Take two at Shrews... and will it be 10 for 10? - Town visit Shrewsbury

James Norwood holds up play at Swindon Town.

James Norwood battles for the ball during Saturday's 2-1 win at Swindon Town. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town play their penultimate game of the season at Shrewsbury tonight (7pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.

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

TAKE TWO

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.

A frustrated Paul Cook during the second half at Swindon Town

Frustrated Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook has bemoaned his team's lack of goals. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

JUST PRIDE TO PLAY FOR

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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).    

Armando Dobra gets frustrated at Swindon Town

Armando Dobra reacts to a missed chance in the 2-1 win at Swindon. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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.

James Norwood still manages to get a shot on target despite being off-balance at Swindon Town.

James Norwood has scored nine goals in 17 starts and 10 sub appearances this season. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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. 

Former Blue Daryl Murphy has signed for Waterford. Photo: Pagepix

Daryl Murphy was the last Ipswich Town striker to hit double figures for goals in consecutive seasons. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix

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.

Myles Kenlock shields the ball from Brett Pitman at Swindon Town

Myles Kenlock was one of eight Ipswich Town starters at Swindon who are still under contract beyond the summer. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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.

STEVE'S BACK

It was great to see Steve Cotterill finally back in the Shrewsbury home dugout at the weekend.

File photo dated 22-12-2020 of Shrewsbury Town manager Steve Cotterill. Issue date: Monday January 1

Steve Cotterill is back in the Shrewsbury Town dugout having been in and out of hospital with Covid-19. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

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).

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