and Norwich City remains on a knife edge, after the rivals played out a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s first leg at Portman Road.
The contest marked the first East Anglian derby to take place outside the regular season since the 1985 League Cup, and in a lively first half it was Norwich who drew first blood when Jonny Howson finished smartly inside the penalty area.
Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich were level heading into half-time, though, as Paul Anderson fired home from close range after John Ruddy failed to parry Freddie Sears’ shot to safety.
Ipswich started the brighter and Sears drew a fine point-blank save from Ruddy when he met Daryl Murphy’s cross from the right at the near post, before the goalkeeper kept out Luke Varney’s follow up.
Norwich came back into the match and Alex Tettey curled a 20-yard effort onto the outside of the right-hand upright, before Ipswich were dealt a blow when Varney was taken from the field on a stretcher with an Achilles injury.
The breakthrough for Norwich came four minutes before the break. Cameron Jerome out muscled Tommy Smith down the left channel before squaring to Howson, who side-footed neatly into the bottom right-hand corner.
Ipswich achieved parity before half-time, though. Ruddy failed to deal with Sears’ driven shot and, after a scramble, substitute Anderson rifled in the simple chance.
The chances dried up in the second half, although the lively Bradley Johnson saw a well-hit shot deflected wide by Luke Chambers’ sliding challenge, before the midfielder failed to direct a header from Nathan Redmond’s corner on target.
That proved as close as either side would come, leaving the tie nicely poised ahead of next Saturday’s return encounter at Carrow Road.
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