Keane strikes in the last minute to give Town a share of the spoils
Will Keane’s last minute goal gave Town a share of the points at Portman Road.
James McClean’s first-half goal looked to have proved the difference between the sides. The Republic of Ireland international latched on to in-decision in the Town defence just before the break to fire into an empty net.
Alan Judge hit the woodwork with an excellent free-kick but with time almost up, Keane rose highest at a corner to head in the equaliser.
Town made one change to the side that drew with Derby in midweek, Jon Nolan replacing Flynn Downes, who has been struggling with illness.
Bart Bialkowski, skippering Town for a second time, had an anxious moment as Tom Edwards’ cross drifted over the ‘keeper and the crossbar, Blues responding with a cross from James Bree that was bundled away from danger.
Bialkowski held firm from McClean’s cross as Sam Vokes challenged, Tom Ince got in behind the Town defence but Matt Pennington and then Myles Kenlock just did enough to clear the danger, then Ince smashed a left footer over from close range after McClean’s excellent cross.
Stoke carried a threat down the right, Edwards and then Ince again looked to get in, while at the other end Collin Quaner worked his way into the Potters’ box but Danny Batth cleared, Trevoh Chalobah testing Jack Butland with a strike from the edge of the box.
Judge got on the end of a flowing move down the left but his cross was cleared by Batth, Joe Allen firing over from Sam Clucas’ pass, Bree quelling the threat from McClean as Stoke used the flanks to good effect.
McClean and Clucas were constantly linking up down the left and it needed Nolan to clear, then from the other flank, Vokes headed over from close range in the clearest chance of the first 35 minutes.
Ince teased the Town defence out wide again before whipping in a cross that beat everyone and bounced to safety, Teddy Bishop repeating the feat at the other end with a mazy run and cross that drifted behind.
Bishop again threatened to get in with his trickery on the ball causing the Stoke defence problems but it was the visitors who took the lead three minutes before the break with McClean capitalising on confusion at the back to smash the ball into the empty net after Jonas Knudsen’s header had evaded Bialkowski.
Judge responded with a shot wide and then another right footer held by Butland with the half ending with McClean again providing an outlet for the visitors, Blues smothering his cross away from danger.
Bishop took the attack to the visitors again as the second-half got underway, his run stopped on the edge of the box by Ryan Woods, then the influential Peter Etebo stopped Judge getting away on a break for Town.
Judge was inches away from an equaliser with a free-kick that hit the woodwork after Bishop had been fouled, Etebo far less accurate with a long range effort, then Bishop and Nolan linking up well to force a corner, Bruno Martins Indi clearing.
Kayden Jackson replaced Quaner in Town’s first change on the hour, Vokes sending a right footer over after Edwards’ terrific run had set him up, then the Stoke full-back tested Bialkowski with a near post cross.
Benik Afobe replaced McClean in Stoke’s first change with Gwion Edwards on for Nolan, Charlie Adam entering the fray for Woods in a flurry of movement from the bench.
Kenlock couldn’t take advantage of a good position inside the Stoke area as Town pushed for an equaliser, Edwards providing an immediate impact for Blues with a run and cross that saw Jackson send an acrobatic overhead kick over the bar.
Time looked to be up when Blues forced a corner in added on time and Keane had the Blue Army on their feet with a header into the net for his second goal in Town colours.
Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Pennington, Knudsen, Kenlock, Nolan (Edwards 80), Bishop (Nsiala 90) Chalobah, Judge, Quaner (Jackson 62), Keane. Subs not used: Gerken, Dozzell, Skuse, Dawkins.
Stoke: Butland, Allen, Ince (Shawcross 88), Etebo, Vokes, McClean (Afobe 76), Batth, Martini Indi, Clucas, Edwards, Woods (Adam 80). Subs not used: Federeci, Bauer, Williams, Bojan. Booked: McClean.