Grant Ward fluke hands Ipswich draw against Birmingham
Grant Ward's fortuitous goal ensured Ipswich picked up a point in a tense 1-1 home draw with Birmingham.
After left-back Jonathan Grounds had given the visitors a 48th-minute lead, Ward equalised for Ipswich with an overhit cross in the 72nd minute, as these two desperately out-of-form teams shared the points.
With just four Sky Bet Championship wins between them in 2017, and with both nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone, this was a tight and tense 90 minutes at Portman Road.
Ipswich posed the bigger goal threat in the first half, and David McGoldrick could not get the desired connection when he met Freddie Sears' cushioned volley in the 16th minute.
Right-back Jordan Spence went on a mazy run in the 23rd minute, but his final shot on his weaker left foot was poorly executed.
McGoldrick got Ipswich fans off their seats when he robbed Krystian Bielik in the penalty area eight minutes later, but he could only steer his cross, while off-balance, into the grateful arms of Tomasz Kuszczak.
Birmingham's David Davis was inches away from connecting onto Lukas Jutkiewicz's low cross, before Sears should have opened the scoring for Ipswich in the 35th minute.
After Ryan Shotton blocked McGoldrick's fizzing shot, Sears had a great chance on the rebound with the whole goal to aim at, but found the legs of Kuszczak in the way.
Sears did find the net, less than 60 seconds later, when he calmly dispatched Ward's pull-back from the byline, but the midfielder had run the ball out of play and the goal was disallowed.
Ipswich saw penalty appeals waved away by referee Andrew Madley moments later, when Jonas Knudsen's flicked header struck the arm of Maikel Kieftenbeld, before Jutkiewicz headed Emilio Nsue's cross over.
Jutkiewicz had another chance with his head just before the half-time whistle, but Bartosz Bialkowski comfortably saved.
However, three minutes after the restart, Bialkowski was powerless to prevent Grounds, with a hint of offside, from smashing into the roof of the net after blocking from Jutkiewicz.
Jutkiewicz was thwarted again by Bialkowski just moments later as the striker latched onto Craig Gardner's clever disguised pass, before right-back Nsue blazed well over with his left foot in the 59th minute.
But Ipswich grabbed themselves a lucky lifeline when Ward's cross from the right flew over the despairing dive of Kuszczak.
Bialkowski made a stunning save to stop McGoldrick's header from entering his own net late on, while Ipswich substitute Kevin Bru curled narrowly off target with one of the last kicks of the game.
Source : PA