Championship - Round-up: More misery for Ipswich
Ipswich slumped to a 3-1 home defeat to Swansea, their eighth loss in 10 Championship games and the worst run since they were relegated from the Premier League in 1995.
The result puts Brendan Rogers's side one point behind second-placed Cardiff, who drew 1-1 with Preston, while Ipswich stay in the bottom half, only four points above the drop zone after starting the season like title contenders.
Andros Townsend put the hosts ahead in a game they largely dominated, but saves from Dorus De Vries kept it tight until poor goalkeeping from Brian Murphy and a defensive horror-show by Tommy Smith allowed Craig Beattie and Joe Allen to make it 2-1.
Roy Keane’s side were furious with five minutes left when referee Andy D’Urso failed to award a clear penalty after Mark Gower felled Carlos Edwards in the box: he waved play on, Swansea countered and Beattie sealed victory with a spectacular effort.
Swansea did have the better of the opening exchanges, hemming Ipswich into their own half but failing to truly test Murphy in the home side’s goal.
Beattie should have done better with a free header at the far post, nodding it weakly into Murphy’s arms, but otherwise - and for all their early possession - the promotion-chasing Welsh side were unable to create any clear-cut openings as forwards Beattie and Scott Sinclair struggled to get on the ball.
Despite their slow start - and just over 40 per cent possession - Ipswich regained their composure and started to slice the visitors apart on the break.
A loose back-pass from Angel Rangel should have been punished by Tamas Priskin but his finish was parried by the excellent De Vries, while Jason Scotland’s turn and burst of pace allowed him a shot on target that was deflected just wide.
That opportunity came just after the half-hour mark and, from that point until half-time, Ipswich laid siege on the Swansea goal.
Priskin sent a vicious drive just wide of the far post after cutting inside from wide to beat three men, while Edwards was foiled by a smart low stop from De Vries after a slick passing move involving the impressive Grant Leadbitter and livewire striker Scotland.
The best came in first-half injury time as De Vries helped cement his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the division with a remarkable one-handed stop low to the bottom right, after defender Troy Brown met an Edwards corner with a bullet header.
The second half started with Ipswich looking to capitalise on their positive form and it soon paid off when, five minutes in, the Tractor Boys’ wingers combined with Townsend nodding Edwards’s excellent cross in at the far post.
It was nearly 2-0 soon afterwards as Edwards popped up on the left flank but Priskin, rising well above the defence, could only head straight at De Vries.
Rangel - who was not having his best day at the office and was caught out for the goal - was then booked for a desperate pull on Townsend, who was running the Spanish full-back ragged.
But, against the run of play, Swansea levelled from a set-piece as Ipswich keeper Murphy was caught cold by Gower’s wide free-kick Beattie getting their before the Irishman’s failed punch to flick the ball into the bottom right.
Ipswich sensed an injustice and should have regained the lead when Edwards burst down the left and found substitute Rory Fallon who, seconds after coming on, stretched to poke his finish wide.
Their enthusiasm to get a second goal left holes at the back, although there was no excuse for Swansea’s second when Ipswich failed to clear their lines on three occasions, Smith the main culprit as he inexplicably tried to play his way out of trouble from eight yards to let Allen poke home from close range.
That seemed to break Ipswich, who offered little afterwards although did have a half chance when Alan Tate’s misjudged back header almost put Fallon in: De Vries was alert and first to the loose ball.
There are few Championship sides better at keeping possession than Swansea, who returned to the style of the opening 10 minutes as Ipswich struggled to get a touch.
Ipswich should have been given a chance to earn a deserved point though, but D’Urso somehow failed to see Gower’s block on Edwards after a neat one-two with fellow Trinidad and Tobago international Scotland put him through.
Gower came across Edwards, hands in the air as he knocked him to turf but inexplicably and from an excellent position D’Urso waved play on.
Swansea broke and within seconds Beattie curled a wondrous strike in off the angle of post and crossbar to put the result beyond doubt and the Welsh side right on top of rivals Cardiff.
Cardiff continued to struggle in their bid to catch Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers as they only just avoided an embarrassing home defeat to bottom side Preston in a 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Michael Tonge's deflected free-kick had the beating of David Marshall in the Bluebirds goal in the 26th minute and North End were suddenly in contention for a first win in six games.
Cardiff threw everything at Preston in the second period but looked set for a third consecutive home loss until Andy Keogh's header found the net in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The result means Cardiff still trail QPR by four points, and the Londoners have a game in hand after their fixture at Hull was postponed.
A Shaun Barker own goal and Chris Martin's strike helped Norwich move above Derby into fourth place with a 2-1 win at Pride Park. Kris Commons' 11th goal of the campaign proved to be a mere consolation for the Rams.
Coventry moved up to fifth as Marlon King's 78th-minute penalty made the difference against struggling Middlesbrough at the Ricoh Arena, after Leroy Lita missed a first-half spot-kick for the visitors.
Leeds climbed two places to sixth as Luciano Becchio starred in a late comeback victory over Crystal Palace at Elland Road.
Neil Danns put the Eagles in front just before half-time from a Nathaniel Clyne cross but Becchio turned the game around with goals in the 81st and 83rd minutes to take his league tally for the season into double figures.
Watford secured only their second win in 10 league games as they won 3-2 at home to Leicester and moved up to 10th.
John Eustace (15) and Will Buckley (22) put the Hornets in charge but a second-half brace from Paul Gallagher drew the visitors level.
However, Malky Mackay's men secured all three points as Danny Graham grabbed his eighth Championship goal of the season.
James Henry and Steve Morison ended Millwall's hoodoo against Scunthorpe and moved them into the top half of the Championship with a 3-0 win.
The Iron had got the better of the Lions in their previous five meetings, including an epic 2009 League One play-off final.
But the South Londoners got their own back in style thanks to Henry's first-half cracker and Morison's late double to make it an unhappy 40th birthday for Scunny manager Ian Baraclough.
Postponed Championship games on December 4:
Doncaster v Barnsley
Sheffield United v Reading
Portsmouth v Burnley
Nottingham Forest v Bristol City
Hull City v QPR