Ipswich Town fans craved some FA Cup fun for so long, but would rotation be acceptable this year?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town will host Lincoln City in the FA Cup first round on the weekend of November 9. STUART WATSON looks at the Blues’ recent woes in the competition and what Paul Lambert’s approach to it might be this year.
Ipswich Town are used to entering (and, in recent times, generally exiting) this competition at the third round stage.
Relegation to League One means they now start in the first round along with the other 46 League One and League Two clubs.
This will be the first time the club has played in the first round since 1956/57. Back then they beat Hastings United 4-0 at Portman Road.
RECENT CUP WOE
Sir Bobby Robson's men lifted the famous trophy in 1978 following a 1-0 victory against Arsenal at Wembley.
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Ipswich Town now gone almost a decade and 13 games (D4 L9) without a victory in the tournament, their last win coming against Blackpool (2-1 away) in January 2010 courtesy of goals from Jack Colback and Owen Garvan.
The Blues have since fallen at the first hurdle nine times in a row seasons, losing to lower-league opposition in four of last five campaigns.
10/11: Chelsea (a) 7-0
A baptism of fire for caretaker boss Ian McParland following Roy Keane's sacking. Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge both bagged braces.
11/12: Hull City (a) 3-1
Future Town players Aaron McLean and Cameron Stewart netted in this all Championship clash.
12/13: Aston Villa (a) 2-1
Town led through Michael Chopra's forced own goal before Paul Lambert's hosts hit back through Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann.
13/14: Preston NE (h) 2-2, (a) 3-2
Future Town striker Joe Garner stepped off the bench in the 62nd minute and scored a hat-trick for the League One hosts in the replay.
14/15: Southampton (a) 1-1, (h) 1-0
Darren Ambrose's header took the Premier League side back to Portman Road, but Town then froze in front of a BBC One audience as Shane Long grabbed the winner.
15/16: Portsmouth (h) 2-2, (a) 2-1
Ryan Fraser salvaged a home draw against the League Two side. Piotr Malarcyzk was dismissed in defeat on a cold night at Fratton Park.
16/17: Lincoln City (h) 2-2, (a) 1-0
Tom Lawrence's brace set up a replay. Town were then embarrassed by the non-league hosts in front of the BBC One cameras. Cue a passionate Terry Butcher rant on TV.
17/18: Sheffield United (h) 1-0
Town's patchwork side failed to produce a single shot on target. Nathan Thomas' 25-yard rocket sealed the tie.
18/19: Accrington Stanley (a) 1-0
Relegation-bound Town endured more misery with a comfortable defeat to League One opposition.
WHAT TEAM TO PLAY?
Mick McCarthy barely tried to hide his disdain for the world famous competition during his time at the helm. He would always make sweeping changes to his starting XI and, as a result, a ring-rusty, incohesive unit would crash out against fired up opposition.
Not taking knockout football seriously proved to be a major bone of contention for Blues fans as the club continued to tread water in the Championship. If the budget didn't allow for a good run at a promotion push, then why not try to make some memories (and money) in the cups?
The FA Cup might not have the reputation it once had, thanks to diverse kick-off times, semi-finals at Wembley and the increasing riches associated with league positions, but there is still a public thirst to see early round upsets. Being the butt of the joke is never fun.
Paul Hurst vowed to take knockout football seriously but had been sacked before even getting the chance to manage Town in the FA Cup.
So what does Paul Lambert do this year? Ironically, having called for managers to give it a go in the competition for so long, supporters might actually accept their boss saying that the league is priority A, B and C this season. Quickly bouncing back to the Championship is vitally important because the longer Town stay in the third-tier, the harder it is going to be get out.
What's the best that Town can realistically hope for - a run to the third round and a big day out at a Premier League giant? For that to happen there would be a minimum of two, possibly four, extra games in an already packed schedule.
A risk with regards to picking up key injuries or burning out players at a crucial stage of the campaign? Or perhaps cup games could provide a welcome distraction from the pressures of a promotion push and help build some positive momentum?
You get the sense Lambert is going to treat the FA Cup just like he has been the EFL Trophy - as a chance to keep youngsters, fringe players and those returning back from injuries sharp and happy. How far that approach will take Town in the competition we shall see.