Kind start, October 'bump' and tough finish - Ipswich Town's 2021/22 fixtures
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town's fixtures for the 2021/22 League One season were revealed this morning. STUART WATSON takes a look at some key dates and talking points.
Morecambe at home. An ideal opener or potential early banana skin?
The Shrimps finished fourth in League Two last season before beating Tranmere and Newport in the play-offs.
This a club that has never played at third-tier level before and is accustomed to playing in front of crowds of little more than 2,000. An opening day trip to Portman Road will be an historic moment for them and, buoyed by the confidence that promotion brings, they're going to be bang up for it.
Mind you, their summer preparations so far haven't exactly been ideal with promotion-winning boss Derek Adams having left for Bradford. Time will tell how many fans will be allowed back inside the ground, but however many it is the atmosphere should be electric. Fingers crossed, the club's new US-based owners - Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay, Mark Detmer and Mark Steed - will all be there to add to the excitement too.
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- 4 Suffolk pub reopens with exclusive Champagne carvery
- 5 Why Ipswich Town's American owners won't be making first visit for Morecambe clash
- 6 New plans for village cafe, shop and business units divide opinion
- 7 WATCH: Ever Given docks at Felixstowe after four-month delay
- 8 The Town players who have improved their stock in pre-season
- 9 Military helicopter recovered after emergency landing in field
Ok, so football isn't played on paper, but there's no getting away from the fact that there's a golden opportunity to make hay while the August sun shines.
After Morecambe, it's Burton (a), Cheltenham (h), MK Dons (h) and AFC Wimbledon (a).
That's an opening month that includes two games against newly-promoted sides and three against teams that finished in the bottom half of League One last season.
There is a possibility that Paul Cook will still be piecing together his new-look side at this stage though.
BUCK THE TREND
For two years in a row, the wheels started to fall off for Ipswich Town after hitting a mid-to-late October bump in the road.
In 2019, the Blues suffered back-to-back defeats to Accrington (Oct 20) and Rotherham (Oct 23). In 2020, they lost to Doncaster (Oct 20) and Lincoln (Oct 24).
So who have Town got at that crucial juncture this time around? It's a Tuesday night trip to Portsmouth (Oct 19), followed by the visit of Fleetwood (Oct 23).
After that comes a tricky looking run including November fixtures against the likes of Oxford, Sunderland and Rotherham.
That's when the true test of character comes.
A Boxing Day trip to Gillingham is not far (though fans might get wet in their open air away end at Priestfield), with that game sandwiched by home clashes with Sunderland (Sat, Dec 18), Wycombe (Weds, Dec 29) and Lincoln (Sat, Jan 1).
Players get more time at home with their families and less time sitting on a coach, while the fans get plenty of festive footballing fare. Merry Christmas!
An already truncated schedule, further affected by Covid call-offs, saw Ipswich Town play 16 midweek games in the league alone last season. There were some arduous Tuesday night trips to the likes of Sunderland, Hull, Accrington, Fleetwood and Shrewsbury.
This season there will be a lot more time for Paul Cook to properly work with his players on the training field this time around.
Cheltenham is the longest midweek trip (Aug 17), with Portsmouth (Oct 19), Charlton (Dec 7) and Doncaster (Feb 8) the only other three.
Meanwhile, Town will take on Doncaster (Sept 28), Rotherham (Nov 23) and Cheltenham (Feb 22) under the Portman Road lights.
Time will tell what sort of position Ipswich Town are in come the business end of the season.
A four-game finish against Rotherham (away, Good Friday), Wigan (home, Easter Monday), Crewe (a) and Charlton (h) looks tough.
There's a good chance Rotherham and Charlton will be in the mix, while Wigan, also under new owners, may be too.
Let's be honest, trying to analyse the fixture list is a fool's errand.
Ipswich have got off to great starts several times in recent years and it's counted for nothing.
Ipswich have had 'kind' run-ins for the last two seasons and it's counted for nothing.
There's always something exciting about seeing the schedule laid out in black and white though.
Anything could happen. New starts bring fresh hope. That's why we always come back for more.