Ipswich Town boss makes honest Championship promotion admission as Leeds United hope for final-day miracle

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Leeds United need a miracle on the final day or else it will be playoff drama.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna never expected to be involved in a promotion race but now looks set to pip Leeds United to a top-two finish in the Championship, following Tuesday’s massive win at Coventry City.

Ipswich took a massive step towards their second automatic promotion in as many seasons after beating Coventry City 2-1 at the CBS Arena. Kieffer Moore and Cameron Burgess were on hand for the Tractor Boys, scoring either side of half-time. Haji Wright’s drilled effort cancelled out the former shortly after half-time but McKenna’s men rallied well to take a crucial three points.

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Victory saw Ipswich climb back into second-place and they are now three points clear of Leeds with just one game remaining on Saturday. A point at home to the virtually relegated Huddersfield Town will guarantee McKenna’s side join Leicester as a Premier League team and the Ipswich boss insists it has all happened faster than anyone expected.

“It was another emotional night, we've had a few of those,” McKenna told Sky Sports. “It's a great night to enjoy in front of our supporters. We know the significance of tonight won't be determined until Saturday and that's our next focus now.

“I don't think anyone was expecting [a promotion charge] to be honest. We wanted to come up, keep building a culture and impose our style of play. There’s 46 games to put our identity out there, to see how many points we get. 

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“We’ve done really well and to be on 93 points with one game to go is an incredible tally. I never thought this could unfold so quickly. I came here because of the ambition of the club. The journey has accelerated, I have to say."

Leeds can still pip Ipswich to the second automatic promotion place but need a final-day miracle to do so. Daniel Farke’s side host Southampton at Elland Road and must win to stand any chance, while also needing West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town to do them a huge favour in beating Ipswich at Portman Road.

A point or more for Ipswich on Saturday will consign Leeds to the drama of playoff football, with regrets still lingering over missed opportunities to increase the gap. Leeds could have gone four points clear with victory at Queens Park Rangers on Friday but capitulated to lose 4-0 - their heaviest defeat of the season at the worst possible time.

A third-placed finish will see Leeds come up against the sixth-placed finishers in the playoff semi-finals. West Brom currently occupy that spot but any one of them, Norwich City or Hull City could end up there come Saturday. Fourth-placed Southampton will play either Norwich or West Brom, with the winners of each two-legged semi-final meeting at Wembley for the final on Sunday, May 26.

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Leeds have not enjoyed a good record at all in the playoffs, with all five attempts to be promoted via that avenue ending in heartbreak both in the Championship and League One. Marcelo Bielsa’s side contrived to lose at home to Derby County in the most recent effort during the 2018/19 campaign.