Shrews chief on why Ipswich decided not to re-arrange game for tomorrow

Paul Lambert talks to Shrewsbury Town officials after the game was postponed.

Former Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert talks to Shrewsbury Town officials when the game was postponed back in February. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Limited

Shrewsbury Town chief executive Brian Caldwell has explained the reasons why today’s game against Ipswich Town was postponed less than an hour before kick-off and why the Blues opted against rescheduling the match for tomorrow.

The game at New Meadow was officially called off at 2.15pm following a series of pitch inspections, referee Lee Swabey deeming that some small areas of the playing surface were being becoming increasingly frozen and therefore would endanger player safety.

Both clubs then held discussions about playing the match tomorrow, something the EFL gave the green light to, but Ipswich ultimately decided not to go ahead with that plan due to 'logistical' reasons.

That means that the match is unlikely be played until the very end of the campaign. Ipswich have just three blank midweek slots left - March 23, April 27 and May 4 - but Shrewsbury have games on the first of those two dates. 

Paul Lambert and Stuart Taylor talk to Shrewsbury Town officials after the game was postponed.

Paul Lambert and Stuart Taylor talk to Shrewsbury Town officials after the game was postponed. - Credit: Pagepix Limited

“At a quarter to 10 this morning it looked okay,” said Caldwell. “I spoke to the referee, explained where we were at, that we trying to keep the covers on as long as possible because of the minus temperatures. 

“We lifted the covers off at 11 o’clock and the referee came at a quarter-to-12 once they were off. He went over the pitch and he thought it was playable.

“There was a slight concern about a couple of areas which were firmer than other areas, but bizarrely between him having a look around at a quarter-to-12 and half-one, two o’clock-ish, the pitch actually hardened up in other areas as well.

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“It was worse despite the temperature getting to a positive, to plus one, the pitch got worse in certain smaller areas.

The Ipswich Town management team at Shrewsbury Town after the game was postponed.

The Ipswich Town management team at Shrewsbury Town after the game was postponed. - Credit: Pagepix Limited

“It is very confined areas, on the far side there was an obvious bit of a problem, it was a bit harder and he just felt for players’ safety it was the right thing to do.

“The majority of the pitch, 95 per cent, (was fine). Perhaps five per cent had actually got worse. It’s quite unusual to see that when the temperature rises, that the pitch actually worsens.”

He added: “It’s very difficult, we tried to give everything as much chance as we could and, to be fair to the referee, he came along and was very helpful, he walked the pitch with me at a quarter to 12 today and was quite happy with things, but he wanted to monitor it between then and three o’clock.

“If there’s one benefit from not having supporters and people not travelling to games, it’s that we were able to give it as much chance as we possibly could.

“But it’s just because of the temperatures and the pitch hardening in very small areas that players’ safety has to come first.

The covers are brought back out after the game was postponed at Shrewsbury.

The covers are brought back out after the game was postponed at Shrewsbury. - Credit: Pagepix Limited

“Sometimes it is difficult coming from soft ground to hard ground, I get that. At the end of the day we have to look after the players even if it is a very small portion of the pitch.”

Caldwell says plans to reschedule the game for tomorrow fell through due to Town not feeling they would be able to prepare correctly.

“The delay has partly been because we spoke to Ipswich about playing tomorrow, for them to stay in a hotel tonight and try and play the game tomorrow," he said.

"The EFL was happy with us trying to do that.

“Ipswich stayed locally last night, which made it easier for us to hold on as long as possible today. They stayed locally last night, obviously the hotel opened up for them and brought chefs in especially, so it was short notice for them to get another (night’s) hotel accommodation and I think they just decided it was probably better that they prepare better for a Tuesday night game when we play it at some point later on in the season.”

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