Match preview: Huddersfield Town v Ipswich Town – No time for Blues to dwell on FA Cup horror show
Ipswich Town end a difficult week with a tricky game at Championship high-fliers Huddersfield Town this afternoon.
The Blues have been stagnating for more than 12 months now and a stuttering season hit a new low on Tuesday night when a 1-0 defeat at non-league side Lincoln City in the FA Cup was played out in front of almost five million viewers on BBC One.
The result wasn’t the most humiliating thing, rather the fact that the Blues produced such an abject and listless performance. For the second time in 10 days, they were out-fought and out-thought by a team that plays three divisions lower. It rather dampened the argument that all of Town’s limitations are purely to do with a restricted budget.
It was a continuation of the Blues’ highly-frustrating one step forwards, two steps back campaign. There have been some dynamic and vibrant displays around the turn of the year (Bristol City, QPR and Blackburn), but every mooted turning point and potential springboard for momentum has proved a false dawn. This is the deepest Town have gone into a campaign without recording back-to-back victories in more than a decade.
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If a dark cloud has hung over Portman Road for the past 12 months, the sun has been shining on the John Smith’s Stadium for a similar period of time.
The West Yorkshire side finished the 2015/16 campaign playing some exciting, attacking football under German boss David Wagner and a cheap season ticket offer added to the feelgood factor.
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A summer recruitment drive – mainly based around Premier League loanees and players from the German leagues – has paid dividends.
The high-pressing Terriers enjoyed a flying start to the season (winning eight of their opening 11 league games), slipped a bit once they became less of a ‘surprise package’ (claiming just one victory in eight), but now appear to be back on track after securing 15 points out of a possible 21 to move back into the play-off places.
And having comfortably beaten League One side Port Vale 4-0 at home in the FA Cup, they have a Fourth Round tie at another third-tier club, Rochdale, to look forward to.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy and his players can’t afford to dwell on their midweek horror show.
The games come thick and fast. Next Saturday sees another long trip, to Preston, then it’s Derby (h), Reading (h), Aston Villa (a). Brighton (a), Leeds (h) and Norwich (a).
“Yesterday was a tough day for me and the rest of them,” admitted the Blues boss, speaking at Thursday’s press conference.
“It was humbling, humiliating, embarrassing. Sometimes that suggests that the opposition weren’t very good, but they were. They haven’t lost at Sincil Bank since September.
“Despite all that we shouldn’t lose to them. But congratulations to them.
“I’ve been the giant killer, I’ve been the one that’s turned the big teams over and the day after you are basking in glory and telling everyone how good you are.
“When you are the bigger team it is horrible, but you’ve got to get over it. I’m back to work today. I’ve got a game on Saturday.
“We’ll soon find out if the players have got over it. If you go around and ask them they will say ‘yeah, I’m fine’. I’m never quite certain about that. We’ll see.”
He added: “Does the other night worry me? Yeah, it does. I wouldn’t want to see too many of them.”
On Huddersfield, who won 1-0 at Portman Road last October, McCarthy said: “They are a good side. There are a lot competing for those top six spots, but I think they’ll manage it. They are good going forwards, but I do think you can score against them.”
– Star man Aaron Mooy, the Australian international midfielder on loan from Manchester City, is a doubt after he jarred his back in training.
– The Terriers will definitely be without midfield duo Jack Payne (suspended) and Kasey Palmer (hamstring).
– David Wagner has made two additions so far in the January transfer window. Forward Izzy Brown has been brought in on loan from Chelsea after he was recalled from Rotherham, while 6ft 3in ‘aggressive, powerful’ striker Collin Quaner was signed from promotion-chasing German second-tier side Union Berlin yesterday. The latter is still awaiting international clearance.
– The Blues were dealt another major injury blow this week with the news that centre-back Adam Webster has been ruled out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage that requires surgery. Paul Digby looks set to keep his place in a back three.
– Teddy Bishop and Brett Pitman returned to training on Thursday. Pitman is in the squad today, while Bishop will play for the Under-23s against Liverpool tomorrow.
– Myles Kenlock, Tommy Smith, Giles Coke, Luke Hyam, Jonny Williams and David McGoldrick all remain sidelined.
– January additions Kieffer Moore (Forest Green) and Jordan Spence (free agent) are in the squad. Striker Moore, who is 6ft 6in, will be a physical option, while ex-MK Dons man Spence is an athletic right wing-back.
Ipswich Town 0 Huddersfield Town 1
Town drew a blank for the fourth successive game as they lost to the Championship table-toppers (October 1, 2016).
Centre-back Chris Schindler headed home from a 58th minute corner to settle another uninspiring spectacle on Suffolk soil as the Terriers recorded their first win at Portman Road in 20 years.
Huddersfield weren’t exactly dominant, but they took their chance, struck the post at 0-0 and had far more stand-out performers as Manchester City loanee Aaron Mooy ran the show in midfield.
Huddersfield 1 Ipswich 1
Huddersfield’s high press and fluid front line makes them easy on the eye, but they haven’t blown anyone away. All 14 of their league wins have come by a single goal. They are the only team in the top 11 with a non-positive goal difference (30 goals for and against).
Ipswich’s players should be determined to ram the critics’ words down their throats today. And don’t forget the last three league displays have been good. I expect both teams to score. A draw would be a decent result.
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