Ipswich 2-2 Middlesbrough: Late Patrick Bamford header lifts Boro to fifth
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/05/18 3:46pm
Middlesbrough will face Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs after substitute Patrick Bamford's header in the sixth minute of injury time gave the Teessiders a 2-2 draw at Ipswich.
Tony Pulis' side were facing a sixth-place finish and a semi-final against Fulham after falling 2-1 behind when Martyn Waghorn struck from the spot seven minutes from time at Portman Road.
But Bamford levelled deep into time added on, a goal which lifted Boro back above Derby into fifth and secured a clash with Steve Bruce's Aston Villa, with the first leg to be held at the Riverside next Saturday.
It was the second time Middlesbrough had come from behind, with Stewart Downing's 71st-minute strike cancelling out Freddie Sears' early goal.
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Middlesbrough had won each of their last three matches, while the Tractor Boys were looking to capitalise on thrashing Reading last weekend.
The hosts made a positive start as neat interplay between Cole Skuse and Waghorn led to the latter shooting into the side netting. Waghorn also struck the outside of the post from a corner soon afterwards.
Ipswich went ahead in the eighth minute when Sears broke free of a tackle by Boro defender Ben Gibson wide on the right and ran in on goal to fire a perfect shot past goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
The visitors' first meaningful strike at goal came in the 16th minute after persistent pressure culminated in Muhamed Besic firing over the bar, and they nearly equalised in a goalmouth scramble which ended with Callum Connolly clearing off the line.
The visitors began the second half as they ended the first, with much of the possession, but the Ipswich defence held firm.
Referee David Coote turned down an Ipswich appeal for handball in the penalty area by Ryan Shotton and then Randolph produced two wonderful saves from Waghorn and Skuse to deny the home side.
But Middlesbrough equalised in the 71st minute through Downing, who fired through a crowded penalty area following a corner by Adama Traore.
Substitute Shane McLoughlin made an immediate impact in the 83rd minute when he charged down a clearance by Daniel Ayala and was fouled in the area by Gibson. Waghorn stepped up to convert the penalty.
Ayala thought he had made it 2-2 when he volleyed home after Besic had struck the bar, only for the effort to be chalked off for offside.
The away side would not be denied, however, and Bamford struck right at the death when he headed home.
Ipswich caretaker manager Bryan Klug: "They could not have given us any more. I thought the effort was fantastic.
"At the end of the day it would have been nice to win but you can't deny that Middlesbrough played their part in a fantastic game and our goalie had to make some fantastic saves and there were blocks etc but we did at times play some good football and that was the pleasing thing."
Tony Pulis: "If you had given me a play-off position when I took over the football club I wouldn't have cared who we were playing so I can't be judgmental or care or worry about who it is.
"We have got Villa who most probably have the strongest squad in the Championship and it will be a real tough game. They will be big favourites I'm sure."