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'What happened from August cost us' - Lambert bemoans situation he inherited on day Ipswich Town's relegation could be sealed

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 April 2019

Paul Lambert leaves the field following Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat at Brentford. Photo: Pagepix

Paul Lambert leaves the field following Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat at Brentford. Photo: Pagepix

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Ipswich Town's relegation to League One would be sealed today if they fail to beat Birmingham City. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Luke Chambers after the final whistle at Brentford. Photo: PagepixLuke Chambers after the final whistle at Brentford. Photo: Pagepix

Ipswich Town’s relegation to League One could be sealed today – and manager Paul Lambert says the damage was done long before his arrival.

In order to prevent ‘R’ officially appearing next to their name this weekend, the Blues have to beat Birmingham City at Portman Road and hope that at least one of Wigan, Reading and Millwall lose.

Dropping into League One – a level the club has not played at since 1957 – has long looked a matter of inevitability though for a team that has won just four games all season.

MORE: ‘You can’t just chuck 10 youngsters on the pitch and expect it to happen’ - Bishop on Skuse’s vital midfield role

Lambert, who replaced Paul Hurst in the hot-seat late last October, has galvanised fans with his language of inclusivity and positive playing style. Results have not improved though (P27 W3 D9 L15, compared to Hurst’s: P15 W1 D7 L7).

“It’s not Wednesday night (2-0 loss at Brentford) that’s put us in this position,” said Lambert. “It’s not last week, it’s not the last three games or the last 10 games; it’s what’s happened from August.

“When you come back in July that’s when your season starts, not November/December. If the club had been doing great in August I wouldn’t be here. That’s what’s cost us.”

MORE: Stu says: Season in a nutshell and gallows humour as Town are on brink - thoughts from Brentford defeat

The Scot added: “I don’t know how many draws I’ve had, but there have been too many; far too many.

Paul Hurst lasted just 15 games as Ipswich Town manager at the start of this season. Photo: PagepixPaul Hurst lasted just 15 games as Ipswich Town manager at the start of this season. Photo: Pagepix

“But as I’ve said before, if you lose so many goals out your team through the three lads who left the club (Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick)...

“Altogether, it was 48 goals with the players that left. That’s an incredible amount to lose.

“The club is in transition, it goes another way, loses managers, player turnover is high, young players are coming on...

“As I’ve said before, the club has got to have a structure to build.”

MORE: ‘It might not feel like it at the moment but that will help them’ - Lambert says youngsters will learn from Brentford loss

With more than 16,000 expected to be in attendance this afternoon. Lambert added: “The great thing is that the club’s got a great support. The support is unrivalled for the position we’re in. These fans deserve the club to be better.

“As I’ve said before, we’ve played some really good football for the last two months with no breaks. We’ll be better for it.

“If maybe three or four of those draws had been wins it could have been different.

“If you’d have said to me that we’d have one bad 45 minutes performance over two months (first half against Brentford) then I’d have took it.”

Gwion Edwards (left) could return to the Town team today if he recovers from a groin problem. Photo: Steve WallerGwion Edwards (left) could return to the Town team today if he recovers from a groin problem. Photo: Steve Waller

Opposition lowdown

Last five finishes: 19th, 19th, 10th, 10th, 21st (all Championship)

Manager: Garry Monk (Mar ‘18): P54 W18 D16 L20

Last game: D 1-1 Sheff Utd (h)

Last away game: L 3-2 West Brom

Last 10 games: DWLLL LLWDL

Away form: W6 D6 L8 F29 A32

Margins of victory: 1 (x6), 2 (x5), 3+ (x2)

Margins of defeat: 1 (x8), 2 (x7)

Top-scorers: 22: Adams; 11: Jutkiewicz

Most league starts: 41: Dean; 40: Jutkiewicz, Morrison; 39: Camp; 38: Adams, Colin

Stat attack

4 – Home wins in 33 for Town (D15 L14)

1957 – Last time Town played in the third-tier

2008 – Last time Town lost at home to Birmingham (W4 D3)

Last meeting

Birmingham City 2 Ipswich Town 2

Date: Saturday, September 29, 2018

Town’s wait for their first win of the season went on as they let a two-goal half-time lead slip at St Andrew’s. Goals from Jon Nolan (26) and Matthew Pennington (41) were cancelled out by a Lukas Jutkiewicz brace (48, 68). Pennington was dismissed late on for a second booking.

Ipswich Town team news

– Cole Skuse missed Wednesday night’s loss at Brentford, with Paul Lambert saying the midfielder has ‘fluid on his knee’.

– Gwion Edwards also missed the game with a groin injury and has to be considered a doubt for this weekend.

– James Collins sat out the loss at Griffin Park but is likely to be in a position to return against Birmingham.

– Callum Elder returned to the Blues’ Under 23s on Thursday after hernia surgery, but Myles Kenlock is set to continue at left-back.

– Lambert has decisions to make at right-back and up front. James Bree started at Brentford but Josh Emmanuel could return to the side, while the Town boss must choose between Collin Quaner and Kayden Jackson.

– Ellis Harrison has been struggling with a back injury.

Birmingham City team news

– Garry Monk could go with the same side which drew 1-1 with Sheffield United in midweek.

– Dutch midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld is out with a serious knee injury, suffered in the home victory over Leeds earlier this month, with his place in the middle of the Birmingham midfield taken by David Davis.

Opposition key man

Striker Che Adams is a player on the radar of clubs higher up the football pyramid heading into the summer. He’s netted 22 times this season and is a real threat both in behind and as a physical presence. His pace is an asset, too.

Betting

Ipswich win - 11/4

Draw - 23/10

Birmingham win - 6/5

Referee

Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)

Games: 36, Yellows: 145, Reds: 5

Stu’s prediction

Ipswich Town 1 Birmingham City 1

Birmingham have just beaten Leeds and drawn with Sheffield United. They are a threat on the counter. Town need to make sure they don’t go down with a whimper in front of their incredible supporters.

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