Hurst’s start, mega mileage and derby days – talking points from Ipswich Town 2018/19 schedule
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Ipswich Town have this morning discovered their Championship fixtures for 2018/19. Here are a few key dates.
It’s certainly an interesting start to life at Ipswich Town for Paul Hurst, with sub-plots galore.
The new Blues boss has been handed opening games against two sides he faced in League One last season.
Town begin with the visit of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, August 4. It means that former Blues favourites Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus, who were strongly linked to the Town job in the wake of Mick McCarthy’s departure, will be starting the season in the Portman Road dug-out after all.
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Then comes a trip to Rotherham – the team who recently beat Hurst’s Shrewsbury in extra-time of the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley.
After that is the Carabao Cup first round trip to Exeter City (who recently lost in the League Two Play-Off Final) and the visit of Aston Villa (who recently lost in the Championship Play-Off Final).
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August concludes with trips to beaten play-off semi-finalists Derby County (new boss Frank Lampard having been interviewed for the Town job) and Sheffield Wednesday (the club Hurst grew up supporting).
We don’t have to wait long for the first East Anglian derby of the season.
Norwich City are due to travel to Portman Road on Saturday, September 1, with the reverse match at Carrow Road scheduled for Saturday, February 9.
There’s a good chance both those games could be switched to Sunday due to television.
As if you need reminding, Town have not beaten their cross-border rivals in 10 matches stretching back to 2009.
There is a sense that the tide may be turning, however, after the Blues (12th) finished above the Canaries (14th) last season.
Town fans are looking towards the new campaign with optimism following the appointment of manager Paul Hurst, while the Norwich have been forced to sell star men James Maddison and Josh Murphy now their parachute payments have run out.
After successive home games on Boxing Day (Derby in 2015, Fulham in 2016 and QPR in 2017), the Blues are back on the road post Christmas with a trip to West London to face Steve McClaren’s QPR at Loftus Road (a Wednesday).
There’s a long trip to Middlesbrough three days’ later (Sat, Dec 29) followed by a New Year’s Day home game against Millwall (a Monday).
When it comes to Easter, it’s a long trip to Lancashire to face Preston North End on Good Friday (April 19) followed by the visit of Swansea City on Easter Monday (April 22).
Town will be doing an extra 330 miles on the road this year.
Cardiff have been replaced by fellow south Wales side Swansea. And while Sunderland may be gone, there are now trips to north west duo Blackburn and Wigan.
Taking into account the early season trip to Exeter in the Carabao Cup, the total mileage is set to be 8,640.
Town’s longest journeys: Swansea (557), Exeter (528), Preston (510), Middlesbrough (504), Blackburn (503), Bolton (491), Wigan (473).
There are eight midweek league trips in there as it stands.
In addition to that early Carabao Cup game at Exeter, Town have Tuesday/Wednesday night trips to Derby (Aug 21), Leeds (Oct 24), Bristol City (Mar 12) and Brentford (Apr 10).
Regarding the teams who have to travel to Suffolk in midweek, it’s Brentford (Sept 19), Middlesbrough (Oct 2), Bristol City (Nov 28) and Derby (Feb 12).
The first one is the weekend of September 8/9 – so that leaves a fortnight to dwell on the outcome of the opening East Anglian derby.
The following international break weekends are on October 13/14, November 17/18, March 23/24.