Derby County v Ipswich Town - Match preview
Ipswich Town head to Derby County tonight hoping that history repeats itself.
The Blues’ last away win in the Championship came at the i-Pro Stadium, on the final day of fixtures last season.
Victory would soften the blow of Friday night’s controversial last-minute defeat at Reading and pile the pressure on home boss Nigel Pearson – his side were booed off on Saturday, following a 2-0 home defeat to pre-season title favourites, Newcastle United.
It’s fair to say Mick McCarthy and Nigel Pearson haven’t had the best few days.
McCarthy was given the entire weekend to stew over referee Jeremy Simpson’s decision to award Reading a last-gasp penalty on Friday night, and was still irked by the decision in yesterday’s press conference, having been in ‘a murderous rage’ all weekend.
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As for Pearson, a 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle shouldn’t be seen as the end of the world, but his side’s inauspicious start to the season has mustered just one victory and one goal.
Town boss McCarthy had his players in on Sunday morning to blow the cobwebs off their defeat in Berkshire, while Pearson was left to survey the damage from another defeat, following their shock 1-0 reverse at Burton Albion, prior to the international break.
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Pearson’s woes have been heightened with the news that Johnny Russell, such an influential performer in recent times, will miss the game with a calf problem, while summer signing Ikechi Anya (cramp) and Richard Keogh (ankle) are both doubts.
Their main problem has been scoring goals, which begs the question as to why Pearson allowed prolific Championship hitman Chris Martin to join Fulham, during the recent summer transfer window.
Former Town man Darren Bent, is waiting patiently in the wings but can’t get a game at the moment, with new-look strike pairing, Matej Vydra and James Wilson getting the nod in attack.
The pressure will be on them to produce the goods, in Martin’s absence, but the longer the Rams go without a positive performance, the harder it will become.
Town could be in a far better position than they are now, had they not been the victims of dodgy decisions from officials against Norwich, Wolves and Reading, but the last thing McCarthy wants is for his team to feel sorry for themselves.
“I had them (players) in on Sunday morning and I said ‘Look, whatever we think, we have been mugged out of it (Reading game)’,” said McCarthy.
“Maybe we gave the referee the opportunity to give the penalty because we had our hands on people, but it’s got to be down to us to get over whatever that is and go up to Derby and play well.
“I would imagine (Derby manager) Nigel (Pearson) would be saying the same and they have got enough quality to be in the top-six by the end of the season.”
The Rams have won once in just nine regular league games – a run stretching back to last season and McCarthy added: “Transition is a word that gets used when a new manager comes in and I think Nigel (Pearson) has been someone that has played 4-4-2 and has had some really good teams, certainly with Leicester.
“Derby have been playing 4-3-3, they have sold Chris Martin who was their focal point, and (Matej) Vydra and James Wilson have come in and they are different types (of players).
“They are maybe playing a different way, but they have had two defeats (in a row), there is a lot of pressure on them.
“They spent £25m last year and missed out in the play-offs, and I do think missing out can have an adverse effect.”
McCarthy will use all his nous to try and frustrate the hosts tonight, knowing the home crowd is likely to turn if things don’t go their way early on.
“Of course we will be trying that,” admitted McCarthy.
“That goes without saying. Try and keep it tight, try and get a goal, try and have a really fast start.
“If we do that, no doubt the crowd will turn, but that’s the case everywhere.
“There are 92 clubs in the league and if you have just lost two and you have a home game and you don’t start well and the opposition score against you, every single club, all the fans are going to turn on the team.
“And it is expected really, they want to see their team win, I get that and I have no problem with that.”
Johnny Russell (calf) misses tonight’s clash, while defender Richard Keogh (ankle) and winger Ikechi Anya (cramp) are injury doubts.
Alex Pearce is likely to replace Keogh, should the Republic of Ireland defender miss out, while the likes of Nick Blackman, Danny Butterfield and Tom Ince could be options to replace Russell and Anya.
Manager Mick McCarthy has no new injury worries and could stick with the side that started against Reading in Friday night’s defeat.
Leon Best, Teddy Bishop, Conor Grant and Tom Lawrence are amongst those that may have to be content with a place on the bench again.