Class of 2000 comparison, a Royle flush in reach and a curse to break – A look at Town’s unbeaten start
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town went into this weekend’s international break off the back of a six-game unbeaten start to the League One season. STUART WATSON looks at records to chase, potential omens and a curse to lift.
A RARE RUN
Yes, it's the third-tier of English football. Yes, a big victory at crisis club Bolton was a virtual gimme. And yes, the latest win was against Tottenham's U21s in the much-maligned EFL Trophy.
These sort of win streaks don't happen very often though.
The Blues have played almost a thousand matches since the turn of the century (983 competitive games) and this is only the 10th time that they have won four consecutive matches in a row from a standing start.
On three of those occasions they added a fifth straight win. Never did they go on to make it six.
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The last time Ipswich Town made a six-game unbeaten start to a league campaign was... 1999/00.
Paul Lambert's men have won four and drawn two. Back then, George Burley's boys won four and drew two.
The comparisons don't end there.
James Norwood has scored five, Kayden Jackson has scored four. At this stage of the campaign in 1999, David Johnson had scored five and James Scowcroft had scored four.
Luke Garbutt has chipped in with two so far. Back then, another left-sided specialist, Jamie Clapham, had netted three times early on.
The Class of 2000 did lose their seventh league game, 1-0 at home to Birmingham, but did, of course, go on to claim promotion via the play-offs.
RECORDS TO CHASE
First, let's start with the big numbers.
Ipswich Town's record number of consecutive wins (9) and longest unbeaten streak (20), unsurprisingly, came during the halcyon days of Sir Bobby Robson's management. Those runs were in 81/82 and 80/81 respectively.
For those daring to dream of new history, Town's next five games are Doncaster (h), MK Dons (a), Gillingham (a), Tranmere (h) and Fleetwood (a).
To reach 20 games undefeated the Blues would have to get into December, and past the FA Cup first round stage, with their noses still unbloodied.
Realistically, the above is unlikely. So here are some more modern runs that the Blues can aim to match/beat.
The last time Town won five consecutive games was in August 2017 as Mick McCarthy's men started the season with victories against Birmingham, Luton, Barnsley, Millwall and Brentford.
The last time Town won five league games in a row was back in October 2003 - that run included a 6-1 home trouncing of Burnley and a 4-3 win at Palace that was sealed by Shefki Kuqi's dramatic last goal.
The last time Town went more than four games unbeaten in the league was February/March 2017. In that eight-game run there was only one win (1-0 at Aston Villa, Emyr Huws scoring late) and seven draws (five of them finishing 1-1).
The most profitable unbeaten streaks of recent times came in 2014/15. McCarthy's men went eight unbeaten August-September (W4 D4) and 12 unbeaten November-January (W8 D4) on their way to securing a play-off place.
'GOD TO DOG'
As mentioned, Town did get off to a flying start in 2017.
Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn and David McGoldrick were firing, Jordan Spence bagged a morale-boosting late winner at Millwall, while Sunderland were put to the sword (5-2) at Portman Road in September.
All in the garden seemed rosy. Less than seven months later came McCarthy's dramatic desk-banging exit following a speedy demise in his relationship with supporters. As the Yorkshireman often reminded us, you can go from God to dog very quickly in this game.
A CURSE TO BREAK
By the time Town face Doncaster on Suffolk soil there will have been a 10-day break. That's because Lambert elected to postpone yesterday's scheduled game at Rochdale due to international call-ups.
To say Ipswich haven't been very good post international breaks in recent years would be an understatement.
Not since a 2-0 home win against Millwall in 2014 have they claimed three points off the back of one. Since that day they've played 19 games after a free weekend, drawing nine and losing 10.
Over the last 10 seasons the club's record following international breaks reads: P35 W4 D13 L18.