SUBSTITUTE Jon Nolan made an instant impact as Ipswich Town fought back from behind to draw 1-1 with promotion-chasing Derby County.

The Blues, anchored to the foot of the Championship, produced another spirited, encouraging display as they recovered from an early setback against the Rams.

With former manager and now Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy watching from the stands, Town made the worst possible start – just as they had in Sunday’s derby defeat at Norwich City.

Again, there were only two minutes on the clock when they fell behind with a move straight from the training ground.

Bradley Johnson’s dinked pass was headed back across the danger zone by Jayden Bogle and former Town loanee Tom Lawrence saw his downward volley bounce into the net, with the aid of a deflection off Jonas Knudsen.

However, Ipswich got the equaliser they truly deserved ten minutes into the second half.

Collin Quaner surged forward and slid an inviting pass into Nolan’s path.

The substitute, who had only been on the pitch two minutes, drilled a low effort into the net.

LINE-UP: Lambert made four changes to the side that lost at Carrow Road.

Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop and Quaner returned for skipper Luke Chambers, ruled out with his foot problem, Cole Skuse, Nolan and long-term injury victim Freddie Sears.

Knudsen moved into the centre of the defence, alongside Matt Pennington, with the full-backs being James Bree and Kenlock.

Ipswich utilised a diamond formation again, anchored by Trevoh Chalobah and headed by Alan Judge.

Bishop and Downes were the pair in the middle, with Town’s two-pronged attack being Will Keane and Quaner.

VERDICT: Town may be doomed at the foot of the table but they were unfortunate not to win this highly-entertaining contest.

In fact, it was their best home performance of the season.

After a retched start, they played with great spirit and a confidence belying their lowly position.

The formation worked a treat and what they lacked in natural width, they more than made up for in terms of industry and determination, as typified by young warhorses Bishop and Downes.

Keane and Quaner have the makings of an exciting partnership up front, supported by the always-menacing Judge.

And at the other end of the pitch, Knudsen was a rock in the heart of their defence, alongside the lion-hearted Pennington.

The Dane so nearly scored with a volleyed effort that was headed off the line, although Derby nearly pinched it at the death when David Nugent’s near-post header came back off the woodwork, having taken a deflection off Pennington.

Just before, Bartosz Bialkowski made a smart reaction save to keep out Richard Keogh’s header.

Town may be heading down but, on this evidence, they’re going down with a fight.

Keep it up and we may be in for an entertaining finale to the season, even if they have left it too late to dodge the drop.

PLAYER WATCH: Quaner has been stop-start since arriving at Portman Road, with his most eye-catching contribution coming at Aston Villa.

However, he showed what he’s about in this match and looked far more comfortable as part of a two-man attack, as opposed to ploughing a lone furrow.

He linked up well with Keane, is strong and robust and looked unstoppable as he drove at Keogh before teeing up Nolan.

Quaner was unfortunate to be withdrawn but, on this evidence, could have a big role to play in the final 14 games.

STAR MAN: Knudsen moved from his regular left-back role to the heart of Town’s defence.

Overall, he looked very well-suited to the position, relishing the battle without any need or onus to get forward and provide width.

The Dane was unlucky with the goal conceded, which deflected in off his back, but made numerous other blocks and tackles, in addition to playing some exquisite long balls forward.

He so nearly grabbed a winner in the second half – only to see his powerful volley headed off the line by Duane Holmes.

RATINGS: Bialkowski 7; Bree 7, Pennington 8, Knudsen 8, Kenlock 7; Chalobah 7, Bishop 7 (Dozzell 68, 7), Downes 7 (Nolan 53, 8), Judge 8; Keane 8, Quaner 8 (Harrison 75, 7). Unused: Gerken, Edwards, Jackson, Nsiala.

NEXT UP: Town are back at Portman Road on Saturday for a match against Stoke.