'Fans need to do their jobs... will the ball in, make the opposition panic' - Lambert on power of Portman Road crowd as Ipswich head for home straight
PUBLISHED: 15:41 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 31 January 2020
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has called upon supporters to 'do their job' as the League One promotion race hots up.
The Blues host Peterborough in a crunch top-six clash tomorrow afternoon, with 10 of their remaining 16 games all coming on Suffolk soil.
Away form was far better than home form during the first half of the campaign, but 2020 has started with impressive performances and wins against Accrington Stanley (4-1) and Lincoln (1-0) at Portman Road.
"The fans have got a massive part to play," said Lambert, whose side should be watched more than 18,000 spectators again tomorrow. "We need them. Football is our job and they've got a job as well, to come and create that atmosphere. In years gone by fans used to come to the match and just watch, but now it becomes a job for them as well. We need them to do their jobs and help us.
"They've been absolutely phenomenal. The travelling they have to do is incredible, especially in midweek when it can take five/six hours to get home.
"It can never be underestimated the power of a crowd - either for you or against you. I've played in games where you can't get out at certain times, teams are coming at you from all angles and you're thinking 'when is it going to stop?' It's like the crowd is willing it in. We need that, the crowd to will it in. If you have that it can pay huge dividends. The opposition can panic."
Town moved back to the top of the table following last weekend's impressive victory against the Imps, but slipped to third after Tuesday night's disappointing 1-0 bashing at the hands of new league leaders Rotherham.
Peterborough arrive in Suffolk just one place and two points behind Town in the standings after successive wins against Wycombe (4-0 at home), Rotherham (2-1 at home) and Accrington (2-0 away). Just six points separates the top seven at present.
"The team has been going really well, so I'm not going to let one defeat blight anything," said Lambert, whose team started 2020 with a five-game unbeaten league run. "It wasn't just one guy off their game on Tuesday night. Most of us, no all of us, fell below par. But I'm not going to sit here and say it's a major disaster.
"Credit to Paul (Warne)'s team, they beat us fair and square, but this is a different game.
"Peterborough have brought a few in and spent a bit of money. It's going to be a hard game, but it's going to be equally hard for Peterborough. We're at home, we're playing well and it will be a good game."
With Ipswich yet to register a victory against a side currently in the top nine (D7 L3), Lambert was asked if beating a promotion rival - Town travel to Sunderland next weekend - was required really ignite a promotion push.
"I don't know - I never look at that," he said. "You try and win whoever you're playing, whether it's against second, third or 18th. It's about trying to win football matches.
"There's a hell of a lot of games to go still. Anything can happen. The Easter period will be important as well.
"There's no point keeping an eye where we're at in the table or who's at the top because at this moment it's game by game."