The end of the ‘fear factor’ as players excited by Portman Road again

PAUL Jewell believes the dark days at Portman Road are a thing of the past.

The Super Blues have celebrated five straight wins at home with Ipswich going into tonight’s rearranged match against Middlesbrough full of confidence – despite Saturday’s slip-up at Watford.

Jewell and skipper Carlos Edwards believe the backing from the terraces has played a massive part in Town’s turnaround – a far cry from when the manager spoke earlier in the season of a ‘fear factor’, right, suffered by his players at home.

“Players are going into games – especially home games – and you can see the excitement in the dressing room,” Jewell explained. “In those dark days, we were looking towards home games with trepidation and our nervousness was transmitting itself into the crowd. At the moment, we are full of positive energy.

“Supporters are the lifeblood of any sport and we want to get them excited and looking forward to games. We’re getting back on a decent surface at Portman Road, in front of our home fans, and we’re looking to enjoy our football.”

While the play-off dream might have died at Vicarage Road, Jewell has called on his players to keep the home form going – against Tony Mowbray’s men tonight and then Barnsley on Saturday.

West Ham, Cardiff, Bristol City, Peterborough and Burnley have all left Suffolk empty-handed and two consecutive wins in the next four days should leave Town on the brink of the top-ten.

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And Edwards said: “Since we went on this nice run, we expect to win against any team we play at home. The guys have that feeling. We haven’t played particularly well in the last two or three games at home but it is good when you play badly and get three points.”

Jewell revealed yesterday that Grant Leadbitter would go straight back into the side following his one-game ban as Ipswich look to bounce back from a poor second-half showing at Watford.