Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says his side 'won't take too many backwards steps' against automatic promotion rivals Southampton at Portman Road this afternoon (5.30pm, Sky Sports).

The Blues ground out a 1-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers on Good Friday to move top of the Championship table with seven games to go.

Fourth-place Southampton are 10 points behind Town with two games in hand to play and still very much in a thrilling four way top-two race that also involves Leeds United and Leicester City.

"They'll be looking to win the game and so will we," said McKenna, whose side have won eight of their last nine games.

"I hope it's going to be a great game. We want to take that challenge on.

"It's one of the games you look for at the start of the season. When are you going to play the teams who are just down from the Premier League and who are stocked with that level of talent?

"I really enjoyed our games against Leeds (3-4) and Leicester (1-1) at Portman Road. I know we only managed to get a point out of those games, but I thought it was two excellent performances where the players and the supporters really represented the club and did us proud.

"That's what we'll aim for again. We'll aim to deliver a performance in our identity and I'm sure the supporters will deliver a fantastic atmosphere. If we do those things we give ourselves a chance to get a result."

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Ipswich have come out on the right side of several thrilling goalfests at Portman Road this season, with pass masters Southampton scoring and conceding plenty of goals too.

"I think both teams try and be dominant in the game and be the proactive team in the game, probably in slightly different ways," said McKenna.

"Our identity was most formed in League One. This season we've had to show different sides of ourselves to try and win games with where we're at.

"With Southampton in this league they can express their identity through almost every game because of the quality that they have. They're a very well-coached team, look to dominate the ball in almost every game and they do that really well. 

"We'll try and impose ourselves, we'll go toe-to-toe with the opponent like we do in every game, but we know we're going to have to suffer at times and show a real array of qualities.

"Will there be lots of goals? Let's see. It's not like we go out trying to win 4-3 or 3-2. For sure we try and play bravely, but we'll also try and defend really well and be organised.

"I know we're not going to take too many backwards steps. We're going to go and try and be aggressive in the game like we do against everyone. I'm sure they'll try and be positive as well. It's going to be two really good teams. Let's see how the game pans out."

Reflecting on his side's 1-0 win at St Mary's last August, Omari Hutchinson scoring the only goal of the game, McKenna said: "It was a really good game for us. It's always a challenge, midweek away from home. We were missing some players as well. I think it was the first league start for the likes of Jack (Taylor), Omari (Hutchinson), Brandon (Williams). That night showed that we had a squad where people could come in and contribute and that's something we've needed all season.

"I thought we played well and just about deserved the win. Most people would probably say that Southampton have improved since then. They put together a club-record unbeaten run, so we know we're going to face a really good team.

"We can't take too much from the first game. We know this is going to be a fresh 90 minutes and that's what we're going to be ready for."