Hot ticket for what could be a big night... AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich

Wes Burns celebrates after leveling for town.

Wes Burns celebrates after scoring in Saturday's 2-1 home win against Accrington Stanley. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town take on AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane this evening (7.45pm ko). STUART WATSON previews the action.


FOUR IN FIVE?

Can Ipswich Town make it four league wins from five under new boss Kieran McKenna? It would be one hell of an achievement.

For context, the Blues have managed such a run of form just four times since their sixth-place Championship finish of 2014/15 (Dec 2015: W4 L1, Aug 2017: W4 L1, Aug-Oct 2019: W7 D1, Sept-Oct 2020 W4 D1).

Town have been answering several questions since the Northern Irishman took charge last month.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna celebrates.

Ipswich Town have won three of their first four games under new boss Kieran McKenna. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Can they hold a lead? Yes. Can they come from behind? Yes. Can they stand up to physical challenges? Yes. Can they respond to defeat? Yes.

Winning again would go a long way to dispelling the long-running feeling that there's always a false dawn around the corner. It would go a long way to shaking off the 'wildly inconsistent' tag which has soured this season.

Most Read

Three more points tonight would really get everyone believing that the promotion push which looked so unlikely just a few weeks ago could still be on.


BANANA SKIN POTENTIAL

AFC Wimbledon, for the fifth season in a row, are embroiled in a League One relegation scrap.

Will this be the year they finally slip through the trap door? We'll see. One things' for sure, Mark Robinson's men won't go down without a fight.

AFC Wimbledon's manager Mark Robinson applauds fans after the Sky Bet League One match at Stadium MK

AFC Wimbledon manager Mark Robinson (left) applauds fans. - Credit: PA

On one hand, the South London side are currently on a seven-game winless streak during which time they've scored just three goals and exited the FA Cup to Boreham Wood. On the other, they come into his match unbeaten in three following draws against Morecambe (0-0 at home), Portsmouth (also 0-0 at home) and Burton (1-1 away).

No-one needs to tell Town fans how tough this fixture can be.

Since Kayden Jackson's last minute winner at Portman Road in 2019, the Blues' record against the Wombles reads D3 L1. There have been two goalless draws, a dreadful 3-0 loss and, earlier this season, a two-goal lead was let slip to draw 2-2 on Suffolk soil. 

That was then, though. This is now.

AFC Wimbledon's Ollie Palmer (centre) controls the ball under pressure from Oxford United's Jordan T

AFC Wimbledon striker Ollie Palmer (centre) is set to join Wrexham. - Credit: PA

OLLIE OUT

AFC Wimbledon have been dealt a major blow in the build-up to this game.

Their 6ft 5in front man, Ollie Palmer, looks all set to sign for Wrexham after the ambitious non-league club made an offer that couldn't be refused.

Palmer is the focal point of their attack. He's their top-scorer this season with eight in all competitions.

No doubt the Dons will head to the transfer market, but not in time for this game.

General view inside the ground before the pre-season friendly match at Plough Lane, London.

Ipswich Town fans will be visiting Plough Lane for the first time tonight. - Credit: PA

HOT TICKET

Town's initial allocation of 1,100 away tickets were snapped up within 30 minutes of going on sale. A further 100 went in a flash too.

A London away day is always popular, but the fact this is a new ground to visit made it an even hotter ticket.

Wimbledon left their original Plough Lane home in 1991. They ground shared with Crystal Palace for a long time, then came the unsavoury Milton Keynes relocation in 2003. It took years for the phoenix club to get back to their spiritual home. Typically, their first season at the purpose-built 9,215 capacity stadium, on the site of the former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, coincided with Covid and behind-close-doors football.

It should be a great atmosphere tonight. Hopefully it ends on a happier note than Town's last trip to the capital - the 2-0 loss at Charlton back on December 7.

Conor Chaplin celebrates scoring Towns second, to take them into a 2-1 lead against Accrington.

Conor Chaplin returned to the Ipswich Town team on Saturday to score his eighth goal of the season. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

ANOTHER RESHUFFLE?

McKenna picked the same 10 outfield starters for his opening three games in charge.

But, off the back of the 2-0 loss at Bolton, he decided to shuffle the pack - and it paid dividends against Accrington.

Bersant Celina and Conor Chaplin came into the team to play as dual No.10s in behind Macauley Bonne. Both took their chance. Celina provided an exquisite through ball assist for Wes Burns' equaliser and Chaplin hammered home the winner.

Will it be the same front three tonight? Sone Aluko is available again (he missed the game at the weekend after his partner gave birth), while James Norwood will be champing at the bit having been dropped off the back of a hot scoring streak. Maybe tonight's the night that Bonne, who has started the last 22 league games in a row, gets a rest?

Then there's midfield... Skipper Sam Morsy could be suspended tonight - we await the FA's verdict. Will Lee Evans (groin) or Scott Fraser (knee) be fit enough to return from minor niggles? Is Tom Carroll good to go again following his first league start since September 25? Beyond them there's new Bristol City loanee Tyreeq Bakinson, plus the listed-for-loan duo of Rekeem Harper and Idris El MIzouni.

Whether Kane Vincent-Young is ready to go again on the left after a rare 90 minutes is another question. It's unclear whether Matt Penney is ready to return from a niggle. Kyle Edwards is another option on that side. 

Swindon Town's Tyreece Simpson (centre) and Manchester City's Kyle Walker (right) battle for the bal

Tyreece Simpson (centre) was recalled by Ipswich Town in January following an 11-goal loan spell at Swindon. His current deal expires this summer, but the club do hold the option to extend that by a further 12 months. - Credit: PA

TIME FOR TYREECE?

It was surprising to see Town recall striker Tyreece Simpson from his 11-goal loan spell at promotion-chasing League Two club Swindon on Sunday.

For now, there are more questions than answers around that decision. Are Town trying to get a fee out of the Robins or other interested parties? Will he be loaned out to a League One club for further development? Or does McKenna want to take a look at the 19-year-old himself before his contract expires in the summer?

It'll be interesting to see if the powerful and pacy front man replaces either Joe Pigott or Kayden Jackson on the bench.

Pigott, of course, is returning to the club where he is considered a modern day legend following 54 goals in a three-and-a-half year spell. He'll get a very warm reception. Some of the home fans may even be wondering if their club can get the 28-year-old back given his lack of game time at Portman Road.