MATCH PREVIEW: Ipswich Town out to cap a perfect week by piling more misery on Nottingham Forest

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town could end the perfect week inside the play-off places with a home victory over Nottingham Forest today.

OVERVIEW

Ipswich Town could end the perfect week inside the play-off places with a home victory over Nottingham Forest today.

The Blues’ confidence is sky-high following last weekend’s 2-0 win at Brighton and Tuesday night’s last-gasp victory over Derby at Portman Road.

Having previously come up short against the division’s top sides, Mick McCarthy’s men have put themselves right back in the top six mix heading into the final eight matches of the campaign.


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Injury-hit Nottingham Forest, by contrast, arrive in Suffolk at the other end of the morale spectrum. Just a few weeks ago the East Midlands side were still in contention for one of the automatic promotion slots. Five defeats and three draws later and they find themselves in seventh and only above Town on goal difference.

Last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of rivals Derby saw manager Billy Davies sacked, with Gary Brazil in caretaker charge for the 1-0 home defeat to Charlton on Tuesday night. Neil Warnock and Stuart Pearce have both ruled themselves out of the job, with owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi stating that Malky Mackay, Steve Clarke and Gianfranco Zola are on a shortlist.

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MICK’S MUSINGS

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy didn’t think his side had a cat in hell’s chance of catching Nottingham Forest just a few weeks ago.

“I did think they were gone,” he admitted. “I wasn’t trying to be clever when I said that, I wasn’t trying to play mind games. I’m too honest for that caper, I don’t do all that stuff. I genuinely didn’t think we’d catch them.

“I’d like to think if we’d been the ones in that situation then the team 10 points behind wouldn’t have caught us.

“They’ve just had a bad run and who knows why? Billy (Davies) made much of this injury crisis, but it does take its toll.

“They’re still no mugs though, believe me. We’ve just watched the game they played in midweek against Charlton (1-0 home defeat). Despite losing in the last 10 minutes or so, they’ve got a good squad still filled with solid Championship players.

“When we went up there and drew 0-0 that was a good result. They’ve been flying at some stages.

“Managers come and go, but it really is a case of the king is dead, long live the king. Players look after themselves and they’ll be building this game up. It’s a hard game for us, this is not an easy game this.”

OPPOSITION

Gary Brazil, Nottingham Forest caretaker manager

“Everything we have done this week has been geared towards sending out 11 players with a positive attitude.

“The pressure is there because people are desperate to get to the promised land. The anxiety is there because something looked as though it was there and it seems to have moved away from us a little bit. But we have got to say to ourselves that we are not going to give it up.

“As a club, as a group of players and a group of fans, we need to stick together.

“There is no denying that this is a tough period for us. This is a massive club and we really need to show the quality we have right now. It is a big game, but they are all big games now. There is a pack forming, a pack of teams vying for those play-off places.

“We are one of those teams. We have as good an opportunity as anyone else.

“Ipswich will be competitive, they will have intensity and energy. They will play with a good tempo. They are a side that we will need to placate, we will need to take the sting out of the game. We need to stop them from doing what they are good at.

“A number of impartial people might believe this is going to be a home win. We will see what happens.”

TEAM NEWS

IPSWICH TOWN

– Mick McCarthy could name an unchanged starting XI for the third successive game following big wins against Brighton and Derby.

– Time will tell if this is Jonny Williams’ last game for the club. The Welsh international has captured the imagination of fans with three scintillating starts, but his short-term loan from Crystal Palace expires following today’s game. Eagles boss Tony Pulis was at Portman Road to witness Williams’ fine display in midweek and may decide he wants him back as the South London side continue their Premier league relegation fight. The two clubs must decide by Monday whether the loan is extended or not.

– Cole Skuse is fit and available after missing the last two matches with a leg injury, while Luke Chambers has been passed fit after suffering blurred vision in midweek.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

– Former manager Billy Davies used to play a 4-4-2 system at home and a 4-2-3-1 formation away, but it remains to be seen whether caretaker boss Gary Brazil will stick with that tactic.

– The East Midlands side have a well-documented injury crisis with the first-choice back four of Eric Lichaj (hernia), Jack Hobbs (ankle), Kelvin Wilson (back) and Chris Cohen (knee) all out, key midfielders Henri Lansbury (ankle) and James Vaughan (knee) also absent, playmaker Andy Reid struggling (hamstring) and striker Dexter Blackstock (knee) sidelined.

– In addition, young centre-back Jamaal Lascelles is suspended today after picking up his 10th booking of the season in Tuesday night’s 1-0 home defeat to Charlton.

– As a result, it looks likely that Greg Halford will switch to centre-back to play alongside former Town loanee Danny Collins. New loan signing Lee Peltier (Leeds) will make his debut at right-back.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Anderson, Hyam, Wordsworth, Hunt; Williams; Murphy.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Peltier, Halford, Collins, Fox; Jara, Greening; Mackie, Majewski, Paterson; Cox.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

He’s not always grabbed the headlines, but do not underestimate the role Daryl Murphy has played for Ipswich Town this season.

The Irishman is in the form of his life. Arguably the best target man in the division at present, he’s a threat from set-pieces, wins everything in the air, runs the channels and gets back to defend. And if you took David McGoldrick’s two penalty conversions and gave them to Murphy then their tallies would read McGoldrick 14, Murphy 12.

He’ll be up against a makeshift centre-back today in Greg Halford. The former Colchester United man has been playing at right-back but will have to cover in the middle due to Jamaal Lascelle’s suspension.

Murphy’s power and Jonny Williams’ movement could cause problems.

LAST MEETING

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0 IPSWICH TOWN 0

Ipswich Town kept their momentum going with a gritty goalless draw at The City Ground last December.

Both keepers made fine saves in the match and, while it was the hosts who had the better of the game, Town defended superbly – riding their luck on the odd occasion – to make it six successive games unbeaten away from home.

Town won 3-1 when Forest last visited Portman Road, Guirane N’Daw, Luke Hyam and Daryl Murphy the home scorers.

PREDICTION

If Ipswich get the all-important opener then I could see them going on to win by a comfortable margin. The Blues are at their most confident following massive wins against Brighton and Derby, while managerless Forest are at their lowest ebb following eight games without a win. Confidence snowballs, while fear of failure can grip you.

Ipswich do seem to be the team that out-of-form sides often stop the rot against, but I can see Forest’s misery continuing for one more game.

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