ELLIS Harrison marked his long-awaited return to Ipswich Town’s starting line-up with a stunning goal in an entertaining 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United.

The front man had been sidelined with an ankle injury but, after a couple of substitute appearances, was restored to Paul Lambert’s team in place of Jordan Roberts.

He capped his comeback with a brilliant goal – aided by a slight deflection – from the edge of the box, after being fed by Freddie Sears.

However, it was a lead Town could only hold until the second minute of the second half, when Billy Sharp poached to nod home from close range, capitalising on a pinpoint cross from Oliver Norwood.

Lambert’s men remain bottom of the Championship but now four points from safety, as opposed to five, following defeats for fellow strugglers Reading, Millwall and Bolton.

Next up is a trip to QPR on Boxing Day.

LINE-UP: Lambert made three changes from the side that held on to defeat Wigan Athletic last Saturday.

Andre Dozzell replaced Flynn Downes, who dropped out of the 18, Gwion Edwards started on the right ahead of Jack Lankester and striker Harrison was preferred to Roberts, making his first start since the mid-September draw against Brentford.

VERDICT: Town fans will have been delighted – albeit it slightly confused – by their side’s interval lead.

The Blades bossed the early stages and Dean Gerken was called on in the second minute to turn behind a half-volley from Sharp.

The keeper also held a daisy-cutter from Mark Duffy while, in between, Sharp missed the target after getting on the end of Enda Stevens’ cross.

At the other end, Harrison had a header saved by Dean Henderson, from Jordan Spence’s inviting cross, but United went close again through John Egan, who headed over from a corner, and Sharp, who missed the target after connecting with a right-wing cross by George Baldock.

Luke Chambers had a headed goal disallowed for a push but it was against the run of play when Harrison lashed Town into a 38th-minute lead, blasting home with the aid of a deflection after being fed by Sears.

Town’s lead only lasted two minutes of the second half, when Sharp nodded home a trademark goal after getting on the end of a peach of a right-wing cross from Norwood.

The game then settled into an even, entertaining contest.

Sears went closest for Town, having a close-range effort blocked after Dozzell’s corner caused chaos in the United box.

The Blades’ best chances fell to Stevens, who volleyed into the side-netting, and Egan, who headed over from John Fleck’s corner.

PLAYER WATCH: Harrison made a welcome return to the starting line-up, having been on the bench for the last couple of games.

As was the case with the whole team, things started slowly and he saw little of the ball in the first 20 minutes, comfortably shackled by centre-halves Chris Basham and Egan.

However, he warmed into the game and saw a header easily held by Henderson.

Harrison then fired his side into a first-half lead, unleashing a thunderbolt shot from the edge of the area that took a slight deflection before nestling in the top right-hand corner.

The former Bristol Rovers man continued to work tremendously hard in the second half and that was typified by a couple of courageous blocks in quick succession to cut out Fleck’s corner and then Stevens’ shot.

Harrison was replaced by Roberts after 77 minutes.

STAR MAN: Harrison is an obvious choice because of his goal and overall work-rate. However, for me, for the second week running, Town’s best player was Matthew Pennington.

The centre-half has hit form at a pivotal time and did a great job in keeping former Blue David McGoldrick quiet.

He stood firm to block an effort from the front man, as he drove towards him, and other highlights included hurling himself to head behind a dangerous right-wing cross and making an exceptionally-timed tackle on Sharp.