EFL

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca wary of chasing pack after Ipswich draw

By Sports Desk January 22, 2024

Enzo Maresca insists Leicester must be wary of the Championship’s chasing pack after Ipswich stopped the Foxes going 10 points clear at the top.

Jeremy Sarmiento’s late leveller moved the visitors back into second and put a dent in the Foxes’ title procession following a 1-1 draw.

Leif Davis’ unfortunate first-half own goal gave the hosts the lead but they were unable to build on it.

Tom Cannon was twice thwarted by Vaclav Hladky while Mads Hermansen’s smart save from Wes Burns denied Ipswich an earlier leveller.

“I’ve felt the breath of Ipswich and Southampton since we started and I’ve felt Leeds’ breath also, the Championship is very long,” said Leicester boss Maresca, who served a suspension in the stands.

“If we’d won tonight we were 10 points from Ipswich and Southampton but losing or drawing it’s still very long.

“Now we are (going) in the right direction because of the performance but there are still many games.

“It’s always a shame when you drop points at the end. It happened there (in Ipswich) and happened tonight. It’s football, even if you go 2-0 up, until the end there is always danger. Overall, with the way we performed, I’m very happy.

“It was frustrating being in the stand because you don’t have the direct contact with the players. I feel frustrated about the result, not about the way we performed.”

Cannon and Hamza Choudhury went close during a confident opening from the Foxes but it took an own goal to break the deadlock after 31 minutes.

Stephy Mavididi swapped passes with Ricardo Pereira on the left and his low cross was turned into his own net by Davis – his second own goal in four games.

Pereira shot wide and Cannon went close as Leicester went for a second but they needed Hermansen to maintain their lead soon after the break when he turned Burns’ volley over.

Mavididi and Cannon had shots saved but Ipswich gradually found their edge in the second half and began to put the Foxes under real pressure, without testing Hermansen.

That was until in the final minute of normal time when Massimo Luongo was given space on the edge of the area and his drive was parried by Hermansen.

It fell straight to the unmarked Sarmiento to fire in, despite the best efforts of Hermansen, meaning Ipswich have rescued 21 points from losing positions this season.

Boss Kieran McKenna said: “The second half was much more like ourselves and we can take a lot of confidence from it. On the balance of the second half we probably deserved to get something from the game.

“We are coming back at lot, not losing many games, which is a reflection of the culture and togetherness in the group.

“I really liked the second half, there was a real conviction in the dressing room at half-time.

“I thought in the first half we didn’t manage to find that belief in ourselves but there was a real intent to go out in the second half and show that. There’s so long to go we have to focus on ourselves.

“We’re competing with teams on a points tally we’ve got no right to. Our focus remains to perform as well as we can.”

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