Meet Town's opposition: In-form Fleetwood will be a tough nut to crack

A general view outside of Highbury Stadium before the Sky Bet League One match at the Highbury Stadi

Town travel to Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood tonight - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town make the long trek north to Fleetwood tonight. MIKE BACON takes a look at the Blues' opposition.

FORM TEAMS CLASH

Fleetwood may be sitting in the bottom half of the League One table, but they are one of the division's form teams.

Simon Grayson took over as manager of Fleetwood at the end of January after the club parted company with Joey Barton. He has helped guide them, not just up the table, but on a fine recent run that has seen them unbeaten in five, including wins at Lincoln and Shrewsbury. On Saturday, they drew at Blackpool.

Fleetwood Town's Callum Camps celebrates with teammates after scoring his sides second goal during t

Fleetwood Town's Callum Camps celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's second goal during the Sky Bet League One match at Lincoln, which Fleetwood won. - Credit: PA

Certainly one look at the League One table gives you a false impression of the Cod Army's recent form and this is set to be a tricky test for Paul Cook's side.

Ipswich are currently sixth in the table and fourth in the form guide (last six games) standings. Fleetwood are 14th in the live table, but a very impressive sixth in the form guide.

Ipswich have won eight games on the road so far this season, including this 1-0 success at Fleetwood

Town players celebrate Kayden Jackson's winner at Fleetwood in 2019.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU!

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Town and Fleetwood have only met twice - both in League One - the two matches last season bizarrely ending in 1-0 victories for the away team.

Kayden Jackson got Town's winner in the north-west in October 2019, before Ched Evans came off the bench to do the same at Portman Road five months later. Even this season so far, the two teams have yet to meet.

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Then again, their paths were always unlikely to cross unless Town slipped down the pyramid and Fleetwood rose up it. Which of course, is just what has happened.

Ched Evans wheels away after scoring to give Fleetwood a 1-0 first half lead. Picture Steve Waller

Ched Evans wheels away having won the game for Fleetwood at Portman Road last season. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

In 2010 Fleetwood won promotion to the old Football Conference (now National League). And after consolidating for one season, the year after and thanks to a 29-game unbeaten run, they won promotion to the Football League for the first time.

Their top striker during this period was a certain Jamie Vardy. Having helped Fleetwood into the Football League, the then non-league marksman moved to Leicester for what is still a non-league record £1.7m transfer fee in 2012. Money well spent by the Foxes.

Fleetwood Town's Jamie Vardy scores during the FA Cup, Third Round match at Highbury Stadium, Fleetw

Fleetwood Town's Jamie Vardy scores at Highbury Stadium, for the Cod Army. Vardy signed for Leicester for £1m, which rose to £1.7m in 2012. - Credit: PA

Ipswich were in the Championship at this time, as the Cod Army made their way into League football. Now they are on the same terms.

MEET THE GAFFER - SIMON GRAYSON

Fleetwood boss Simon Grayson was a right back as a player, in a near 20-year career that saw him begin at Leeds, before playing in the Premier League for Leicester, Villa and Blackburn.

Fleetwood Town's manager Simon Grayson during the Sky Bet League One match at the LNER Stadium, Linc

Fleetwood boss, Simon Grayson - Credit: PA

As a manager, he started out at Fleewood's neighbours, Blackpool, before managing Leeds United for four seasons where he had much success. The Elland Road club were in League One when he took over in 2008 and he guided them into the Championship two seasons later.

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However, he couldn't get them into the Premiership and although he had a win ratio of almost 50% while boss at Leeds, he was dismissed in February 2012.

A move to Preston saw him guide the Lilywhites into the Championship, but interest from Sunderland saw him join them in 2017. That never worked out and after short spells at Bradford and Blackpool, again, he finds himself at Fleetwood. And Grayson is feeling confident as Town come calling tonight.

Paul Cook took Ipswich Town training for the first time on Thursday

Paul Cook. His opposite number Simon Grayson expects him to make it tough for Fleetwood tonight - Credit: ITFC

He said: "Paul Cook has gone in at Ipswich and I expect him to make it a really tough game for us, but as I have said in the past few weeks people will be looking at us thinking we’re on a good run and that we have some good players so if we prepare properly we can do enough to win the game.”

GOALFEST? NOT SURE!

Both Fleetwood and Ipswich Town have two of the most goal-shy forward lines in League One.

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Hull (61 goals), Peterborough and Lincoln (53), MK Dons (50), even second bottom Swindon (41), have found the net with more regularity so far this campaign than Town (38) and Fleetwood (39). In saying that, both Town and Fleetwood have pretty mean defences t'boot.

So, if you are expecting a goal fest, don't bet your house on it! Famous last words... I'll go for a 4-4 draw!

DID YOU KNOW?

Fleetwood is the only town in Britain with trams running the full length of its main street, sharing road-space with cars.
 

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