Pitch problems, a broken record and a need to freshen up - Town face Peterborough
- Credit: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town take on Peterborough United at London Road this evening. Andy Warren takes a look ahead to the clash of League One promotion hopefuls.
All eyes are on the London Road pitch heading into this game.
Anyone who watched highlights of Posh’s victory over Crewe at the weekend will have seen a patchy surface with some boggy areas. A burst pipe under the pitch hasn’t helped in recent weeks and, though the issue has been fixed since being discovered in December, the surface has not improved.
Charlton boss Lee Bowyer described it as ‘unplayable’ following his side’s defeat there last month, with Sunday night’s snowfall in Peterborough certainly not helping matters.
The home club have covered the surface with further snow expected last night and throughout the day, right up until kick-off. Temperatures are expected to be below freezing by 7pm, which could cause real issues once the frost covers are removed.
Posh insist they hope the game will go ahead but, if it does, conditions are not going to be pretty.
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If it is called off, the next free Tuesday is not until March 23 as an already hectic schedule becomes that little more packed.
Sadly, if the game does go ahead, Town will be looking to alter what has been a hugely repetitive narrative heading into another game against a League One big gun.
It’s not a point that needs to be laboured now, given we all know just how dire the Blues’ record against the third tier’s best sides has been over the last two seasons.
Paul Lambert’s men have played eight games against the top seven in this league and lost the lot, including twice to Sunderland and once to tonight’s opponents, and have managed just two goals in the process.
Clearly that needs to change and, until it does, there’s going to be little room for a true sense of optimism to build.
Build me up
Optimism, let’s discuss that a little more given we were provided with a nice dose of it on Saturday.
The Blues carried a much greater goal threat against Blackpool and played with renewed energy and drive, in part down to the introduction of three new signings.
It was much needed and, while it’s done little to change the overarching mood and certainly hasn’t caused all concerns to vanish, there were plenty of things to get behind.
Full-backs Luke Matheson and Myles Kenlock were up and down their flanks, the central defensive partnership of Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness had their most comfortable game together and Alan Judge had his best game for quite some time.
The combination of Flynn Downes and Andre Dozzell showed flashes of telepathy while Troy Parrott brought movement and work rate in attack which has been missing for some time.
It’s definitely something to build on.
This is the second time in just 18 days that the two sides of come together, with the previous meeting far from a classic.
Neither team were able to get things going at Portman Road, with Peterborough’s attacking triumvirate of Jonson Clarke-Harris, Sammie Szmodics and Siriki Dembele failing to land a glove on the Blues. Indeed, Posh left Ipswich with three points despite failing to have a shot on target, with McGuinness putting through his own net to condemn Town to defeat.
It was hardly the ruthless attacking team we feared could tear Ipswich apart but Lambert’s men weren’t equipped to take advantage, having just one shot on target of their own in what was the latest chapter of a repetitive story.
This game at London Road was originally due to be played on December 19 but for coronavirus cases on both sides, in what was going to be a third (Posh) against fifth (Ipswich) contest played out between two sides level on points.
It’s a different picture now. Peterborough sit fourth, seven points clear of 10th-placed Ipswich having played a game more.
Three points for either team could change that picture hugely, narrowing the cap significantly for the Blues or seeing Peterborough pull away into the distance.
Mixing it up?
There were plenty of hints following Saturday’s win that Lambert may look to mix things up for this evening’s game, with conditions under foot potentially coming into the equation.
Could the sloppy pitch suit veteran full-backs Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, rather than Saturday’s young duo? Maybe James Norwood could offer aggression in attack and save Parrott’s legs for a better day or maybe either Teddy Bishop or Josh Harrop could come into the midfield.
Perhaps the most likely area for change could be in the wide areas, with Gwion Edwards surely itching to play against his former club. He could potentially replace Luke Thomas, who was quiet on Saturday.
We’ll find out at 6pm.