Ipswich missed out on the chance to take over at the Sky Bet Championship summit but did move up to second after they were held to a goalless draw at home to Watford.

After promotion rivals Leicester and Leeds dropped points on Tuesday, victory for Kieran McKenna’s men would have been the perfect tonic to Saturday’s 1-0 loss at bitter foes Norwich.

However, Tom Cleverley’s Watford proved stubborn opponents and Town had to settle for a point, which does lift them above Leeds with four games left in the battle to secure automatic promotion.

Ipswich were eager to bounce back from their East Anglian derby defeat and McKenna made four changes but watched his team almost fall behind after eight minutes.

Watford youngster Yaser Asprilla tried his luck from by the halfway line although, much to the relief of goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky, it sailed a few inches over.

Town dominated possession and created their first chance when the recalled Harry Clarke burst forward and passed into Kieffer Moore, who teed up Nathan Broadhead but his low effort was saved by Daniel Bachmann.

Moore went close himself after 28 minutes when Kayden Jackson raced away down the right but his cross was swept wide by the Bournemouth loanee.

Ipswich impressively fashioned another chance eight minutes later when Hutchinson passed out wide to Broadhead, whose left-footed strike hit the inside of the post and rolled across the goal line to safety.

The Hornets were on the ropes and the next opportunity for the hosts was inadvertently blocked by Broadhead, who got in the way of a Jack Taylor shot.

After Bachmann had watched Ipswich lay siege to his goal, the Austrian stopper sprung into action three minutes before half-time with a superb save to deny a flying header by Moore from Clarke’s cross.

It ensured it was goalless at the break but Watford provided a reminder of their threat early in the second period when Asprilla sent in a dipping effort that Hladky could only parry away.

McKenna had seen enough and made a triple substitution with 26 minutes left.

The tension around Portman Road was palpable and gaps started to open up but Hladky thwarted Jamal Lewis’ low effort before Ipswich captain Sam Morsy slid in to deny Ismael Kone’s follow-up.

Town substitute Ali Al-Hamadi had a late shot deflected wide before Watford almost stole the points but Hladky batted away Edo Kayembe’s speculative effort deep into stoppage-time.

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael admitted feeling some relief after his side ended their losing streak with a 1-0 win at Rotherham.

Neither side entered the contest with much confidence following three straight defeats apiece but it was Watford who snatched the points thanks to Yaser Asprilla’s second-half strike.

Ismael said: “We were ready for the battle. We spoke about it before the game.

“It was all about the result. We had to be solid and to do the basics right.

“Finally it was another clean sheet. It was very difficult but we managed well.

“Our focus was all about the result. We have had to stay positive. There is no excuse any more – we had to act on the pitch.

“Yaser is a player who has learned a lot this season and he is ready now to have an impact on games. I am very pleased for him.

“We were stronger in the line-up because we expected (a physical) game. We had to protect our goal and we defended well. We knew the ball would be coming in the air.

“It’s a big relief to get three points. The next challenge is to win the next home game.”

Both sides created decent opportunities in the first period. The nearest Watford came was through Asprilla but his deflected effort was just over the bar.

Rotherham’s Peter Kioso looked the dangerman early on and tested Ben Hamer with a header.

Watford went ahead just before the hour-mark, with Asprilla showing real quality to smash beyond Viktor Johansson after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the area.

Rotherham then did all the pushing. Seb Revan fired just off target and Sean Morrison and Hakeem Odoffin came close with headers.

Watford were defending desperately come the end and it took timely blocks from Jake Livermore and Wesley Hoedt to deny Rotherham.

Millers’ head coach Leam Richardson still only has one win in the hotseat at the New York Stadium and his side are now 14 points from safety.

However, he is managing to remain positive.

He said: “You’re judged on the final result; I think we are up on every stat within the game apart from the result which counts.

“I am disappointed for the players. They gave enough effort and endeavour to get a positive result out of the game. That is where we are.

“I have said it before and I will probably be repeating myself a lot now until the end of the season, I knew the challenge coming in.

“There is no reason why we can’t give a good account of ourselves whether that be on a Saturday or Tuesday or Monday, Thursday, Friday. We have still got points to play for and an end goal.

“It is important we remain positive. It’s easy to ask negative questions.

“The lads know they have got to give a good account of themselves at Ipswich on Tuesday.

“The players were on the floor at the end but you have got to pick them up. There is nothing to gain by being negative.

“We are not kidding ourselves because we know it’s a tough division.

“I have been in worse situations than this and come through it.”

Watford gave their season the much-needed boost it required with a 1-0 win at struggling Rotherham.

Both teams went into the fixture out of form and on the back of three straight defeats but Yaser Asprilla’s second-half winner helps Valerien Ismael’s team to look up again.

Watford won the reverse fixture 5-0 but were happy to walk away from this one with a much narrower winning margin and were clinging on by the end.

Neat interplay between Hakeem Odoffin and Peter Kioso led to Rotherham’s first chance with Odoffin just firing off target from Kioso’s pull-back.

Andy Rinomhota also shot off target on the volley after Sean Morrison’s long throw dropped nicely for him.

Watford’s first effort came from lone striker Mileta Rajovic but his header, from Asprilla’s cross, dropped wide of goal.

Asprilla then came close himself with his effort from the edge of the box deflected onto the roof of the goal.

Kioso tested Ben Hamer for the first time in the match as he got on the end of Ollie Rathbone’s free-kick.

The home side started the second half on top and strongly appealed for a penalty when Rinomhota went down in the box.

Giorgi Chakvetadze was brought on by Ismael and he almost had a swift impact as he slipped Rajovic through but quick-thinking from Viktor Johansson stopped the attack.

Watford took the lead in the 58th minute when a corner eventually found its way to Asprilla on the edge of the box and he lashed an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner.

Rotherham boss Leam Richardson made a treble change in the hope of getting back into the game but it was starter Seb Revan who twice tried his luck in as many minutes.

The first effort was slashed at but the second would have temporarily worried Hamer before it trickled just wide of the post.

One of the new men, Jordan Hugill, could not get enough of a contact on a backpost header which again drifted wide.

An intervention from Jake Livermore denied Rotherham a leveller as he blocked a header from Tom Eaves after a Sam Clucas free-kick. From the resulting corner Morrison headed just off target.

Tom Ince had a good chance to put the game to bed after being slipped through by Livermore but his effort was wildly off target.

Watford skipper Wesley Hoedt was then in the perfect position to deny Rinomhota’s driven effort from going in.

Rotherham continued to push into added time and a looping header from Odoffin landed on the roof of the net.

Norwich recovered from losing a two-goal lead to beat Watford 4-2 at Carrow Road and maintain their Championship play-off push.

The Canaries appeared to be in command  after scoring twice in eight first half minutes through Ashley Barnes and Josh Sargent, only for Hornets to hit back as Mileta Rajovic netted just before the break and Yaser Asprilla scored a long-range stunner to equalise midway through the second period.

But the home side kept their nerve and two quick goals from Gabriel Sara and Christian Fassnacht sealed a hard fought win that made it nine home games without defeat, while dealing another blow to Watford’s rapidly receding hopes of finishing in the top six.

Norwich made a bright start and deservedly took the lead after 20 minutes, with a little help from goal-line technology.

When Barnes got his head on Onel Hernandez’s cross to the back post it appeared as though Ben Hamer had made a spectacular one-handed save to keep it out.

But it was all to no avail, with referee Stuart Atwell signalling a goal after being informed that the ball had crossed the line before the keeper’s last-gasp intervention.

Hamer made another save which counted for nothing eight minutes later as the Canaries doubled their advantage.

This time he parried Sargent’s penalty, awarded for a foul on Kenny McLean by Wesley Hoedt, only for the ball to rebound kindly for the American to nod home his seventh goal of an injury-hit campaign.

Norwich looked in complete control at that stage but Watford got themselves back in it through Rajovic after 42 minutes.

Ismael Kone picked out Ken Sema’s run down the inside left channel and what appeared to be an attempt at a shot turned into a perfect cross for Rajovic to poke home from inside the six-yard box.

The Hornets might have got back on level terms a few minutes later after Barnes was caught in possession in a dangerous area but Matheus Martins delayed too long and his shot was blocked.

Watford wasted another good opportunity seven minutes into the second period when Sema dragged his shot wide from a good position after being set up by Martins’ cutback.

Despite being in front Norwich were beginning to look more than a little nervous, with the crowd getting edgy too, and the mood slumped still further as the visitors scored a quite brilliant equaliser after 71 minutes.

The home defence were guilty of failing to close down substitute Asprilla as he made ground towards their goal down the left and the Colombia international took full advantage, beating Angus Gunn from all of 30 yards, with his searing effort going in off the woodwork.

It was the second time this season that Watford had come from 2-0 down to level against Norwich – but this time it was the Canaries who scored the fifth goal of the game.

With 77 minutes on the clock Barnes did well to control the ball and switch it to the overlapping Sara, and the Brazilian burst into the box before beating Hamer with a low shot into the far corner.

Five minutes later Norwich gave themselves some breathing space by making it 4-2, with Jack Stacey’s cross being turned in from close range by substitute Fassnacht via a big deflection off Ryan Porteous.

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael was pleased at the second-half reaction from his side, as they spared their FA Cup blushes with a 2-1 win over Chesterfield.

A goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time from Tom Dele-Bashiru broke the hearts of the National League leaders, who would have felt they deserved at least a replay.

Watford won their first FA Cup third-round tie at home since 2018, and progressed to the fourth round for the first time since reaching the final in 2019.

But Ismael was content with avoiding having to go to the SMH Group Stadium for a replay.

He said “The main thing in the cup is always to come through, because nobody will talk about the actual game.

“We made the game complicated for ourselves, and credit to Chesterfield they played well with a nothing-to-lose mentality.

“In the first half I didn’t get the feeling we controlled anything, at half time I told them we had to come back in our mentality – to raise our standards.

“That is non-negotiable, to play to your standards. The second half was much better and it showed a good mentality to score in the last minute.

“We’ve overcome the challenge. I prefer to score in the last minute rather than have a rematch.”

Backed by close to 4000 supporters, Chesterfield almost conceded after five minutes when Yaser Asprilla intercepted a back pass from Branden Horton, but his effort was blocked by Ryheem Sheckleford.

Goalkeeper Ryan Boot was needed on 24 minutes when Ismael Kone found space to bear down on goal but saw his shot denied the shotstopper.

The National League side then stunned their hosts three minutes later. A cross from the byline by Sheckleford found the head of Joe Quigley, who directed a simple header into the net.

It could have been even better for the visitors less than forty seconds after the restart, when keeper Daniel Bachmann had to save from Ollie Banks, following a move involving Sheckleford.

After a triple substitution was made to change the fortunes of Watford, it was down to one of the replacements in Mileta Rajovic to finally unlock the Chesterfield back line.

His header from a cross by Yaser Asprilla on 76 minutes sent an audible sigh of relief around Vicarage Road.

Although Watford were by far the more energetic of the two sides, Chesterfield could have won with seven minutes remaining, when sub Ryan Colclough headed over from less than six yards out.

The game was settled deep into injury time when Dele-Bashiru struck low past Boot, to earn a victory that was possibly ill-deserved.

Chesterfield assistant manager Danny Webb admitted the late defeat was hurtful, but his focus quickly returned to his side getting back into the EFL for the first time since 2018

He said “It’s a kick in the teeth, but when we look at the other scores in the National League today, which is what our bread and butter is, getting out that division, they went for us.

“We’re six points clear at the top, we’ve had a cracking day out and we’ve taken a Championship side toe to toe. Their bit of quality came through at the end.

“The supporters will be a bit down and a bit gutted.

“When you come to these places, the notch goes up – there’s a bit more quality, they’re a bit fitter and quicker.

“I won’t say we outplayed Watford, but we gave them a good game.”

Kieran McKenna hailed his Ipswich players for coming back from behind to win 2-1 at Watford and move to the top of the Championship.

Yaser Asprilla put the Hornets ahead early on but George Hirst’s equaliser set up an entertaining contest that was settled late on by Town captain Sam Morsy, who capitalised on an error by Wesley Hoedt.

McKenna, whose side are now 10 points clear of third-placed Leeds, said: “It was a performance that was all about the character in the group.

“Even at 1-1, even with tired legs, they stayed brave. The players dug in and gave every ounce of effort that they had in every minute of the game. If you do that then you deserve to come out on the right side of a difficult game.”

McKenna had extra praise for Morsy, who is a rare scorer.

“Sam is normally our deepest midfielder and it is not in his job description to go pressing centre-halves,” he said.

“He is saying that he scuffed it but it looked like a really good finish. He is being a bit modest. It was a great bit of determination.”

Ipswich host Norwich on Saturday in the first East Anglia derby since 2019 having lost just twice in the league all season.

McKenna said: “It’s a game to embrace. This is a massive derby for our supporters. We will prepare it as we do any other game and respect the opponent.”

Ipswich gifted Watford a 12th-minute lead when goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky passed straight to Asprilla. He set up Mileta Rajovic and Hladky parried the striker’s shot directly back to Asprilla, who smashed the ball high into the net.

The visitors levelled in the 24th minute after Ben Hamer parried Omari Hutchinson’s deflected shot to Hirst for a simple finish.

Ipswich took all three points thanks to Hoedt’s 80th-minute clanger. The Dutch defender lost possession to Morsy and the Egypt midfielder strode forward to slot past Hamer.

Watford manager Valerien Ismael had words of encouragement for his captain.

He said: “Mistakes are a part of the game. There is no vaccine against mistakes. We have to make sure we concentrate and stay in the game.

“We are all together, we support him and in three days he can show his quality.

“We are really disappointed to lose a game like that but we showed again that we are ready to compete and show our level.

“In the first half the main issue was we needed more control. We got that in the second half. At the other end the mistake we made was difficult, it shocked us, but it is a learning process now.

“We know that we can score at any time so we need to be more calm and defend better.

“Now it is about the fine details – we need to become ruthless in front of goal. It is the balance we need to find now. The players have the desire to close the gap but we have to have more composure in certain situations.”

Ipswich came from behind to win 2-1 at Watford and claim the Championship summit from Leicester.

Yaser Asprilla’s early Hornets goal lengthened the odds on Kieran McKenna’s visitors getting the victory they required to overtake the Foxes, who host Millwall on Wednesday.

But George Hirst’s equaliser set up an entertaining contest that was settled in the 80th minute by Town captain Sam Morsy.

Mileta Rajovic headed the first chance of the evening over the Ipswich crossbar in the fourth minute. The visitors replied in the 11th with a header from Marcus Harness that was straight at Hornets goalkeeper Ben Hamer.

Ipswich then gifted Watford the lead a minute later. Axel Tuanzebe played the ball back to goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky – who passed straight to Asprilla instead of a team-mate.

Asprilla set up Rajovic in front of goal and Hladky partially redeemed himself by parrying the striker’s shot, which lacked venom. The rebound went directly to Asprilla, however, and this time the Colombia striker smashed the ball high into the net.

Conor Chaplin volleyed a shot that Hamer was behind in the 18th minute as Ipswich attempted to get a grip on the game – and the visitors levelled through Hirst in the 24th minute.

Omari Hutchinson, having been supplied by Harness, cut in from the right to unleash a low drive that took a deflection off Jamal Lewis. Hamer, having to readjust hastily, could only palm the ball out to the striker who made no mistake from close range.

Chelsea loanee Hutchinson went close soon after with a shot that curled beyond the far post. A snapshot from Harness followed, but Hamer dived to save.

Hirst then headed home a Leif Davis free-kick but referee Darren England had already blown for an infringement. The Ipswich striker was booked in added time for sending Ryan Porteous to the turf by using a forearm.

The attacking football continued at both ends after the break but both defences had tightened up, though Hirst thumped Hamer’s near post from close range on the hour mark.

Lewis burst forward for a shot that was deflected wide for a corner that flashed across the Ipswich box. Rajovic only needed a touch to divert the ball over the line, it seemed, and was replaced straight after.

Hamer was almost robbed outside his box by substitute Freddie Ladapo, who snuck up behind him. Edo Kayembe fired over at the other end.

It looked likely that whoever managed to score again would win the contest – and it turned out to be Ipswich thanks to Wesley Hoedt’s error in the 80th minute.

The Dutch defender was guilty of losing possession to Morsy as he tried to bring the ball out from the back, and the Egypt midfielder strode forward to slot past Hamer.

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