I’m sure most fans are feeling nervous for this weekend’s game at Ipswich, writes Tom Morton.
Just looking at the stats the Tractor Boys have lots of green, whereas we have amber, and are stringing together some real momentum. That has rightly left them second in the table. In fact, they have clocked up only one loss so far this season, which was to top-of-the-table Plymouth. What does stand out for Ipswich is their goal scoring, they top the table for goals scored this season (27), having scored 14 in six at home, and securing a huge goal difference of 16 at this early part of the season. All of this really adds up to a formidable opponent.
Whilst I always hold out hope, it’s pretty unlikely we will be a stumbling block for such high flyers. But we can perhaps hope to be amongst the few to hold them to a draw or at least keep the scoreline down. Maybe that is a bit pessimistic but we should be realistic.
What has kicked Ipswich, who finished 11th last year, out of the starting blocks this year? It looks like manager Kieran McKenna is getting his team into gear. McKenna joined the Tractor Boys in December 21 after a poor run of form and turned things around. In light of their poor first half-season, an 11th-place finish was pretty impressive. Over the summer McKenna has made what looks like some smart signings – including Freddie Ladapo from Rotherham and Marcus Harness from Portsmouth, both players who impressed on the pitch last season. I also like the look of Leif Davis at left back who joined from Leeds for a “seven-figure” sum.
Either way, clearly McKenna has a plan that is beginning to work. It’s no surprise that the “Cowley effect” is in play, with him recently being linked with moves to Championship clubs.
Tactically I wouldn’t say Ipswich are doing anything radical compared to other teams we’ve seen – but they are doing it well. Expect some pace and a lot of possession on their part (against Morecambe, for example, they had 67% possession). What I think is making them dangerous is movement off the ball. In highlights, you can see some really good running and positioning that opens up lots of passing options. This could be a challenge for us to lock down. They are also great at moving forward with pace so if we do press we need to be prepared to recover quickly.
McKenna was pretty positive about the Imps in previews, saying his team would have to be “on guard” and praising our ability to limit chances on the field. Last week’s performance was an interesting one, but it is fair to say our back-line is looking more and more impressive every game. It is going forward we lack creativity and there is not likely to be a huge amount of possession for us to work with at Portman Road. So expect chances to be few and far between, sadly.
We will see a slightly familiar face on the field. Tyreece John-Jules joined The Blues from Arsenal on a season-long loan and seems to be settling in well, featuring on the right wing and scoring two goals. Tyreece appeared briefly for us in 2020, joining on loan in the January window. He played 7 games, scoring one, and looked quite promising before succumbing to a season-ending injury.
Head to Head
We have very little history with Ipswich as we’ve largely moved in different circles. There was a stint in the late 50’s when they joined us in Division Two and of course recent clashes in League One. Our performance has been fairly balanced with us trading wins and losses. There was a fab 5-3 home win in December 2019 that I remember being a lot of fun, but to be honest, since then they’ve mostly edged us in 1-0 encounters.
Oh yes, of course, there is the infamous FA Cup run of 2017 when we beat them 1-0 in a replay to reach the fourth round. Not only was that a fab match in which we were dominant throughout, it also ended with a glorious goal from Nathan Arnold (arguably one of our finest goals ever and certainly a “top 5” assist from Adam Marriott). Let’s all just take a minute to watch Marriott’s pass & Arnold’s finish. We might not see that fine a performance on Saturday, but you just never know.