Take two at Shrews... and will it be 10 for 10? - Town visit Shrewsbury
- Credit: Pagepix Ltd
Ipswich Town play their penultimate game of the season at Shrewsbury tonight (7pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.
This game was originally due to take place on February 13, but was called off less than an hour before kick-off due to a small section of the Montgomery Waters Meadow pitch being frozen.
The potential to put the match back 24 hours was discussed before Ipswich decided that it was too short notice to arrange appropriate accommodation and catering.
A lot has changed since then.
Ipswich Town are under new owners, while Paul Cook has replaced Paul Lambert in the dugout.
JUST PRIDE TO PLAY FOR
- 1 'Beautiful inside and out': Tragedy as mum dies 48 hours after giving birth
- 2 Ipswich Town reveal full retained list as six first-teamers get extended stays and eight depart
- 3 Town confirm four more exits at end of season
- 4 Armed police box in cars on A12 after men seen 'fighting with swords'
- 5 Search for man after girl, 10, accosted at B&M store in Stowmarket
- 6 'The honour of my life' - Chambers' message to Town fans after departure confirmed
- 7 Exit Interview: Farewell to Ipswich Town's most iconic player of the last decade
- 8 Jeffers set for Ipswich Town coaching role
- 9 Restaurant launches giant cheesecake and cookie company
- 10 Town remain in talks with Edwards over new deal
We are officially into dead rubber territory now.
If we discount unlikely goal difference swings, Ipswich (currently 10th) head into their final two matches able to finish anywhere between seventh and 14th.
Tonight's opponents Shrewsbury (currently 17th), can only rise or fall one place now.
For those of you wondering, the Blues have avoided the ignominy of registering their lowest ever league finish as a professional club (that's 17th in Division Three South way back in 1950 and 1952).
Could the Blues finish as the division's lowest scorers? Yes, but that's highly unlikely.
Town are currently third bottom in those rankings with a paltry 43 goals from 44 games.
Bristol Rovers and Northampton are both on 41 goals and have just one match left to play, against Blackpool (a) and Sunderland (a) respectively.
Paul Cook's men are going to need to score three goals in their final two fixtures to avoid finishing a campaign with an average of less than a goal per game.
That's only happened six times in the club's history - 69/70, 71/72, 85/86, 93/94, 94/95, 18/19 - with three of those seasons ending in relegation.
TEN FOR NO.10?
When Ipswich finished bottom of the Championship in 18/19, their joint top-scorers were Freddie Sears and Gwion Edwards on six apiece.
That was the first time in almost a decade that a single Blues players had failed to finish the campaign with a double digits goal tally (Jon Walters top-scored with eight in 2009/10).
Realistically, only one man can stop that happening again.
James Norwood's captain's brace in Saturday's 2-1 win at Swindon took his tally for the season to nine.
That's pretty good for someone who's only started 17 matches in another injury-hit season.
Town's other 10+ goalscorers in recent years are as follows: Jason Scotland (10 in 10/11), Michael Chopra (14 in 11/12), DJ Campbell (10 in 12/13), David McGoldrick (16 in 13/14), Daryl Murphy (13 in 13/14, 27 in 14/15 and 10 in 15/16), Brett Pitman (11 in 15/16), Tom Lawrence (11 in 16/17), Martyn Waghorn (16 in 17/18), Joe Garner (10 in 17/18) and Norwood (11 in 19/20).
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Eight of Town's starting XI at Swindon on Saturday - David Cornell, Kane Vincent-Young, Luke Woolfenden, Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell, Armando Dobra and Norwood - are contracted beyond this summer.
So while a large number of the squad may well be resigned to getting released over the coming weeks, plenty of others still have an opportunity to show manager Cook that they have a key role to play going forwards.
The Blues boss said recently that it's unlikely he will turn to anyone from the youth team over the last couple of games, but did add that he's not completely ruling it out.
Might he take one or two of the Under-18s for the trip to Shropshire tonight four days on from their thrilling FA Youth Cup quarter-final win against Sheffield United? The likes of Elkan Baggott and Liam Gibbs would seem the most likely candidates.
Or perhaps he'll include a player from the high-flying Under-23s? Someone like Tyreece Simpson?
You could argue that it's better to give any of them the benefit of senior matchday experience over a senior player soon to be heading for the exit door.
It was great to see Steve Cotterill finally back in the Shrewsbury home dugout at the weekend.
The 56-year-old has been in and out of hospital with Covid-19 pneumonia throughout 2021, with assistant Aaron Wilbraham having taken the wheel.
On their day, the Shrews have shown they can be dangerous opposition. Indeed, they've beaten all of the current top five this season.
They come into this match off the back of five defeats in the last six though and with one of the worst home records in the division (W5 D7 L10).