A day of chances, farewells and an awards chase in Town's final fling
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town finish their League One season against Charlton at Portman Road. Andy Warren looks ahead to the game.
Here we are, then. Game 46 of the League One season.
This game was supposed to be the day Ipswich lifted the League One trophy in front of their supporters, or at the very least booked their place in the play-offs ahead of a post-season promotion run.
But instead it’s a game where the Blues can finish 10th at best, if they are able to secure victory and Bolton lose at home to Fleetwood. That’s the sad reality of things.
It’s the same for Charlton, who themselves entered the season with promotion hopes under Nigel Adkins but can finish no higher than their current position of 12th under Johnnie Jackson.
That’s the backdrop for today’s game.
- 1 Striking new seafront café opens its doors to customers after two-year wait
- 2 Four-bedroom cottage on Dunwich clifftops for sale for £295k
- 3 Suffolk town named one of the best places to go on holiday in the UK
- 4 'It riles me to the core' - Anger as sofas dumped near Suffolk beauty spot
- 5 A14 lane closure in Bury St Edmunds after two-car crash
- 6 Dog walker in his 70s suffers cuts and bruises after attack in west Suffolk
- 7 'The children were buzzing' - Ed Sheeran sends video to Suffolk school
- 8 Thunderstorm warning issued for East of England
- 9 Travel: Stay on the UK's first floating glamping pod...in Beccles
- 10 Suffolk market town will lose its Post Office in June
But despite all of that, a crowd in the region of 25,000 is expected at Portman Road this afternoon, in what is another reminder of just how strong Ipswich Town is as a club right now.
All that’s missing is a promotion-contending team on the pitch. That’s what Mark Ashton, new recruitment chief Sam Williams and manager Kieran McKenna will be looking to sort over the summer.
Town go into a game without a win in their last five games, so a nice victory in front of a big crowd will be the perfect way to send everyone off into the summer full of positivity.
Ipswich didn’t get to where they wanted this season. Next season must be better.
Imagine the scenes if it is.
Take a chance on me
Could today be the day McKenna gives his young players a chance on the big stage?
Elkan Baggott was called upon at Rotherham and did himself no harm at all, with a knock suffered by Cameron Burgess potentially opening the door for a start. McKenna has also discussed using Kane Vincent-Young as a central defender, should Burgess miss out.
Cameron Humphreys was part of the Town Under 18s side which beat Coventry 7-0 in their League Cup final at Portman Road on Wednesday night and was not involved as the Under 23s played at Peterborough yesterday.
That points to involvement with the first-team today, either from the start or from the bench.
Sadly for Tawanda Chirewa, who made Town's bench at Crewe and has been in excellent goal-scoring form this season, he won't be involved due to a bout of tonsillitis.
With a big crowd expected, McKenna could learn much about his youngsters if they are able to get on the pitch.
Final days mean the potential for farewell appearances.
And there are a few Ipswich players falling into this bracket.
Of those with expiring contracts, both James Norwood and Tom Carroll look likely be representing Ipswich Town for the last time this weekend. The former has issued a statement online, saying his goodbyes, with Carroll looking nailed on to depart.
Then there are the loanees. Dominic Thompson and Tyreeq Bakinson both joined in January and have been important parts of McKenna’s team during the second half of the campaign. Both could return to their parent clubs, though Town do have the option to make Bakinson’s deal permanent.
Then there are two loan players Ipswich fans have taken to their hearts.
Bersant Celina has been a popular figure during his two Ipswich loan seasons but, if the Blues don’t work on a full-time deal or a loan return this summer, this could be his final appearance in a Town shirt.
Macauley Bonne’s start to life in Ipswich blue was nothing short of spectacular. With the Chantry boy, who grew up as an Ipswich fan and was released from the academy at 14, was an instant hit as he seemed to carry his team through a difficult August and September.
In many ways it was ‘Bonne Mania’ through much of that time. He has his picture on the side of the stadium thanks to his sneaky exploits against Sheffield Wednesday. He was being hailed as the greatest Town loanee ever and big January transfer fees were being discussed among fans.
But the goals have dried up and he’s lost his place in the team. It’s so disappointing that the fairytale hasn’t endured.
Today could be his final Ipswich appearance if he’s selected to face his former club. It remains to be seen if Ipswich make a move to bring him back for next season.
It could be an emotional one.
Ipswich Town have already said farewell to Scott Fraser who, following his summer arrival, departed for Charlton in January.
It just didn't work for the Scott at Portman Road.
But there will be no reunion this afternoon. He's injured.
Town may have little to play for on the pitch at this point in the season, but three men will have a trophy in their sights.
The Blues’ top scorer award is still up for grabs as we reach the final day of the season, with Bonne, Wes Burns and Conor Chaplin all in contention.
Bonne’s topped the pile all season but, with just one goal in his last 29 games, is only on 12. A tally like that was unthinkable back in November, when his record stood at 11 goals in just 16 appearances.
Burns has scored regularly throughout the campaign and his worked his way to 11, as he looks to add Town’s golden boot to his clutch of individual awards. A late decision will be made on his fitness.
Chaplin’s netted in Town’s last two games to move himself onto 11, too, with all three players looking to add to their tallies this afternoon.
Who will come out on top?
There may be little riding on this afternoon’s game at Portman Road, but there is plenty going on across League One.
Wigan will win promotion with a point at Shrewsbury and the title if they can secure three, while Rotherham can secure their Championship place if they win at Gillingham. MK Dons will be hoping to take advantage if they slip up, with Liam Manning’s side at Plymouth.
Argyle, though, need a win to secure a play-off spot, while Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland control their own destinies when they face Portsmouth and Morecambe respectively.
Wycombe are on the outside looking in as they travel to Burton, where they can crash the party if others above them slip up, while they can jump Plymouth even if Argyle win, as long as there’s a swing in goal difference. The two sides start the day level on 80 points, with Plymouth two goals better off.
At the bottom, Crewe are already down and Doncaster will join them unless there is an outrageous swing in goal difference. It’s not going to happen.
AFC Wimbledon must beat Accrington and hope both Gillingham and Fleetwood lose in order to have any chance of survival, but it’s the latter two teams there who have a real fight to stay up.
The two start the day level on points but with Fleetwood above water by 14 goals.
Fleetwood are at Bolton while Gillingham host Rotherham.
It’s going to be a rollercoaster day in League One. Just not at Portman Road, sadly.