Mike Bacon: 'We have the most tame of run-ins, but there's just one problem'

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook on the touchline during the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road,

Paul Cook. Might need something stronger than a brew to get Town over the line this season - Credit: PA

Eleven games, eleven cup finals and far from the toughest run-in the Blues could have. The play-offs beckon.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, at the moment it appears almost anything! After the mini excitement of successive wins over Hull, Doncaster and Accrington, it's been back to type for Town in recent times - none more so than losing that lead at Pompey.

Gwion Edwards covers his face in disbelief at the officials decision leading to the Portsmouth winne

A picture paints a thousand words - this at Portsmouth on Saturday - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Now it's the run-in to the finishing line, and for Paul Cook's team a set of fixtures that, quite frankly, couldn't be more tame.

Town's run-in includes having to play all the current bottom six (before tonight's games) - Wimbledon even twice. Realistically, only Charlton are seriously pushing for promotion from the 10 teams we have left to play.

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If Cook hasn't managed to squeeze a play-off place out of those fixtures and this squad of players come May, then there is little doubt we will be seeing big player movement in the summer.

Charlton Athletic's Ben Watson (left) and Ipswich Town's Kayden Jackson battle for the ball during t

Charlton Athletic's Ben Watson (left) and Ipswich Town's Kayden Jackson battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road. Town are going to have to fight hard in the final run-in - Credit: PA

Of course, the only thing that many of us could be overlooking is the fact that, while we are playing teams in the bottom half, we are also playing teams who will be scrapping for their lives. And there-in could lie a problem.

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Because let's be honest, we don't 'scrap' very well these days, in a League where 'scrapping' probably accounts for 60% of your points!

Joe Garner was sidelined owards the end of last season due to head and shoulder injuries. Photo: Ste

Joe Garner, loved the physical side of the game. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The more recent days of 'up and at them' players like Christophe Berra, Tommy Smith, Jonas Knudsen, Daryl Murphy, 'every point's a prisoner' boss McCarthy, and the wonderfully feisty Joe Garner (all those players could play as well of course), seem a lifetime away. 

Today, apart from Norwood, Chambers, Nsiala and when fit, Downes, 'scrapping' is not really our bag.

In fact, we must be the most inoffensive team with so many red cards to our name, in European football!

Don't get me wrong, I prefer classy, play it on the ground football, to hoof-ball, like most of us. But we're not in that type of division. We are the 'pass masters' of showing that style will only get you so far in League One.

Teddy Bishop walks back to the changing rooms after being shown a red card at Crewe Alexandra. Pictu

Teddy Bishop sees red at Crewe. Town are hardly an aggressive side! - Credit: Pagepix Limited

So, while we can jump up and down and tell anyone who wants to listen that we want to 'play from the back' and 'keep it on the ground', play 'the Ipswich way' (whatever that is), that's all fine! So, long as we win games - which we're not!

For the run-in, the scrap is on!

The play-offs are still there for the taking but saying, 'we've got a decent run-in', isn't going to put points on the board.

A general view of cardboard cut-out of fans in the stands including Boris Johnson before the Sky Bet

For now, perhaps cardboard cut-outs are for the best at Portman Road - or are they? - Credit: PA

I'm not sure whether fans being back at Portman Road at this precise moment would be a good or bad thing for this current set of players. I like to think it would be a positive, but again, recent history of our fans showing - quite rightly - their displeasure if things are not going well, suggests it may not.

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Cook is already proving he has an astute awareness of our problems and while he has used the term 'mental strength' since his arrival, you sense he is not the type to be battering his players with it in the dressing room.

But, he's right to point it out and, in all honesty, if the players don't know the score by now, they never will.

So, we are off to Wigan this weekend, it's Bristol Rovers after that, then Rochdale. Could it be a happy Easter?

There's not a Sunderland, Hull, Lincoln, Peterborough or Portsmouth in sight from now on in. We've played them all. We've even managed to beat Hull! And we're still in the mix.

James Norwood celebrates opening the scoring at Portsmouth

James Norwood, Town are going to so need his goals in the run-in, as well as his all-round play - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

So much has been made about Town having one of the strongest squads in League One this season but quite frankly if they don't get in the top six from the position they find themselves in now, and with the fixtures they have, that statement will have been proven well off the mark.

Fingers crossed then - the home straight it is.

This Ipswich Town team still - and I can't repeat this enough - still have time to make this a season to remember.

Can Cook's team make it one hell of a wild ride? We'll see.

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