Can Ipswich Town bring a year of TV nasties to an end at Charlton?
Ipswich Town are currently on their longest winless streak ever when it comes to live televised matches. Stuart Watson takes a look back at the 11 games the Blues have been on the box in 2015.
Town 0 Derby County 1 - Saturday, January 10
Town suffered only their second defeat in 22 matches, dropping out of the Championship automatic promotion places.
Chris Martin scored the game’s only goal in the 57th minute, the ex-Norwich City striker pouncing after a Tommy Smith error.
Rams midfielder John Eustace was fortunate not to be issued a second yellow card for a hefty off-the-ball barge on David McGoldrick just before half-time, but the Blues were well below-par, producing an uncharacteristically edgy performance full of unforced errors that will have left the neutrals watching on television wondering just how they were so far up the table.
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Town 0 Southampton 1 - Wednesday, January 14
Town exited the FA Cup with a limp 1-0 home defeat to high-flying Premier League side Southampton. The third-place Championship hosts huffed and puffed throughout the majority of the replay, a young Saints side taking the lead in the 19th minute through Shane Long’s smart finish and never having to get out of second gear thereafter.
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For the second successive game, Mick McCarthy’s men failed to do themselves justice in front of a television audience. No doubt the neutrals watching on BBC One will have wished the goalfest between Tottenham and Burnley, or Bradford’s underdog victory over Millwall, had been selected for broadcast instead.
Norwich City 2 Town 0 - Sunday, March 1
Town were leapfrogged in the table by their regional rivals following a cut-and-dry defeat at Carrow Road.
Bradley Johnson hammered a shot into the roof of the net in the 24th minute, with Lewis Grabban getting the final touch on a scrappy second midway through the second period. Town were typically competitive, but their direct tactics were painfully one-dimensional at times and the Canaries’ added-quality in the middle third proved the difference.
Middlesbrough 4 Town 1 - Saturday, March 14
The Blues’ promotion hopes appeared to be fading fast following a potentially confidence-shattering defeat. Boro played nowhere near their best but were still able to score four times – and it could easily have been more – thanks to Town’s worrying habit of conceding sloppy goals.
Two short corners were badly dealt with by the visitors in the first half, Daniel Ayala and Albert Adomah profiting either side of a Daryl Murphy goal. Town’s defence was then at sixes and sevens after the restart, Patrick Bamford beating a high offside trap to score the third (64) and cleverly leaving Tommy Smith in his wake ahead of the fourth (79).
Town 1 Bournemouth 1 - Friday, April 3
Kenwyne Jones’ late header denied Town a vital win. Freddie Sears provided an emphatic first-time finish in the sixth minute and the Blues then had to soak up lengthy periods of pressure from the free-flowing visitors.
For all their fancy football, the Cherries could not find a way through. That was until Eddie Howe brought on experienced target man Jones off the bench, the former Sunderland and Stoke man – only signed on loan from Cardiff the previous week – heading home with his first touch.
Wolves 1 Town 1 - Saturday, April 18
A hard-fought draw at Molineux meant Town maintained their top-six spot. Richard Stearman’s 22nd minute own goal against his former loan club came massively against the run of play, with the dynamic hosts levelling the match up three minutes after the restart when Benik Afobe slid in to net at the far post.
Ipswich then had to dig deep, former Wolves centre-back Christophe Berra in outstanding form and Kenny Jackett’s men guilty of trying to force the issue.
Blackburn 3 Ipswich 2 - Saturday, May 2
The Blues booked their play-off place after a nerve-shredding last day to the regular Championship season saw them lose but scrape into sixth spot courtesy of results elsewhere. Town enjoyed a perfect start, Murphy netting inside two minutes, but found themselves 2-1 down at the break after goals from Jordan Rhodes (36) and Craig Conway (42).
Things got worse when Rudy Gestede made it 3-1 before Murphy pulled one back. In the end none of that mattered thanks to Reading’s shock 3-0 win at Derby, each of the Royals’ goals celebrated by Town fans with gusto in the away end at Ewood Park.
Town 1 Norwich City 1 - Saturday, May 9
Having lost twice to their rivals in the league, Town recorded a confidence-boosting come-from-behind draw in their play-off semi-final first leg at Portman Road. Jonny Howson broke the deadlock in a frenetic first half, the Canaries’ midfielder slotting home from 12 yards in the 41st minute after Cameron Jerome had shrugged off Tommy Smith down the left and centred into the penalty box.
However, Paul Anderson replied for Town from close-range in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage-time, firing in the rebound after John Ruddy had failed to deal with a Freddie Sears shot from the edge of the penalty box.
Norwich City 3 Town 1 - Saturday, May 16
Christophe Berra’s red card early in the second half proved to be the turning point as Town lost 3-1 in the play-off semi-final, second leg, going out 4-2 on aggregate. The tie remained on a knife’s edge until Berra was given his marching orders for handling Nathan Redmond’s shot on the goal-line in the 50th minute, Wes Hoolahan converting the spot-kick.
Showing typical never-say-die spirit, Mick McCarthy’s men drew level when Tommy Smith produced a fine poacher’s finish on the hour mark. The tie was level for less than four minutes, however, with Redmond’s low shot squirming under the dive of Bartosz Bialkowski. And Norwich’s progress to Wembley was effectively sealed when Cameron Jerome latched onto a through ball and added a killer third in the 76th minute.
Reading 5 Town 1 - Friday, September 11
Town folded in front of a television audience on a sobering night, Reading ending their Madejski goal drought in style. The Royals had gone four months without netting on home turf, but they converted five of their nine attempts on goal – some slick attacking play helped hugely by some shambolic away defending.
Orlando Sa netted twice in the opening 15 minutes, either side of Freddie Sears’ quick reply, with Nick Blackman netting the morale crushing third soon after the restart following a calamitous moment of miscommunication between Dean Gerken and Cole Skuse. Sa claimed the match ball in the 63rd minute, with Oliver Norwood’s 30-yard strike at the death rubbing salt in the wounds.
Town 1 Birmingham City 1 - Friday, September 18
Ipswich had to make do with a share of the spoils after missing several decent goalscoring opportunities in the second half. Brett Pitman’s converted penalty cancelled out David Cotterill’s opener in an even opening period.
Mick McCarthy’s men – who could have gone up to second in the table with a victory – were then guilty of profligacy as Luke Chambers, Ainlsey Maitland-Niles and Daryl Murphy all missed the target from golden positions on a frustrating evening at Portman Road.
Town now face a trio of Sky televised games in succession – Charlton away on Saturday (12.30pm), Middlesbrough at home (Friday, December 4, 7.45pm) and MK Dons away (Saturday, December 12, 12.30pm).