Fixtures: Town face trip to Middlesbrough first, Canaries in November
IPSWICH TOWN: It’s back!
The East Anglian derby, after a one-year sabbatical, makes a mouth-watering return next season, and the all-important dates have been released today, at least provisionally.
Ipswich Town will meet deadly rivals Norwich City at Carrow Road on November 27 and entertain Paul Lambert’s newly-promoted Canaries on April 23.
Before then Roy Keane’s men face two of their longest trips of the season in the opening week of the season, travelling to Middlesbrough on Saturday, August 7 and then facing Exeter away in the Carling Cup just a few days later.
Of course the East Anglian derby dates could be changed, by the odd day, depending on such factors as television commitments and police advice.
Norwich’s one-year absence from the Championship, caused by their relegation to League One, saw them return as champions.
But for the moment Town still have the bragging rights – Jim Magilton’s last game in charge coincided with a 3-2 win over Norwich at Portman Road, on April 19, 2009, which was the last meeting between the two sides. Alan Quinn, Giovani Dos Santos and Jon Stead were on target that day.
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Keane was brought in as a successor to Magilton for the last two games of the season, which saw Norwich disappear through the relegation trap door.
After last season’s disappointing showing, when Town could only manage a lowly 15th spot in the table during Keane’s first full campaign at the helm, the Portman Road faithful will be expecting a lot better next term.
It took Town a demoralising 15 games to record their first league win of last term - they were the last club from the top four divisions to achieve an elusive first victory.
But they will be looking to get off to a flying start next term, when they meet Gordon Strachan’s Middlesbrough at the Riverside on the opening day.
The Suffolk club have not enjoyed much success on the opening day in recent years, losing three of their last four first day clashs.
They were edged out at Coventry City (2-1) on the opening day last season, a result compounded by a long-term injury to midfielder David Norris, while the previous year they suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Preston.
The start of the 2007-08 season did yield a thumping 4-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday, thanks to three goals inside the first 25 minutes, including a brace for Alan Lee, but a year earlier and Town’s Championship programme began with a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Town drew far too many matches last season, setting a club record 20 league draws from 46 games, and they will not want a repeat of this glut of stalemates over the coming months.
Over the festive period, there are matches against Watford at home on Boxing Day and Doncaster Rovers away two days later.
Ipswich’s first home league game will be against relegated Burnley on August 14, while Town visit Portsmouth, who finished rock bottom of the Premier League last season, on September 11.
Town will end the campaign away to last season’s play-off losing semi-finalists Leicester City, by which time they will hope to be installed in the top six, if not the top two!
- Buy today’s Evening Star or tomorrow’s East Anglian Daily Times for a full list of the fixtures