Ipswich Town v Fulham match preview: Cottagers seemingly suffering from a play-off hangover

Tom Cairney holds his head after Fulham's play-off semi-final defeat to Reading back in May. Photo:

Tom Cairney holds his head after Fulham's play-off semi-final defeat to Reading back in May. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town could make history when they host Fulham in a Championship match at Portman Road tomorrow. STUART WATSON previews the game.

Martyn Waghorn has scored four goals already for Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller

Martyn Waghorn has scored four goals already for Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

History in the making

Ipswich Town are looking to win their opening five league games for the first time ever in their 81 year professional history.

This is only the fourth time the Blues have won their opening four league games, having previously done so in 1936/37 (Southern League champions), 1953/54 (Division Three South champions) and 1974/75 (third in the top-flight).

There’s a chance to leapfrog Cardiff (home to QPR) and go into the international break top of the Championship.

Jonas Knudsen will once again line-up in the heart of a makeshift Ipswich Town defence. Picture: STE

Jonas Knudsen will once again line-up in the heart of a makeshift Ipswich Town defence. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Opposition focus

Fulham were by far and away the best team Town face last season. Their midfield trio of Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen and Kevin McDonald passed the Blues off the park when winning 2-0 at Portman Road on Boxing Day, while marauding full-backs Scott Malone (sold to Huddersfield in the summer) and Ryan Fredericks did the damage in the 3-1 victory over the Blues at Craven Cottage in April.

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Slavisa Jokanovic’s men were heavily tipped to win the play-offs after finishing sixth, but lost to Reading in the semis and now appear to suffering from a bit of a hangover.

They are yet to register a league win following draws against Norwich, Reading and Leeds, as well as last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, though that was always a tough start on paper.

Boss Slavisa Jokanovic changed his entire team for Carabao Cup action on Tuesday night and they duly suffered a 1-0 home defeat to League One side Bristol Rovers after extra-time.

Goals

Clinical Town are the division’s top-scorers with nine and new strikers Joe Garner (3) and Martyn Waghorn (4) have netted seven of those between them.

Fulham, meanwhile, have scored just twice in the league and drawn blanks in their last three outings across all competitions. They look to be missing striker Chris Martin, now back at parent club Derby, with new Portuguese No.9 Rui Fonte – a £9m signing from Braga – still finding his feet.

Defence

It will once again be a back four made up entirely of full-backs for Town. Dominic Iorfa, Jordan Spence, Jonas Knudsen and Myles Kenlock coped well in last weekend’s 2-0 home win over a mobile Brentford side.

Fulham are in the same mould as the Bees. Town are likely to be second best in the possession stats once again, but look to catch their hosts on the break.