Matt: Let's send out a message

IPSWICH Town are looking to send a chilling message out to their play-off rivals tonight (KO 5.15pm) by putting on an impressive show against newly-promoted Portsmouth, writes Derek Davis.

IPSWICH Town are looking to send a chilling message out to their play-off rivals tonight (KO 5.15pm) by putting on an impressive show against newly-promoted Portsmouth, writes Derek Davis.

Blues skipper Matt Holland wants his side to pile the pressure on the likes of Wolves, Reading and Nottingham Forest in what he believes is a make-or-break Easter weekend for the play-off contenders.

Holland, who is likely to drop back into a centre-half role, said: "We have come up from a lowly position in the league and our form now is pretty good so teams will have taken notice of what we have done in recent weeks. How we came back from two down at Coventry, which says a lot about the spirit in the side – not just the character we have but we are scoring goals as well. It would be great to beat Portsmouth and do it well, so people see we are still pushing and are desperate to get in the play-offs. Teams will be watching so that is the message we want to send out."

Victory tonight against championship-chasing Pompey, and another three points at Rotherham on Easter Monday will leave Town in prime position to snatch a top-six place.


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Holland said: "It is a make-or-break next couple of games for us. Nothing is guaranteed but it is pretty much do-or-die this weekend.

"Portsmouth will be a lot more relaxed now that they have been promoted but they will still want to go for the title so won't be making it easy for us.

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"It is a big fixture for us."

After the cauldron of a capacity 29,000-plus crowd at Portman Road, Town will set off for the footballing outpost of Millmoor and Ronnie Moore's Rotherham United.

It is not an easy place to play, as Holland remembers all too well.

He said: "I played a few times there when I was at Bournemouth and it is a difficult ground to go to. The pitch is on a slope and Rotherham are a tough side to beat.

"They beat us at Portman Road earlier in the season and they showed they are a hard-working, tough, physical side.

"I was with the Republic of Ireland squad recently and met Alan Lee, who was in the squad. He plays up front for them and I was very impressed with him. He is a good finisher and very strong, so we will have to look out for him.

"So they are two tough games over the weekend but both are very winnable and in the form we are in at the moment we are capable of beating both.

"It is a case of keeping our momentum going and keep pushing towards that play-off place."

Holland believes Portsmouth will cope well in the Premiership but will need to wheel and deal, and in Harry Redknapp they have just the man to do that.

He added: "It is not always easy for players to gel in a team but they have done that.

"Paul Merson is very instrumental in that with his goals and inspiration.

"There won't be massive money spent but there are bargains to be had as that is the way football is going. If anyone can spot a bargain it is Harry.

"It is difficult for teams when they go up but we proved it is possible to do well by going up and finishing fifth in our first season."

Redknapp was Holland's boss at Upton Park and offered him another year's contract but also warned there were players ahead of him in the midfield positions so the Republic of Ireland international went to Bournemouth, despite an offer from Peterborough.

There are less than 1,000 restricted tickets left for sale for tonight's match, which can be collected from the ticket office, or by calling 01473 400555.

There will be 150 for sale at selected turnstiles in the Britannia stand from 3pm tomorrow. Supporters are reminded the game kicks off at 5.15pm as it is live on television.

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