Tom Lees was sent-off as Leeds United failed to win on their travels yet again at Ipswich.
Although none of their play-off rivals were able to win on the day, the Whites could not take advantage as they were made to pay for not being able to make the most of early domination and found the going tough following the red card shown to Lees for a dangerous 32nd minute high tackle on Jay Tabb.
David McGoldrick bagged a quickfire brace either side of half-time to sink Leeds and almost certainly end their promotion chances.
Neil Warnock’s side made much of the early running, only to find Town goalkeeper Scott Loach in inspired form.
Fit-again striker Steve Morison and veteran midfielder Michael Brown returned to the Leeds starting line-up, with Ross McCormack and Rodolph Austin dropping to the bench, the latter after a long flight back from international duty with Jamaica.
United enjoyed the game’s first clear-cut opening in the 11th minute as home keeper Scott Loach misjudged Stephen Warnock’s in-swinging corner from the right and saw the ball cannon back off his crossbar before Paul Green’s follow-up was cleared off the line.
The keeper made amends when thwarting David Norris and reacting swiftly as Green again came close moments later.
Loach remained busy as the half passed its midway point, getting down sharply to keep out a well-hit Luke Varney drive before beating away Morison’s header from the resulting corner.
Brown glanced Warnock’s cross over, but the game turned on Lees’ sending off with referee James Adcock showing little hesitation in brandishing his red card in response to the ill-judged lunge on Tabb.
Leeds reshuffled and initially coped with the numerical disadvantage, Norris and Morison again going close, but McGoldrick showed poachers’ instincts in first-half stoppage time to give Ipswich the lead.
Luke Hyam headed Carlos Edwards’ cross against the crossbar and McGoldrick was on hand to nod into an unguarded net.
And he gave Town breathing space four minutes after the restart - Hyam was a more intentional architect on this occasion and a slight deflection on the striker’s left-footed shot left Leeds keeper Paddy Kenny helpless.
Kenny prevented McGoldrick from completing his hat-trick in the 56th minute, but either side of that strike Loach saved with his legs to deny Morison from close range and Whites full-back Sam Bryam had a powerful header stopped from a Warnock set-piece.
Emmanuel-Thomas responded by settling Ipswich nerves in style, drilling emphatically past Kenny after Aaron Cresswell crafted the 68th minute opportunity superbly.
The former Arsenal youngster rifled a volley over when attempting to double his tally shortly after, while Kenny was forced to deny Tabb and substitute Michael Chopra in the closing stages.
Ipswich Town 3
(McGoldrick 45, 49, Emmanuel-Thomas 68)
Leeds United 0
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Ipswich: Loach, Cresswell, Chambers, Stearman, Edwards (Emmanuel-Thomas 64), McGoldrick (Chopra 78), Drury, Tabb, Hyam, Smith, Murphy (Nouble 78).
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Lees, Warnock, Brown, Green (Pearce 46), Tonge (White 69), Norris, Varney (McCormack 69), Morison.
Referee: J Adcock