Dave Gooderham: Like it or not, we’ve got to back Lambert – promotion is still very much on
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It’s been a fortnight since my last Ipswich Town column. And it’s been a fortnight in keeping with this rollercoaster season, writes Dave Gooderham,
The odd high and some hope. But mainly some terrible lows of shipping in five goals against Lincoln City and being dumped out of the EFL Cup by Lee Martin's Exeter City - with fans being deprived of a trip to not-so-new Wembley. For now at least.
When I last wrote some words on the Super Blues, I offered pre-Christmas hope with the return of Freddie Sears and my festive wish was a return to winning 1-0 on the road. Obviously, those who played at Lincoln had other ideas.
What has happened since then? It's almost a case of what hasn't happened…
Hapless goals conceded, a renewed goalkeeping debate, the return of Teddy, more head-scratching over formations and personnel, dropping down (slightly) in the league and that cup exit.
Christmas is usually a busy time for one and all - and it has been whistle-stop for fans of Ipswich Town.
The Portsmouth defeat and the Gillingham goalless home game seem like a distant memory. The Sincil Bank 90 minutes more like a nightmare.
Then there was blessed hope in the shape of a 1-1 draw against league leaders Wycombe on New Year's Day. It was disappointing not to take all three points - for Will Norris more than most - but there were true signs of promise.
Alan Judge in a central position, some decent passing and a fantastic goal to boot. Were we turning a corner?
Who knows after the shock cup exit? I made no secret of the fact that I wanted Town to progress in this competition, for no other reason that I wanted to take my boys to Wembley to see Ipswich. Simple as. That, of course, could still happen in the play-offs. But, of course, I'd rather it didn't.
Where does all that leave us? To be honest, I don't really know. I haven't for quite some time.
We are now left with 21 league games and no further 'distractions' - which can only be a good thing.
Despite a truly abysmal run, we are still well in contention for an instant return to the Championship. I don't really know how, and that probably speaks of a rather poor standard in the third tier.
But against that league-focused backdrop is the fact that fans are approaching games with almost trepidation. Accrington at home on Saturday, that will be a tough test. A visit to Oxford next Tuesday, they are up there and might start the game as favourites.
Due to the poor performances by our men in blue, we have allowed ourselves to focus, nay worry, about the opposition too much. 1-0 to the Ipswich Town seems like a distant memory.
Marcus Evans' decision to 'reward' all this uncertainly and poor form with an extended contract to Paul Lambert was a strange one. But it does give a sense of stability off the pitch at least.
Whether we agree or not, wanted a change or to remain, Lambert is the man. We all now need to get fully behind him and be united, away from social media at least.
Of course, as quickly as we had doubts, we can all enjoy a Lambert love-in once again if we could just start celebrating a precious three points.
Saturday would be a good start, but right now you can make just as much a case for Ipswich slipping out of the top six come 5pm, as you could them closing the gap on the top two.
Momentum is a wonderful thing in football. But it works both ways, and there is only one way Ipswich are heading right now.
I could make a call for Portman Road to be at its nosiest this weekend or our players to show leadership, creativity and play with no fear. But to be honest, right now, I'd take a below-par performance and a last minute deflected own goal off the referee, if it meant we tasted victory once again.
These are desperate times in an intriguing promotion race that arguably involves 16 teams and should go right to the wire. Intriguing, but a little depressing right now.
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