Terrestrial TV, the FA Cup and Ipswich Town... hold on tight folks
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town take on Barrow, at Holker Street, in an FA Cup second round replay tonight (7.45pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Ipswich Town are making a 640-mile round trip to the Cumbrian coast because they failed to beat struggling League Two opposition at the first time of asking on home soil.
Paul Cook was sacked as Blues boss within hours of that drab goalless draw at Portman Road 11 days ago.
It's the second time this season that this has happened for the Blues. They drew 1-1 at home to Oldham, also at the bottom end of the fourth-tier table, meaning a midweek trip to Great Manchester was required.
Cook's men went behind at Boundary Park, but went on to win 2-1 thanks to Conor Chaplin's equaliser and Idris El Mizouni's superb volley.
Ipswich have made a habit of drawing home games against lower league opponents in the FA Cup, thus requiring an extra game and travel. It's now happened five times over the last eight years, previous examples being Preston in 2014, Portsmouth in 2016 and Lincoln in 2017.
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The 'prize' awaiting the winners of this match is a third round trip to Barnsley on January 8.
Okay, so it might not be the most glamorous of draws, but everyone connected with Ipswich should be desperate to see them win tonight and set up a trip to Oakwell.
Let's not forget that Ipswich haven't made it to the third round since dropping out of the Championship in 2019.
And with the Tykes currently 23rd in the second-tier table (with only 13 points from 22 games) this represents a good opportunity for Town to create a mini cupset.
Hopefully, come the start of the new year, a new manager will have really got the team going. Imagine getting into the last 32? Imagine what a cup run and/or big game against Premier League opposition could do to the mood?
Tonight's match is being broadcast live by ITV.
An FA Cup game in front of the television cameras... What could possibly go wrong?
Town, as if you need reminding, have won just two of their last 21 games in the world famous competition.
Since Noel Hunt's dramatic late winner at Charlton in November 2014, the Blues' record on TV reads: P33 W3 D10 L20.
Memories of the last time Ipswich were on terrestrial television - January 2017 - still brings supporters out in a cold sweat.
In front of a prime time BBC One audience, Mick McCarthy's men took on Lincoln City in what was then a Championship versus National League clash. A team including the likes of Paul Digby, Jonathan Douglas and Leon Best were left humiliated as Nathan Arnold ran through to clinch a 1-0 win for the hosts at the death. Town legend Terry Butcher, on punditry duty that night, raged to the nation.
Barrow's home of Holker Street - currently known as The Dunes Hotel Stadium - has a capacity of 5,400, though their average attendance is around 2,800.
Ipswich were given an allocation of 662 tickets for this game and, 'as a way of thanking fans for their ongoing support', the club has covered the cost of two supporters' coaches.
Barrow AFC were promoted back to the Football League, following a 48-year absence, in 2000 after winning the National League. Manager Ian Evatt promptly left to join Bolton.
The Bluebirds went through two managers (David Dunn and Michael Jolley) and two caretaker managers last season, finishing five points above the drop zone. Former Swindon, Notts County and Forest Green boss Mark Cooper took over in the summer.
Currently 19th in League Two, it looks like it's going to be another relegation scrap for the Cumbrian club. Last weekend's 2-0 home victory against Swindon ended a nine-game winless streak in the league. Both goals came from the penalty spot.
Tonight, very possibly, could be the last game of John McGreal's role as 'interim manager'. It'll be interesting to see what sort of team he picks.
On Saturday, Town have their big League One home game against Sunderland, for a which a crowd of more than 28,000 will be in attendance. Go strong tonight in an attempt to maximise the chances of victory and boost the mood? Or rest a few tired legs and minds, after an eventful few days, to ensure everyone is raring to go come the weekend?
Will it be 4-4-2 again following last weekend's battling 1-1 draw at Wigan? If so, does James Norwood get a start after he stepped off the bench to score?
Vaclav Hladky, Matt Penney, Scott Fraser, Idris El Mizouni, Tom Carroll and Sone Aluko were also among the subs at the DW Stadium. Toto Nsiala, Kayden Jackson and Cameron Humphreys may come into the reckoning too.