Ipswich Town 1 Middlesborough 1
A last-minute equaliser by new Ipswich striker David Johnson prevented Middlesbrough from climbing to the top of the first division.
Paul Merson's 33rd minute strike looked as though it was going to be enough for Boro to leapfrog over Nottingham Forest on goal difference.
But after both teams had a player sent off, Johnson netted his first goal at Portman Road and his third in four games since his £1.1million move from Bury to grab a crucial point for Town.
The double sending-off came in the 41st minute, when West Midlands referee Mike Fletcher dismissed Ipswich striker James Scowcroft and Boro defender Craig Harrison for an off-the-ball incident.
The offence was spotted by a referee's assistant, who initially thought that Boro's Republic of Ireland midfielder, Andy Townsend, was the culprit.
However, a minute's earnest discussion with Townsend and Boro skipper Nigel Pearson convinced Fletcher that he had the wrong man and Harrison eventually joined Scowcroft, who had long since disappeared up the tunnel.
Townsend was eventually booked for a scything tackle on Kieron Dyer, and was joined in Fletcher's notebook by former Boro skipper Tony Mowbray, Ipswich team-mate Mauricio Taricco and Boro's Craig Hignett and Pearson.
Ipswich had two good chances as early as the second minute, when Matt Holland narrowly failed to connect with a cross from Mick Stockwell, who was making his 500th appearance for Ipswich.
Seconds later Johnson completely missed his kick in front of goal from a low Dyer cross.
Boro took the lead when Emerson quickly chipped a freekick from the halfway line over the static Town defence and Merson, looking suspiciously offside, ran on to poke the ball between Richard Wright's legs.
Merson, who was outstanding, had earlier hit the crossbar after running free on the left flank and then tried a volley from 40 yards which England Under 21 keeper Richard Wright saved.
Boro had a goal disallowed in the 76th minute, when Emerson found Beck in an offside position, and Johnson made them pay in a last-gasp goalmouth scramble, with Argentine defender Taricco hitting the post before the striker pounced.