Wolverhampton Wanderers are clearly not fully recuperated from their prolonged New Year nosedive. Six points out of six on their travels were followed by a nervous one from their first goalless draw in 44 league matches, as a resolute Ipswich Town kept them at bay largely in comfort.
Results elsewhere upheld the status quo at the top but Wolves, with eight games to go, may well need to show more craft than this to get the job done. Revitalised by victories at Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday the previous week, they still have some making up to do with the edgy Molineux faithful – and Saturday's visit of Charlton Athletic has a foul-it-up-at-your-peril look about it.
"It's a point gained, confirmed by the other results," the Wolves' manager Mick McCarthy said. "You have to work hard for everything and I knew it was going to be tough from minute one."
Ipswich had their collapse against Southampton to make amends for and were probably glad to be back on the road. Happy travellers with four wins in six league trips, they were so efficient that their only first-half scares came from free-kicks.
David Jones demanded a fine tip-over of Richard Wright from 25 yards, the goalkeeper then appearing relieved as Kyel Reid's shot from longer range curled inches wide. Michael Kightly, maker of both of Wolves' decisive goals in the previous two games, was introduced at the interval, McCarthy having deemed him unfit to start because of a tight hamstring.
And the winger became his side's likeliest way through as his deflected chip was hacked off the line by Pim Balkestein, then Sylvan Ebanks-Blake fired against the bar before Kightly drove the second rebound wide.
Ipswich had barely had a sniff of goal until Kevin Lisbie's shot on the turn was saved at close quarters by a hesitant Wayne Hennessey, who was then left exposed by a lamentable offside trap from David Wright's free-kick and grateful that Jody Craddock scampered back to clear Jon Stead's tentative shot.
Wolves lived dangerously in the dying minutes when Tommy Miller shot over and Luciano Civelli fired at Hennessey. The draw keeps Ipswich in the chase for the play-offs, though, and their manager Jim Magilton said: "Our attitude and application were there for all to see."
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Craddock, Berra, Hill (Keogh, 77); Reid (Kightly, h-t), Edwards, Jones, Ward; Ebanks-Blake, Iwelumo (Vokes, 55). Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Stearman.
Ipswich Town (4-4-1-1): R Wright, D Wright, Campo, Balkestein, Thatcher; Walters (Counago, 37), Miller, Quinn, Civelli; Norris; Lisbie (Stead, 70). Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Garvan, Bruce.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).