FREDDIE Sears grabbed a precious, if fortuitous, second-half winner as Ipswich Town boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 victory at home to Wigan Athletic.

The former Colchester United striker netted in the 67th minute with an effort that bounced up and seemingly deflected in off a Latics defender, via the shoulder of keeper Christian Walton.

It was only Town’s second victory of the season, following their dramatic win at Swansea City in October.

And it was a result that breathed much-needed life into their quest to avoid relegation, ahead of another big home fixture against Sheffield United next Saturday.

VERDICT: In Town’s position at the bottom of the table, they dearly needed a slice of luck – something that’s been in short supply this term.

Any goal would do if it earned three points, even one that deflected in off a player’s backside.

Sears’ strike certainly falls into the scrappy, fortunate category. It was unconvincingly hit and deflected in… but who cares?

The bottom line is that is that it led to a precious victory, to keep Town in touch with the other sides languishing at the foot of the Championship.

Portman Road has been anything but a fortress this season – more a village inn with a cosy fire and free beer, where visitors feast on three points before setting off on their merry way.

They have only won twice at home all year – against Leeds United in January and Barnsley in April.

Thankfully, however, the losing trend ended on Saturday.

Town started brightly and played some neat football early on, without fashioning many chances.

Jonas Knudsen was denied at the far post after an enticing cross from Jon Nolan.

Sears then raced through on goal, to the right, but lifted his effort over the bar.

There were some nervous moments, too.

Josh Windass steered an effort harmlessly wide, connecting with a low right-wing cross, when most expected to see the ball nestle in the bottom corner.

Reece James then went even closer after the break when his rising effort from the right clattered the crossbar.

However, Sears’ effort soon after settled a contest that may not live long in the memory but could prove crucial come May.

LINE-UP: Lambert kept faith with the same 11 that lost at Stoke City last Saturday.

That meant Dean Gerken kept his place in goal behind the regular back four of Jordan Spence, Luke Chambers, Matt Pennington and Knudsen.

With Cole Skuse still injured, Town’s midfield trio were Nolan, Trevoh Chalobah and Flynn Downes and the three up front were Jack Lankester, Jordan Roberts and Sears.

Former Town duo Callum Connolly and Gary Roberts started for the Latics, with Joe Garner on the bench for Paul Cook’s side. Ex-Blues defender Alex Bruce did not make their 18.

STAR MAN: Pennington hardly put a foot wrong and looked solid at the heart of Town’s defence.

He won plenty in the air, made numerous tackles and interceptions and his distribution was excellent.