Currie adds to Royle's agony

Leeds United 1 - Ipswich Town 1
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The Independent Football

Darren Currie may be haunted by his stoppage-time miss at Elland Road as Leeds restricted Ipswich to a point and increased the likelihood that the play-offs will stand between Joe Royle's side and promotion to the Premiership for the second year running.

Darren Currie may be haunted by his stoppage-time miss at Elland Road as Leeds restricted Ipswich to a point and increased the likelihood that the play-offs will stand between Joe Royle's side and promotion to the Premiership for the second year running.

The result handed automatic elevation to Sunderland. Ipswich have to contest second place with Wigan, who hold a two-point advantage.

Though they went ahead inside 11 minutes, Ipswich conceded an immediate equaliser and were never able to impose themselves. But when Darren Bent rolled the ball into his path with only seconds remaining, Currie, who came on as a substitute, had the easiest goalscoring chance of the game only to sidefoot his shot wide from barely eight yards out. "I would back Darren to have scored 99 times out of a hundred but I can't blame him," Royle said. "It was more disappointing that we gave away an equaliser straight after we had gone in front because we have done that too many times.

"Sunderland have gone up because everyone in their team defends. We have not got that, although that is a statement rather than a moan. We have had a fantastic season. But if we can make things difficult for ourselves, we will do. We now have to get six points and see what happens."

Ipswich's last two matches are against sides battling against relegation, starting with Crewe at Portman Road next Saturday followed by Brighton away. Wigan face two play-off candidates in Preston, away, and Reading at home - potentially the more difficult opponents, although Royle would rather be in Paul Jewell's position. "I'd sooner need four points than six with two games left," he said.

Royle had his side set up for goals, giving Spanish striker Pablo Counago his first start in six months alongside top scorer Bent and Shefki Kuqi, and the plan could not have had a much better start as Kuqi put them in front.

But within another minute, Leeds had levelled with midfielder Matthew Spring, marking his first start since Boxing Day, heading Frazer Richardson's cross beyond the reach of goalkeeper Lewis Price. That nullified Kuqi's 16th goal of the season, created by Kevin Horlock's through pass and finished with a shot tucked between the legs of defender Gary Kelly, a slight deflection wrong footing keeper Neil Sullivan.

Kuqi could have restored Ipswich's advantage but failed to connect when Jim Magilton's flighted pass invited him to volley past Sullivan.

Leeds matched Ipswich in midfield and kept their defensive discipline, too, although even manager Kevin Blackwell conceded that Currie ought to have scored. "In situations like that you just hope the fellow misses," he said.

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