MATCH PREVIEW: Ipswich Town know that, realistically, only a win will do against Doncaster Rovers if they are going to gatecrash the play-off party
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich v Doncaster: Ipswich Town host struggling Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road today knowing that nothing less than a victory is realistically required if their dream of gatecrashing the Championship play-off party is to continue.
Ipswich Town host struggling Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road today knowing that nothing less than a victory is realistically required if their dream of
gatecrashing the Championship play-off party is to continue.
The spirited Blues have refused to let their promotion chances fade away in recent weeks, following up their last five defeats with victories.
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Tuesday night’s comfortable 2-0 win at a Huddersfield saw the gap to sixth-place Reading reduced to just two points again heading into the final five matches of the campaign.
The Terriers – marooned in 17th place with little to aim for – provided little resistance in midweek, but Doncaster arrive at Portman Road just four points above the drop zone and still fighting for their lives under fiery boss Paul Dickov.
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The South Yorkshire side may have beaten Leicester, QPR and Wigan at The Keepmoat Stadium this season, but they have the worst away record in the division and suffered two more key injuries in Tuesday night’s 2-1 home defeat to Bolton.
Just twice have they won on their travels in the league this season, with 12 points from a possible 60 gained and only 11 goals scored.
Ipswich, by contrast, have lost just two of their last 13 home games in all competitions, claiming 22 points from a possible 36.
With tough Easter weekend fixtures against top-six rivals Watford (a) and Bournemouth (h) to follow, the pressure is on Town to get three more points on the board today.
- All games across English football will kick-off seven minutes after their original scheduled times this weekend as a mark of respect and remembrance for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy 25 years ago today.
- A bumper crowd is expected at Portman Road this afternoon thanks to the club giving away 12,000 tickets to Suffolk schools and sports clubs.
They may have the worst away record in the league, but Doncaster are a side not to be underestimated
That’s the warning from Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy ahead of the South Yorkshire’s sides visit to Portman Road this afternoon.
“We were discussing relegation a few weeks back and I didn’t think Doncaster would go down,” said the Blues boss.
“When the chips have been down they’ve always seemed to pull that result out the bag and always stay out of it. I think Paul Dickov’s doing a great job there.
“We beat them up there (on Boxing Day) and it looked like an easy game because it ended up 3-0. Let me tell you, they had so many injuries at that time – their team had been ravaged. It will be a much harder game here.
“I don’t think they’ll go down, but they’re still scrapping and for that reason as well it’s going to be really hard.”
- Aaron Cresswell came off in the 60th minute of Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield with a tight groin, but it was just a precautionary withdrawal and he has been passed fit. It means that the Blues are likely to start with the same back four for the 26th game in a row.
- David McGoldrick (knee) remains the only player in the Ipswich treatment room.
- Former Chelsea keeper Ross Turnbull is returning to fitness, but faces a battle to dislodge Manchester United loanee Sam Johnstone from the starting XI.
- The South Yorkshire outfit saw two key defenders ruled out for the remainder of the season at the start of March. Bongani Khumalo – who was on trial with Town last summer – ruptured a kneecap while away on international duty with South Africa just a week after skipper and fellow centre-back Rob Jones underwent major neck surgery.
- Experienced Australian international Lucas Neill was drafted in on loan from Watford as cover, but the former Blackburn, West Ham and Everton man suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday night’s 2-1 home defeat to Bolton. Set to be replaced by former West Brom centre-back Gabriel Tamas (just eight league starts all season) this afternoon.
- Former Blues loanee Ritchie Wellens is one of only three players in the Doncaster squad to have started more than 30 leagues games this season (Khumalo and eight-goal top-scorer Chris Brown the others). Wellens had a pain-killing injection in his foot prior to the midweek outing, but lasted just 34 minutes and is unlikely to play today. Set to be replaced by Dean Furman.
IPSWICVH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Anderson, Skuse, Hyam, Hunt; Williams; Murphy.
DONCASTER ROVERS (4-4-2): Johnstone; Quinn, Meite, Tamas, Husband; Coppinger, Keegan, Furman, Cotterill; Brown, Sharp.
Jonny Williams has added star quality to Town’s spirited, organised and hard-working team since arriving on loan from Crystal Palace.
The Welsh international, deployed in the No.10 role, has built up a good partnership with in-form striker Daryl Murphy and the two of them are striking fear into defences at present with their potent mix of physical strength, intelligent movement, direct-running and speed.
Today they come up against a makeshift Doncaster defence. Romanian Gabriel Tamas – who is playing with a mask after recently fracturing his cheekbone – is likely to be drafted in as emergency cover.
The ex-West Brom man has made headlines for off-field incidents during his career and manager Paul Dickov this week described him as ‘a bit of an idiot’.
Paul Dickov, Doncaster Rovers manager
“There are still five teams below us and we would have taken that at the start of the season.
“I saw character in the players against Bolton. I will give the boys credit for their reaction to going 2-0 down. When you’re down in that position very early in a game you can either sink or swim and I saw a lot there to give me confidence for the next five games.
“They were relentless in trying to do the right things. It would have been very easy against a team with a good squad to have fallen apart but they really rolled up their sleeves and gave everything they’d got.
“If you’ve got players that will do that, it’s always going to give you a chance.”
Doncaster Rovers 0 Ipswich Town 3
Ipswich moved into the Championship play-off places on Boxing Day after sweeping aside an injury-hit and inexperienced Doncaster outfit.
David McGoldrick and Luke Chambers both headed home from corners in the first half, with McGoldrick sliding home a third after the break.
Doncaster won 3-2 on their last visit to Portman Road, that game in 2011 memorable for the way home fans rose to applaud Billy Sharp after he put the visitors 2-0 up – the striker playing just days after his newborn baby had died.
Ipswich Town 3 Doncaster Rovers 0
There are no easy games in the unpredictable Championship, Doncaster have beaten the likes of Leicester, QPR and Wigan this season... Get the cliches out of the way because I’ve not felt more confident of an Ipswich win all season. The Blues cruised through the second half of their 2-0 win at Huddersfield in midweek and now come up against the team with comfortably the worst away record in the division. With Wellens and Neill having joined Rovers’ injury list this week, the odds are firmly in Town’s favour.
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