Predictions for Ipswich Town's make-or-break March
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Following some February frustration, Ipswich Town now head into a make-or-break March. STUART WATSON looks at five big fixtures.
When: Saturday, March 5 (3pm)
Where: Highbury Stadium
Fleetwood have picked up since Stephen Crainey replaced Simon Grayson in the hot-seat last November.
- 1 A12 reopens after air ambulance called to three-lorry crash
- 2 Suffolk campsite named among the best in the UK by the Guardian
- 3 Weather warning for Suffolk as thunderstorms expected to affect travel
- 4 'Like a Halloween scene' - huge caterpillar webs engulf hedges
- 5 Town take up option on Tyreece Simpson... plus two other youngsters update
- 6 Suffolk celebrates! Full list of county's 185 street parties for the Queen's jubilee
- 7 River turns white after limestone powder spillage
- 8 Man admits sex offences against children dating back to 2005
- 9 Dog walker in his 70s suffers cuts and bruises after attack in west Suffolk
- 10 New curator appointed at Suffolk tourist attraction
The Lancashire club may be winless in seven, but they've also lost just three of their last 13. During that spell they've beaten Bolton and Rotherham (completing an impressive double over the league-leaders) and drawn against Plymouth, MK Dons and Portsmouth.
On Saturday, they led 3-0 at Fratton Park only for a soft penalty award on half-time to change the dynamic of the game. Pompey struck twice late on to deny them a big win.
That result leaves the Cod Army two points above the drop zone with at least two games in hand on all of the teams below them.
With their next three matches against Wigan, Ipswich and Sunderland, Crainey said: "We’re really looking forward to our games ahead. There isn’t much in League One and if we go into games the way we know we can we'll carry momentum."
The Fleetwood matchday squad is likely to contain three former Blues players in Toto Nsiala, Ellis Harrison and Joe Garner. Young Northern Irish striker Paddy Lane, who was signed from non-league club Hyde in 2020, has scored four in six.
Ipswich will be itching to prove they can take their chances following frustrating draws against Cheltenham and Morecambe. Fleetwood won't be as fresh having away played in midweek.
Prediction: 2-1 Ipswich
When: Tuesday, March 8 (7.45pm)
Where: Portman Road
After impressive January wins against Oxford, Sunderland and Plymouth, the Imps have been pulled back into a relegation fight with five losses in seven.
Boss Michael Appleton said he 'couldn't defend his players' following Saturday's damaging 2-0 home loss to Gillingham.
His side now go into a tough set of March fixtures, which includes games against Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich, Rotherham and Sunderland.
When asked if his team was too easy to play against, Appleton said: "When you’re on a poor run and lose games, it’s so easy to throw those types of stones at the team. If you ask the opposition managers, nine times out of 10 they’re worried about playing us because they know what we’re capable of. But we definitely have to improve in both boxes, there’s no doubts about that."
Ipswich could face another former player in this game, Teddy Bishop having made 28 starts for Lincoln since last summer's switch.
Kieran McKenna believes the way his team is playing suggests someone could be beaten heavily soon. Could this be the game?
Prediction: 3-0 Ipswich
When: Saturday, March 12 (3pm)
Where: Portman Road
Two points from six games at the start of 2022 really dented Portsmouth's play-off hopes, but Danny Cowley's men are still in the mix following three straight wins (against Burton, Doncaster and Shrewsbury) and that aforementioned three-goal comeback draw against Fleetwood.
The Hampshire club are five points behind Ipswich as its stands, but have three games in hand on the Blues. Eight of their remaining 14 games are against teams currently in the top 10.
Striker Aiden O'Brien, who arrived from Sunderland on January deadline day, said: "We’re easily top two material. I’ve only been here for three weeks, not even a month which is a very short space of time, and I know the quality every day and we have some top, top players."
Pompey, who are scrong freely at present, will be keen to avenge their 4-0 loss to Ipswich back on October 19.
Prediction: 1-1 draw
When: Saturday, March 19 (3pm)
Where: Kassam Stadium
Oxford traditionally come on strong in the second half of the season.
With that in mind, the U's look a good bet for a third successive year in the play-offs as we towards the final straight.
Since the start of 2022, Karl Robinson's men have put seven goals past Gillingham, four past Charlton and Cambridge, plus three past Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth.
Plymouth, Wigan and Bolton are the only three teams to have won at the Kassam Stadium in the league this season.
This looks the toughest of the March fixtures.
Prediction: 2-1 Oxford
When: Saturday, March 26 (3pm)
Where: Portman Road
The Pilgrims were top of the table back in November, but then saw manager Ryan Lowe poached by Championship club Preston.
Assistant boss Steven Schumacher stepped up and now they find themselves out of the play-off places.
Four successive wins against lowly sides Doncaster, Crewe, Shrewsbury and Gillingham were followed by defeats to Cambridge and Rotherham recently.
Will the South West side come on strong or run out of steam? Their trip to Portman Road marks the beginning of a very difficult looking seven-game run-in that includes games against Oxford, Wycombe, Sunderland, Wigan and MK Dons.
There was nothing between the sides when Town lost an entertaining game 2-1 at Home Park back in October.
Prediction: 1-0 Ipswich
Town have claimed two points per game since McKenna took charge (P12 W7 D3 L2). I've got them down for the same return over the next five (W3 D1 L1).
That might be enough to give them a fighting chance heading into the final six matches against Cambridge (h), Shrewsbury (a), Rotherham (a), Wigan (h), Crewe (a) and Charlton (h).