Can Town back up a big win? Underestimate Fleetwood at your peril

Wes Burns celebrates at the final whistle after the 4-0 win at Portsmouth

Ipswich Town winger Wes Burns spent four years at Fleetwood Town. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town take on Fleetwood Town at Portman Road this afternoon. Stuart Watson previews the action.

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

STEP ON AGAIN

Fighting spirit, game management at key moments, a clinical edge when on top... Ipswich Town addressed some key issues in Tuesday night's impressive 4-0 win at Portsmouth.

This afternoon they have the opportunity to halt another unwanted recurring theme - the ability to always follow one step forwards with two back.

The Blues haven't won back-to-back league games since Paul Cook took charge back in March. Indeed, stringing League One victories together is something that's been managed just twice over the past 12 months.

After Town won at Lincoln last month they required a late goal to secure a 1-1 home draw against Sheffield Wednesday.

Lee Evans celebrates scoring Towns fifth to complete his hat-trick in the Ipswich Town v Doncaster R

Ipswich Town thrashed second-bottom side Doncaster 6-0 at Portman Road back in September - Lee Evans bagging a hat-trick. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Three days after they thrashed Doncaster 6-0 under the Portman Road lights, they produced a limp display in a 2-1 defeat at Accrington.

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And after Shrewsbury were seen off 2-1 on Suffolk soil, a two-goal lead was let slip at Cambridge United.

Five wins from the last eight games across all competitions shows the new-look Blues are very much moving in the right direction following a disappointing start to the campaign.

A win today would provide another timely injection of belief to a fanbase that has become all too accustomed to false dawns over recent years.

Fleetwood Town manager Simon Grayson during the Sky Bet League One match at Highbury Stadium, Fleetw

Fleetwood Town manager Simon Grayson. - Credit: PA

WON'T BE EASY

Fleetwood were tipped by many to struggle this season. And the fact they currently sit 20th, following Tuesday night's 1-0 loss at Burton, suggests that will be the case.

There's a temptation, therefore, to start looking beyond this weekend to the importance of a run of games against high-flying sides Plymouth, Wycombe, Oxford, Sunderland and Rotherham.

Today's game cannot be underestimated in any way though. 

Here's a flavour of some of Fleetwood's results this season: a 3-2 home win against Cheltenham, a 4-2 victory at Rotherham, 2-2 draws against Sunderland (h) and Cambridge (a), a 3-3 draw at MK Dons and a 3-0 home win against Crewe just last weekend.

Simon Grayson's men have scored 20 goals in 12 league games so far. The reason they are in the bottom half is because, like Ipswich, they have been leaking plenty too.

Just two defeats in their last 11 games across all competitions suggest they will offer a tougher test than the last two visitors to Portman Road - Shrewsbury and Doncaster.

Sone Aluko at Cambridge.

Sone Aluko at Cambridge. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

SELECTION HEADACHE

There were four changes to the team in midweek as Christian Walton, Toto Nsiala, Lee Evans and Kyle Edwards replaced Vaclav Hladky, Cameron Burgess, Idris El Mizouni and Scott Fraser respectively.

Cook has always insisted that he doesn't like to alter a winning side. That may well be the case today, but there might also be a temptation to freshen up one or two attacking positions for a third game in eight days given the array of options.

Bersant Celina and Wes Burns will be the two players giving him the biggest headache, the latter having made a real impact off the bench at Fratton Park.

There aren't that many doors ajar though. Conor Chaplin looks to be nailing down the No.10 position, while Sone Aluko has now scored three in two.

Wigan Athletic's Joe Garner prior to the beginning of the Sky Bet Championship match at the DW Stadi

Fleetwood striker Joe Garner is an ex-Ipswich Town striker who went on to play under Paul Cook's management at Wigan. - Credit: PA

THE TWO GARNERS

Remember Joe Garner? He's at Fleetwood now.

The 33-year-old striker joined them in the summer following a short spell in Cyprus under his former Town boss Mick McCarthy at APOEL.

Garner played under Cook at Wigan alongside the likes of Christian Walton, Sam Morsy, Lee Evans and Gary Roberts. So the current Town camp will know all his tricks of the trade.

Joe's made just five sub appearances for Fleetwood so far though. Instead, it's another Garner who is scoring the goals up top - Ged.

The 22-year-old academy graduate has bagged five so far this campaign. Grayson has other youthful strike options to play in his front two in loan duo Ryan Edmondson (Leeds) and Callum Morton (West Brom).

Janoi Donacien and Macauley Bonne after the final whistle.

Janoi Donacien (left) and Macauley Bonne celebrate the 6-0 victory over Doncaster - Credit: stephenwaller.com

REMEMBER US?

Town have two ex-Fleetwood players in their ranks.

Wes Burns spent four-and-a-bit years playing at the north west club, scoring for them at Portman Road on the final day of the 2020/21 season.

Janoi Donacien spent the second half of last season on loan there too, earning some positive reviews.

Could that duo - united by their special handshake/bow - combine down the right to undo their former employers today?

Both are in form following Donacien's two assists at Fratton Park and Burns' fine finish off the bench.

TALKING TACTICS

Speaking after Tuesday night's 1-0 loss at Burton, Grayson said: "The conditions weren’t great. If anything, we sort of got dragged into playing their way a little bit, rushing it at times and not playing like we can do.

"We have to make sure we keep to our belief of passing the ball around, because when we played through (Jay) Matete, the midfield players and out wide to the full-backs, we looked a good team.

"We know what we are capable of doing and we probably got respect from Burton tonight in that they normally play 4-2-3-1 but they played three centre backs against us to probably match us up and that shows what people think about us.

"We've just got to find different ways of winning matches sometimes. Saturday (3-0 win v Crewe) was a good game where we played good open football and created a lot of chances. Tonight we had to find a different way of winning and we didn't manage to do that."

DO IT FOR BRETT!

For the first time since Ipswich Town were taken over in April, one of the club's new American-based owners will be in attendance at a game.

Brett Johnson is the first of the 'Three Lions' to cross the Atlantic and see Portman Road in person.

He'll be sure to get a very warm welcome from everyone associated with the club. It would be nice to send him home with a win. 


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