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Conor Chaplin winner keeps Ipswich automatic promotion bid on track

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Conor Chaplin hit the only goal for Ipswich (Martin Rickett/PA)
Conor Chaplin hit the only goal for Ipswich (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ipswich kept their automatic promotion bid on track after Conor Chaplin’s 13th goal of the season gave them a 1-0 win at Blackburn.

Buoyed by Leicester’s defeat in the early kick-off, Kieran McKenna’s men flew out of the traps and made their early dominance count through Chaplin’s well-worked goal, though Blackburn’s Aynsley Pears ought to have done better.

But this barely told the story of the game as the struggling hosts, still looking for their first win under John Eustace, were more than a match and will feel aggrieved that they had goals in either half contentiously ruled out.

The league’s top scorer Sammie Szmodics missed a glorious chance 11 minutes from time, but Ipswich dug in admirably to notch their eighth win in nine.

Ipswich should have had an early penalty when Callum Brittain tugged Nathan Broadhead back but referee Stuart Atwell waved play on.

They hit the front in the ninth minute when Chaplin sprayed the ball out wide for Leif Davis and ran into the box to meet the defender’s low cross before letting fly with a first-time shot that found the bottom corner, but Pears somehow let the ball squirm through him.

The Tractor Boys did not let up and Kieffer Moore put a near-post header over soon after, while Chaplin fashioned a chance with a silky first touch but his left-foot effort was saved.

Rovers thought they had equalised on the half hour when a flowing move ended with Tyrhys Dolan’s cut-back finding Joe Rankin-Costello who slotted home via a deflection but Szmodics was either adjudged to be obstructing the goalkeeper or deemed to be the one who deflected the ball.

Ipswich came out after the break with renewed purpose and Chaplin hammered a shot into the side netting within 20 seconds of the restart before Pears parried his curling effort a minute later.

Blackburn showed signs of life on the hour when Vaclav Hladky parried a cross into the path of Ben Chrisene but Chaplin got a vital touch before he could pull the trigger, and moments later, Szmodics whipped a first-time shot goalwards that Hladky tipped over the bar.

The home fans were incensed again in the 74th minute when Andrew Moran smashed in off the underside of the bar after Hladcky dropped a cross under pressure from Scott Wharton but the referee deemed it a foul from the Rovers defender.

Hladcky made a terrible error and outstanding save in the same move in the 79th minute as his pass six yards out was blocked by Szmodics but the Czech stopper made a miraculous recovery, diving full stretch to tip the shot wide and Ipswich held on.

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