City were denied a second away victory of the season by Ryan Fraser’s late equaliser in East Anglia.
Goalless at the break, Luke Chambers’ towering header put the promotion-chasing hosts in front within seconds of the restart.
But two goals in four minutes from Luke Freeman and Jonathan Kodjia gave the game a dramatic twist, leaving City holding on for maximum points until Fraser popped up four minutes from time.
Steve Cotterill made two changes in personnel and a couple more in position, as Mark Little and Nathan Baker returned in place of Liam Moore and the injured Korey Smith.
The alterations paved the way for a new-look approach in which Derrick Williams shifted to left wing-back and Joe Bryan stepped into an unfamiliar central midfield role up against Cole Skuse, who was facing his boyhood club for the first time after 18 years on the books at Ashton Gate.
Williams may have found himself in new territory but was soon making an impact when picking out Aaron Wilbraham, who took a touch and produced a cute backheel into the path of Kodjia.
The Frenchman struck the ball first time from 15 yards with a vicious shot just too close to Dean Gerken, who stuck out his right hand to make an impressive instinctive save.
Kodjia would come close again soon after as City started the game brightly. Little collected the ball on the far touchline and delivered a low cross slightly behind his team-mate, who nevertheless adjusted his body well to connect sweetly but could not angle his shot inside the near post.
That was after Daryl Murphy had sent the hosts’ first chance straight into the arms of Frank Fielding, while strike partner Freddie Sears soon had his first sight of goal in heading wide from a Fraser cross.
It was Ipswich’s turn to enjoy a positive spell, with the busy Fraser providing natural width and no shortage of crosses.
From one of his first-half corners, Fielding was called upon to make a diving stop away to his right when the ball appeared to come off Aden Flint.
Fraser was certainly doing his bit to force a breakthrough. Another sprightly burst down the left resulted in a half-chance for Murphy ten minutes before the interval, whose attempted backheel was blocked by the charging Baker, earning a pat on the back in appreciation from Flint for his efforts.
City were holding their own and showed their threat from set-pieces when Marlon Pack’s floated delivery from deep was headed across goal by Flint before Wilbraham was beaten to the loose ball by the slightly fortunate Gerken.
There was one more first-half scare when Murphy’s scuffed shot looped up off the sliding Baker and brushed against the side-netting with Fielding stranded, but it had been an encouraging opening period from a visiting point of view.
But City’s hopes of building on it suffered an immediate setback within seconds of the restart, as Chambers put the home team in front.
Jonas Knudsen’s long throw – one of many on the day – was cleared straight back out to the left-back, who opted against settling for another and instead produced a teasing cross dispatched at the far post by a powerful Chambers header, despite the best intentions of Flint on the goal-line.
Suddenly Ipswich had their tails up, and Murphy turned Flint on the edge of the box before rifling a fierce shot only inches wide.
It had the makings of an uphill struggle for City at that point, but an overdue slice of luck swung the balance in favour of Cotterill’s team.
When Freeman took down a high ball and skipped away from one challenge, his options looked limited with a sea of bodies between himself and the goal.
But, with minimal backlift, the midfielder tried his luck on his left foot. What followed was not his cleanest strike by any means, but a wicked deflection off defender Tommy Smith left former City keeper Gerken on his backside as the ball trickled almost apologetically into the net.
It was the stroke of good fortune City have been crying out for in recent weeks and paved the way for a quick-fire second superbly finished off by Kodjia.
Wilbraham held the ball up on the left touchline and waited for his partner to arrive, rolling the ball into Kodjia’s path for the summer signing to take in his stride and power through the Ipswich defence, lifting the ball delightfully over the advancing Gerken for his fifth goal of the season.
City would spend much of the remaining 35 minutes on the back foot as Town searched for an equaliser.
Fraser headed straight at Fielding, who was later forced to deal with a looping deflection off Luke Ayling and acrobatically tip the dropping ball over his crossbar.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles shot wide from 20 yards before Mick McCarthy introduced David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman – a third City connection wearing blue – for the closing stages.
And Pitman was involved for the leveller when his backheel was driven across goal by Sears and tapped in by Fraser at the far post.
There was still time for Pitman to threaten a cruel late winner, redirecting McGoldrick’s whipped shot with an instinctive header that beat Fielding but flew just past the post.