As the final whistle blew at Portman Road the victorious Ipswich Town players turned to whoever they could to seek confirmation that their efforts would get the reward they desired. Stewards, fans and staff were queried, but all came back with the same negative reply. Results elsewhere meant Alan Lee's winning goal, with just his second touch after coming on as substitute, was not enough to give Ipswich the play-off position they craved.
Hull's defeat, coupled with Stoke City's draw with Leicester, ended whatever slim possibility they had of an automatic promotion slot. Instead they must go through what their manager Phil Brown described as "the lottery" of the play-offs if the Yorkshire side are to reach the top division for the first time. They meet Watford in the semi-final, with the first leg at Vicarage Road next weekend.
"We'll enter the tie in a positive frame of mind," Brown said. "They [Watford] aren't in the best of form so we'll probably be favourites."
The Ipswich manager, Jim Magilton, said: "It's a bitter taste of disappointment for us because it's a case of 'what ifs?'". They won this contest comprehensively, but for much of the game could not find the goal they deserved. Shefki Kuqi headed into an empty net after Pablo Counago had hit the post but the referee's assistant somehow spotted an offside.
Tommy Miller hit the post and Counago, Alan Quinn and captain Jason De Vos, playing in what turned out to be his last game for the club, all could have scored before Lee finally scored.
The Irish international won the ball in the air. Jon Walters headed back across the face of goal and Lee rose to power a header into the corner of the net.
Goals: Lee (69) 1-0.
Ipswich (4-4-2): Bywater; Simpson, Bruce, De Vos, Wright; Walters, Miller, Garvan, Quinn (Lee, 69); Kuqi (Haynes, 53), Counago (Sumulikoski, 80). Substitutes not used: Colgan (gk), Castro.
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Dawson; Marney, Windass, Ashbee, Hughes (Fagan, 61); Campbell, Folan (Barmby, 65). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Doyle, Walton.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands). Booked: Ipswich Coungao, Haynes; Hull Dawson, Brown, Ricketts, Marney.
Man of the match: Garvan.
Attendance: 28,233.Reuse content