Match preview: Ipswich Town are all but safe, while Newcastle’s promotion still not assured
Ipswich Town host Newcastle United in a Championship match tomorrow afternoon (3pm). Here’s what could be in store.
Newcastle keen to get over the line
The Magpies went into the Easter weekend with a chance of sealing a quickfire return to the Premier League at Portman Road. Those hopes were dashed on Friday as first Huddersfield snatched a last-gasp winner against Preston, then Rafa Benitez’s men conceded a 96th minute goal to draw 1-1 at home with Leeds.
It means their gap to third was cut to eight points with four games to play. The north east side aren’t exactly sprinting for the line – they’ve won just two of their last seven (and they were narrow home victories against Burton and Wigan) – but will not be short of confidence following a dominant display against Gary Monk’s promotion-chasers.
Blues out of trouble
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We all thought Town were safe when they beat Wigan, then doubts crept in again as others below them picked up wins, but Friday’s 2-1 win at Burton means they are now almost certainly set for a 16th successive season in the Championship. A point today could be enough to make it mathematically so. Mick McCarthy has always said he wouldn’t experiment with his line-up until that was the case.
And they look a threat
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Town were struggling to muster many attempts on goal for a long time, but they’ve posed a constant threat in their last three outings. David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears have struck up a decent strike partnership, while the fit-again Tom Lawrence has provided two assists. They could and should have scored more in both the 3-1 loss at Fulham and 2-1 win at Burton.
Town haven’t beaten the Magpies since a 1-0 win at Portman Road – courtesy of a Marcus Stewart penalty – in their superb Premier League campaign of 2000/01. That December victory over Sir Bobby Robson’s men lifted them to third at the time.
The Magpies ran out comfortable 4-0 winners on their return to Suffolk in 2009 as they stormed their way to the Championship title. Once again promotion favourites following relegation, the big-budget outfit cruised to a 3-0 win over Mick McCarthy’s men at St James’ Park last October.
United by Sir Bobby
The late, great Sir Bobby Robson is an iconic figure for both clubs and opposition fans will be united in their love of one of English football’s most successful managers today. Half-and-half scarfs are far too abundant in modern football, but tomorrow they have meaning.
Will Daryl Murphy play?
It’s hard to tell. Toon’s 22-goal topscorer Dwight Gayle is out injured. Big money flop Aleksandar Mitrovic – labelled ‘not good enough’ by club legend Alan Shearer – got the nod ahead of Murphy on Friday.
Town’s former talisman has made just seven starts, eight substitute appearances and scored five goals since his £3m switch to St James’ Park at the end of last August.
The Irishman is sure to get a warm welcome back on his return to Suffolk.
Games both will have an eye on
Blackburn host Bristol City in a huge relegation six-pointer, while Huddersfield could put the pressure on Newcastle with a win at Derby.
Return to this website tomorrow for plenty of build-up, interviews, team news, live match coverage and reaction.