IPSWICH Town’s grim survival chances suffered yet another bodyblow after conceding late on and crashing to a 1-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Paul Lambert’s men went into the game knowing nothing less a victory would do, given the seven-point gap between themselves and Championship safety.

But in the end, they were not even able to hang on for a goalless draw as the Owls struck through substitute Lucas Joao in the 90th minute.

It was another kick in the teeth that once again reinforces what we already knew beforehand – that Town need a miracle to avoid sliding into League One.

To give themselves even a fighting chance, they have to win their home games – especially given their woeful away record – and so this was a major missed opportunity.

Not that they deserved anything anyway, in terms of chances created.

Town were fortunate to be on level terms at the end of a disjointed, forgettable first half.

The Owls had four notable chances, starting with a clever pass from Michael Hector to Steven Fletcher.

However, the Scot’s shot from deep inside the box struck Bartosz Bialkowski’s leg.

The ball broke to Barry Bannon and his effort was blocked by Toto Nsiala.

Adam Reach inexplicably scooped a close-range effort over the bar, from Morgan Fox’s low cross, and Fernando Forestieri headed tamely over from a right-wing delivery by Liam Palmer.

Forestieri then tried his luck with a near-post shot that was pushed away by Bialkowski.

Wednesday also had the best chance of the second half, following a dreadful lapse in concentration from Nsiala (see player watch).

Thankfully for him, Forestieri fired over the bar.

Town, roared on by their fans, finished positively, prior to the goal.

Myles Kenlock, Cole Skuse and Will Keane were all involved in their best move of the game. Alan Judge cut inside but his left-footed effort flew over the bar.

With time running out, Trevoh Chalobah’s downward header from Judge’s corner was smothered at the second attempt by keeper Keiren Westwood.

Wednesday, with new boss Steve Bruce taking charge for the first time, then grabbed their winner in the 90th minute.

Reach connected with a cross-field pass, got the better of Kenlock and pulled the ball back for Joao to smash past Bialkowski.

LINE-UP: Lambert made four changes to his starting line-up and was forced to shuffle his back four, owing to injuries to centre-halves Luke Chambers and James Collins.

Matt Pennington, right-back in recent weeks, and Nisala, making his first league start since October 20, filled in, with deadline-day signing James Bree starting in the full-back berth vacated by Pennington.

Teddy Bishop returned in midfield, at the expense of Chalobah, while striker Collin Quaner was preferred to Keane.

Josh Emmanuel was back among the substitutes, following his loan spell at Shrewsbury, while Andre Dozzell returned to the squad for the first time since Town’s FA Cup exit at Accrington Stanley.

VERDICT: Town need to win their home games and pick up bonus points on the road, if they’re to stay in the fight to avoid relegation to League One.

This result, therefore, was an absolute catastrophe. The very last thing they needed and the fact the winning goal came so late rubbed salt into the wound.

For all their huffing and puffing, Town only created one proper chance – Chalobah’s header.

Frustratingly, they also seemed reluctant to shoot and their only efforts were half-hearted attempts from Sears, Downes and Judge.

Overall, it would have been a travesty had Wednesday not won, given the chances the Owls created.

And yet bizarrely, given the hosts’ spirited late finish, it felt like the winner came against the run of play.

Either way, it was a crushing blow for Town, who are now eight points from safety as a result of Rotherham's draw at Millwall.

PLAYER WATCH: Nsiala made his long-awaited return to the starting line-up – ironically against the same opposition that he scored against before being sent off in late August.

A woeful early pass drew a few groans around the ground.

But he was solid for the remainder of the first half, sticking out his left leg to block a goal-bound shot from Bannon.

Nsiala nearly had a calamitous moment on the hour-mark, hoofing the ball in the air and then switching off as Forestieri raced onto Sam Hutchinson’s header. Mercifully, the striker rushed his shot and lashed over.

Forestieri broke free in the box soon after but Nsiala did well, sticking to him like glue and forcing him wide. The ball eventually dribbled out for a goal-kick.

RATINGS: Bialkowski 7; Bree 6, Nsiala 6, Pennington 6, Kenlock 5; Bishop 6 (Chalobah 74 7), Skuse 6, Downes 5 (Harrison 90); Sears 6, Quaner 5 (Keane 55 7), Judge 7. Unused subs: Gerken, Nolan, Dozzell, Emmanuel.

STAR MAN: Judge just about shaded it.

The wide man looks a decent acquisition and not least for his dangerous, whipped-in set-pieces.

His free-kicks caused problems and it was from one of his corners that Chalobah nearly scored – only to be denied by Westwood.

NEXT UP: Town head up the A140 next Sunday for a meeting with their old friends at Norwich City.