Can Town enjoy a lengthy FA Cup run?

IS THIS the season - 30 years after Ipswich Town won the FA Cup - when the Blues will enjoy another lengthy run in football's most glamorous competition?Jim Magilton's Coca-Cola Championship side take on Premier League away specialists Portsmouth at fortress Portman Road in one of the more interesting match-ups of the third round.

By Elvin King

IS THIS the season - 30 years after Ipswich Town won the FA Cup - when the Blues will enjoy another lengthy run in football's most glamorous competition?

Jim Magilton's Coca-Cola Championship side take on Premier League away specialists Portsmouth at fortress Portman Road in one of the more interesting match-ups of the third round.

It should be a treat for spectators with Ipswich's home form the best in the Championship and Pompey's away record the best in the top flight.

Harry Redknapp's team will present Ipswich with their stiffest test at Portman Road since their unbeaten home run began last March.

The Tractor Boys saw off Championship leaders West Brom with some style on Tuesday and a continuation of that form will give Pompey a severe examination of their prowess that has seen them win eight of their last nine away games.

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However, tradition is against Town as the last time they beat a team from the top flight in the FA Cup was 12 seasons ago.

This was when a Paul Mason goal saw George Burley's side beat Blackburn Rovers - Alan Shearer and all - in a 1995/96 third round replay at Ewood Park.

Since then, Ipswich have faced Premier League opposition on eight occasions - and lost every time scoring just two goals.

They lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa (fifth round) in 1995/96, 3-0 at Nottingham Forest (third round) the following campaign, 1-0 at Everton (fourth round) in 1998/99, 1-0 at home to Southampton (third round) in 1999/00, 1-0 away to Sunderland (fourth round) the following year, 3-1 at home to Bolton (third round) in 2004/05, 1-0 at home to Pompey (third round) in 2005/06 and 1-0 at Watford (fifth round) last season.

Town fans have not had much FA Cup cheer in recent years with the fifth round reached for the first time since 1996 when Ipswich lost at Watford 11 months ago.

Tomorrow's match is being shown live on television in Scandanavia and the USA, and will feature on BBC's Match of the Day tomorrow night.