Davis ensures Ipswich keep moving towards rarefied air

Ipswich Town 2 - Leicester City 1
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The Independent Online

Joe Royle will have to steer Ipswich towards a place in next season's Premiership for the next month without his leading striker. Shefki Kuqi scored his 15th goal of the season before he was carried off on a stretcher just before half-time and will require surgery on a badly gashed thigh.

Joe Royle will have to steer Ipswich towards a place in next season's Premiership for the next month without his leading striker. Shefki Kuqi scored his 15th goal of the season before he was carried off on a stretcher just before half-time and will require surgery on a badly gashed thigh.

While promotion looks all the more likely for Ipswich, as they remain five points ahead of Wigan and Sunderland, also winners yesterday, at the top of the Championship table, Leicester's faint play-off hopes are all but over as their seven-game unbeaten run ended.

The scoreline flattered Ipswich and owed much to the fine form of their goalkeeper, Kelvin Davis. He had to be at his best and was only beaten by a stunning 82nd-minute free-kick from Jordan Stewart.

Royle indicated he might sign a striker on loan to cover Kuqi and also admitted: "We can play a lot better than that and I am delighted to get through a scrappy game against such a good side."

Ipswich started like a Premiership club in the making with Darren Currie's volley producing a fine full-length save from Ian Walker after only a minute. They scored from the ensuing corner, the unmarked Kuqi heading in Jim Magilton's cross.

Leicester did not buckle, though. They had two chances to equalise in the space of 30 seconds, with Davis twice denying David Connolly.

Driving rain and swirling Suffolk winds then dominated before Ipswich scored a second goal similar to their first, in the 24th minute. Walker again conceded a corner, saving from Tommy Miller, but this time Currie swung the ball in and it finished with an own goal by a stunned Mark de Vries. The Dutchman, on his full debut, was deceived by Jason de Vos's attempt to head in front of him and let the ball bounce off his thigh from a yard out.

It sounds one-sided, but Davis made another stunning stop from Connolly, Jamie Scowcroft headed wide from a great position and Dion Dublin had a header saved as Leicester recovered to create enough chances to go into half-time on at least level terms.

"We possibly deserved a draw," the Leicester manager, Craig Levein, said. "I'm disappointed with the result but not the performance and the way we finished the stronger side away from home against the league leaders."

As the clock ticked towards a home win, David Unsworth fouled Keith Gillespie five yards outside the Ipswich area with eight minutes to go. The left-back Stewart stepped forward to take the free-kick and this time Davis was helpless as the ball dipped in off crossbar. A tense finish followed, but Davis was never exposed again and the Ipswich fans celebrated with a mixture of joy and relief as they sang "We are top of the League".

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