‘Don’t get caught up by the occasion’, Alex Mathie warns Ipswich Town stars

Alex Mathie celebrates his first goal of a hat-trick against Norwich in the famous 5-0 win back in 1

Alex Mathie celebrates his first goal of a hat-trick against Norwich in the famous 5-0 win back in 1998. - Credit: Archant

Derby day hat-trick hero Alex Mathie has warned Ipswich Town’s promotion hopefuls not to get caught up by the occasion at Carrow Road today.

The Blues head to Norfolk drawing 1-1 with Norwich City after last Saturday’s Championship Play-Off semi-final first leg at Portman Road ended level.

Mathie hit a first-half hat-trick in Town’s stunning 5-0 victory over the Canaries in February 1998, and is still revered by Blues supporters 17 years on.

The Scot, who also played in the Premier League with Newcastle, hopes today breeds a new Blues hero but says Ipswich must not treat the occasion any different to any other game this season.

“My main message would be to not let the game get the better of them on the pitch,” said Mathie, who scored 47 goals in 134 games in over three-and-a-half years at Ipswich.

“Mick has got players with a lot of play-off experience and I would hope they go and play their normal game. When you start trying to do things that you are not used to, that’s when your ability goes away.

“One of my first games for Ipswich was at Carrow Road and it passed me by, I let the occasion get to me.

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“We lost 2-1 and I came off the pitch feeling like I had not contributed.

“I tried too hard and it wasn’t down to a lack of effort, but I was making runs I didn’t normally make and doint things that I didn’t usually do.

“I felt deflated and flat and didn’t really show what I could do, it was a horrible feeling. I felt as though I had not contributed.”

Mathie watched last week as Paul Anderson cancelled out Jonny Howson’s opener for Norwich to leave the tie on a knife-edge.

He believes today’s game could be equally as tight but thinks Town may just squeeze through, with penalties a likely scenario.

“It’s going to be a tough match and very close as you would expect in a derby,” added Mathie.

“But I get the feeling that Ipswich are going to do it, possibly on penalties.

“I think it will be that tight and the midfield battle will be key.”

Intergral to that showdown in the engine-room will be Ipswich’s Cole Skuse, who won Mick McCarthy’s player of the year award.

“Cole Skuse was fantastic in the first game (against Norwich) and he has done that in the last quarter of the season.

“If he can keep doing what he does best, that will allow the likes of (Teddy) Bishop to drive forward at the Norwich defence.”

Skuse will have to perform under extreme pressure and provocation, the atmosphere at Carrow Road expected to be just as hostile as it was in Suffolk last weekend.

Mathie said: “They are right in your face at Norwich, especially the away fans. It’s up close and personal and it’s a great feeling when you are winning there.

“It’s not so good when you are struggling and getting beaten.”