Richard Chaplow hits late winner as Ipswich Town beat Watford 1-0
Last Updated: 23/03/15 11:21am
A dramatic Richard Chaplow winner deep into injury time lifted Ipswich back into the Championship play-off places as they beat former leaders Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road.
It was a tight contest throughout with clear-cut chances at a premium, but the Hornets appeared to have come the closest to winning it when Odion Ighalo stabbed a Troy Deeney cross narrowly over the bar.
A goalless draw looked increasingly inevitable until deep into time added on when Freddie Sears won possession from Ben Watson on the counter-attack and set up fellow substitute Richard Chaplow to score a potentially priceless winner for the Tractor Boys.
Neither side could create much in the opening stages, although Ipswich's Luke Varney did have a goal ruled out for offside in the 10th minute.
Adlene Guedioura sent a well-struck 25-yard effort narrowly over and Ighalo had an effort blocked as the Hornets began to up their attacking game.
But the Hornets suffered a major setback as the contest reached the half-hour mark when Joel Ekstrand lost out in a challenge to Tyrone Mings and was clearly in considerable pain as he lay on the ground.
Following a lengthy period of treatment, the Swedish centre-half was stretchered off and replaced by Gabriele Angella.
Despite that setback, the Hornets continued to look the more likely side to make the breakthrough and they spurned a good chance to do just that in the 41st minute when Miguel Layun released Guedioura on the counter-attack.
With Deeney supporting and waiting for the ball to be knocked square, the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder chose to go it alone and his shot was charged down by Christophe Berra.
Neither goalkeeper was overly stretched in the first half but prior to Guedioura's opportunity, Heurelho Gomes did have to dive to his left to push behind a strike from Varney.
The cagey nature of the contest continued after the restart and chances continued to prove hard to come by for both sides until the 67th minute when Guedioura sliced an opportunity wide after a ball into the penalty area had been helped on by Deeney.
Both sides made change in an effort to force the breakthrough and one of those introduced, Sears, immediately offered a threat by hitting a low 25-yard drive which Gomes had to get down to smartly to push behind. From the resultant corner, Luke Chambers headed a reasonable opening over the top.
Watford head coach Slavisa Jokanovic brought on Matej Vydra and went with three strikers in the last 12 minutes and his efforts to win the game were so nearly rewarded following the Czech Republic international's arrival.
Deeney was the creator, showing good strength to win the ball back and surging down the left before crossing to the near post where Ighalo had got in front of his man, but he was unable to divert the ball beneath the crossbar with his outstretched right foot.
That looked like it would be the final opening, until Ipswich grabbed the points thanks to smart play from Sears and Chaplow's finish.