Burton Albion v Ipswich Town preview: Blues once again head to the Pirelli Stadium needing traction in their season

Freddie Sears scores Ipswich Town's second at Burton Albion last season. Photo: Pagepix

Freddie Sears scores Ipswich Town's second at Burton Albion last season. Photo: Pagepix

Ipswich Town will look to halt a poor run of results at Championship strugglers Burton Albion tomorrow. STUART WATSON previews the match.

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough. Photo: PA

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Gone for a Burton?

For the second season running, Town badly need to find some traction at the Pirelli Stadium.

The Blues were increasingly in danger of being sucked into the relegation zone after claiming just 18 points from their opening 17 league games of 2017.

A gritty Good Friday win against the Brewers – a Luke Varney own goal and Freddie Sears finish coming in a 2-1 win – was massive. It was quickly followed by a morale-boosting home victory over Newcastle on Easter Monday to virtually ensure a 16th successive season in the Championship.

Six months later and Town return to Staffordshire under pressure again. The stakes might not quite be so high with only 12 games played, but Town could certainly do with a positive result and performance to prevent a toxic vibe returning.

The goodwill garnered from a five-game winning start has all but dissipated following seven defeats from nine in all competitions. Last Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to rivals Norwich City did little to help the mood.

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How the Brewers fare

Nigel Clough worked a minor miracle to keep Burton up in what was the club’s first-ever season at second-tier level. Now he faces the difficult second season having turned down the chance to follow in his famous father’s footsteps and take charge at Nottingham Forest.

Key midfielder Jackson Irvine was sold to Hull in the summer, while loan players such as Michael Kightly, Chris O’Grady and Cauley Woodrow also departed.

There’s something of a striker shortage at present. Record signing Liam Boyce ruptured his knee ligaments in pre-season, Will Miller (hamstring) hasn’t featured since August, while Lucas Akins (hamstring) and Joe Mason (back) are doubts for Saturday.

Ten points from 13 games leaves Burton third-from-bottom. Their two wins were both 2-1 at home against Birmingham and Fulham. They are currently on a six-game winless streak.

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Beating the bottom sides

The theme of Town’s season has been beating those at the bottom (Bolton, Sunderland, Birmingham, Barnsley, Brentford and Millwall all 15th or below) while coming up just short against those towards the top (Fulham, Bristol City, Norwich, Leeds and Sheffield United all in the top 10). The defeat at 17th-placed QPR is the anomaly.

With games against high-flying Cardiff (a) and Preston (h) coming up before the next international break, getting some points in the bag tomorrow could well be crucial. November and December doesn’t get any easier either.

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