Lessons learnt, coping without and finding a blend - Town head to Doncaster

Town players celebrate with a hidden Lee Evans after his hat-trick in the Ipswich Town v Doncaster Rovers match

Ipswich Town beat Doncaster 6-0 the last time the two sides met - Credit: StephenWaller.com

Ipswich Town take on Doncaster Rovers this evening. Andy Warren looks ahead to the Blues' clash with the League One basement boys.

Keep pounding 

Ipswich Town have taken 15 points from a possible 21 in their seven matches under new boss Kieran McKenna. 

By contrast, the final seven league games before he took control of the side yielded just six. That’s a sign of real progress. 

But it’s also a sign of the supreme consistency Town will need to maintain between now and the end of the season, if they’re to make the play-offs. The good start under the Northern Irishman has cut the gap to the top six by only two points, from 10 going into his first game to eight now. 

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna applauds fans after the game.

Kieran McKenna has won five of his seven games as Ipswich boss - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Keep up their record under McKenna during the final 16 matches of the league programme, though, and Town would end with 78 points. That would, barring an extreme case of bad luck, see Town make the play-offs. On average, a total of 73 points has been enough over the last decade - though it's likely to be a higher number this time around.

Doncaster is the next hurdle that needs to be cleared, but there are greater tests ahead. Promotion challengers Rotherham, Wigan, MK Dons, Oxford and Plymouth all need to be played again, as do frisky mid-tablers, Charlton, Burton, Portsmouth and Cambridge. 

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That’s why victories in games like tonight are so important. 

Lesson learnt 

Town know from very recent experience that teams in the League One relegation zone won’t roll over. Even if they’ve already been heavily beaten once this season. 

Ipswich slapped Gillingham 4-0 in McKenna’s second game in charge, but Saturday’s contest at Portman Road couldn’t have been any more different. It took a Conor Chaplin goal, which came from absolutely nowhere, to beat a team now managed by Neil Harris after Steve Evans’ sacking. 

Conor Chaplin celebrates with teammates after scoring to give Town a 1-0 lead.

Conor Chaplin scored Ipswich's winner against Gillingham on Saturday - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Doncaster were smacked for six at the end of September, with Lee Evans scoring a hat-trick. They were bottom of the table then and remain there now, with Gary McSheffrey in charge following Richie Wellens’ exit earlier in the campaign. 

But, just as Gillingham came into Saturday’s game with a win from their previous match, Doncaster face Town hot on the heels of a hugely impressive 2-1 victory away at League One big dogs Sunderland. They’ve won away at MK Dons in 2022, as well. 

They’ve lost their last five at home, conceding 14 goals in the process, but Ipswich may just need to sneak home in a tight game once again in this one. 

Sam Morsy sits alone in the dugout at AFC Wimbledon, he has now been suspended for four games after

Ipswich Town need to cope without Sam Morsy for one more game - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

One more game 

Town need to get through one more match without skipper Sam Morsy. 

McKenna’s men have won two and lost one of the three games they’ve played since their captain was retrospectively banned, following an incident in the victory over Accrington Stanley. 

Nine points from 12 would be a good return from his four-game absence, should Town manage victory tonight. But they’ve certainly missed him. 

Idris El Mizouni and Tyreeq Bakinson were paired for the 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday, before Evans and Tom Carroll took up the midfield mantle during Saturday’s win over Gillingham. Both pairings missed the central thrust Morsy has been able to bring to this team since McKenna took over. Neither blend was right. 

The Town boss will have those four players available to him again this evening. It will be interesting to see which two he opts to go with. 

Macauley Bonne applauds fans after the game.

Will Macauley Bonne return to the Ipswich Town side tonight? - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Mix and match 

A back four of goalkeeper Christian Walton and central defenders Janoi Donacien, Luke Woolfenden and George Edmundson have started every game so far in 2022. They surely will do again tonight. 

We’ve talked about the centre of midfield, but there is a discussion to be had about each of the other five positions in McKenna’s Ipswich side. 

Wes Burns’ availability isn’t clear, after he limped out of Saturday’s victory after half-time. Kyle Edwards replaced him against Gillingham and could do so again, should the Welshman not make it. 

Kane Vincent-Young could be another option at right wing-back, having last played for Town on a left-side now filled by Dominic Thompson. The latter of those two will likely start again, but Matt Penney will be hoping to have a say there. 

Then there’s the front three. Joe Pigott and James Norwood both had frustrating afternoons against the Gills, while Conor Chaplin wasn’t at his best before ultimately coming up with the big moment which secured the three points. 

McKenna has options here. Top scorer Macauley Bonne came off the bench and brought an element of control to the game, once Town had gone ahead. There’s every chance he returns to the side. 

Bersant Celina was an unused substitute while Sone Aluko didn’t even make the bench despite being fit. 

We’ve seen McKenna change his entire front three from game-to-game. Don’t rule it out this time. 

Lee Evans celebrates scoring Towns fifth to complete his hat-trick in the Ipswich Town v Doncaster R

Lee Evans scored three goals when Town beat Doncaster 6-0 earlier in the season - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Big following 

Ipswich Town have been phenomenally well-supported this season. Both home and away. 

The Blues are averaging crowds of more than 1,700 in away ends around the country this season, with that number set to be inflated by an outrageous visiting contingent of more than 7,000 at MK Dons on Saturday. 

But to take around 1,000 fans to a game in South Yorkshire on a Tuesday night, as they are this evening, is arguably just as impressive. 

Two away wins to reward those traveling supporters would do just the trick.