Lewington puts faith in Town fans

WATFORD boss Ray Lewington is hoping Ipswich fans can help his side end a two-game losing streak away from home, writes Derek Davis.Lewington has heard how the Town fans at Portman Road have turned on manager Joe Royle and his players in recent games and wants to exploit that.

WATFORD boss Ray Lewington is hoping Ipswich fans can help his side end a two-game losing streak away from home, writes Derek Davis.

Lewington has heard how the Town fans at Portman Road have turned on manager Joe Royle and his players in recent games and wants to exploit that.

At the same time he has called on the Hornets' travelling band of followers to get his side buzzing with their vocal support.

Lewington said: "The reports we have had from the last few Ipswich home games are that their crowd are getting a little bit restless, just starting to turn on the team a bit and that is of real encouragement to us."


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Although the gold shirts will be outnumbered Lewington believes they can do their bit, just as they did in Tuesday's victory over Derby at Vicarage Road.

He added: "The noise really helped us on Tuesday. I know our away fans will be good but it was great to hear the home fans at it. I know it affected the Derby players adversely so, if proof were needed as to its effect, let Tuesday's result stick in everyone's head.

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"All I can say is 'more of the same' please for Saturday's game.

"If the team do their bit by unsettling Ipswich players, the crowd can add to the home team's uncertainty. Another team effort and three points would be great."

Lewington is expected to make just one change from the side which beat George Burley's Derby 2-1 with Chris Baird making his debut and skipper Neal Ardley moving up from right-back into midfield with Lee Cook losing out.

Baird joined during the week on loan from Southampton but has already scored once for Watford this season. The Ulsterman netted an own goal while on loan at Walsall to hand the Hornets a point.

Watford will be without the injured Neil Cox and Marcus Gayle, while Manchester United loanee Danny Webber is still suffering with a shoulder problem.

Lewington hopes his defence will cope with Town's young attack and will look to Scott Fitzgerald and Heidar Helguson for their goals.

Fitzgerald was plucked from non-league Northwood for a nominal fee and was not expected to make a sudden impact. But he is the club's leading scorer with 10 goals and has proved a handful in the division.

Paul Mayo is another who has settled in well. The left-back joined from Lincoln City last month.

Paolo Vernazza is likely to start on the bench. The ex-Arsenal midfielder had short spell on loan at Portman Road six years ago.

Both teams have gone four games without a clean sheet and Lewington is not expecting a goalless draw.

Although Town have had 500 attempts on goal in the league this season and are top scorers in the division with 72 goals, they have the second-worst defensive record behind Wimbledon.

Lewington said: "My nerves could not take a really high-scoring game- unless it's like Burnley when we won 7-4 and we were always in front.

"No one wants a four-all or something like that but I would settle for a point.

"Realistically, we have got to stop their flow through midfield because they always look to pass and are very flexible, mid-match, about the system, they play depending on how Joe feels the game is going.

"We have got to close their players down, frustrate them and gradually exert our game on them."

Watford will also be without Wayne Brown who has extended his loan spell at Colchester United until the end of the season.

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