North Stander: Anything less than three points from the next two games, and we’re doomed

Substitute Jack Lankester hit the post with a late free kick on Friday. Terry Hunt thinks he deserve

Substitute Jack Lankester hit the post with a late free kick on Friday. Terry Hunt thinks he deserves to start on Wednesday night. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

It’s a huge week for Ipswich Town as they seek to build on the renewed hope created by Paul Lambert, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.

Teddy Bishop returned to action against West Brom. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Teddy Bishop returned to action against West Brom. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The next two games - Bristol City at home on Wednesday and Forest away on Saturday – assume massive significance. If we win one of them, then the belief so cleverly instilled by Lambert will grow.

But anything else will not only leave the table looking even more desperate, it will also see that hope starting to ebb away.

Let’s not kid ourselves – the situation is utterly dire. Even though Saturday’s results were relatively kind, we still slipped further behind and now find ourselves six points from safety.

All the stats, all the history, will tell you we are doomed. But Lambert’s arrival has introduced a belief that, against all the odds, we might somehow escape from the awful mess we’re in.

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Performances have improved, there is clearly a transformation in team spirit, and Lambert has made it obvious how important a part the fans can play in what we all hope will be a remarkable escape.

Lambert has done just about everything right in the short time since he arrived. I love the way he is so animated on the touch line. We haven’t seen anything like that since Jim Magilton.

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But, in the final analysis, Lambert will be judged on results. To be honest, I wasn’t too surprised or disappointed by the defeat against West Brom. They are packed with Premier League players, and will certainly be in the promotion shake-up. They had Dwight Gayle and Gareth Barry on the bench, for goodness sake!

It’s our results against the more run-of-the-mill Championship teams which will decide our fate. That’s why the games this week against Bristol City and Forest are so massively important. Not only for the six points on offer, but also because the results will tell us whether the ‘Lambert factor’ will give us a genuine chance of avoiding the drop.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The West Brom game was a great occasion – apart from the result. The club got it right by dropping ticket prices, the fans responded and came along in their droves, and the atmosphere was better than I can remember for absolutely ages.

The team played with energy and passion. It’s all we paying customers can ask for. Of course, we are still painfully short on quality and that might well be the telling factor in the end.

The powers-that-be at Portman Road will surely look to use more ticket offers, won’t they? A buzzing, busy stadium can make such a difference. Twelfth man, and all that.

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I know there’s a risk of annoying season ticket holders like me, who have already paid good money up front, but if it means not having to watch the likes of Rochdale and Accrington Stanley next season, then I’ll accept it!

On that subject, I really hope lots of the extra fans who came to the West Brom game turn up again on Wednesday night. It would be disappointing to see the attendance drop back below 15,000, with an inevitable impact on the atmosphere.

The great irony about our current plight is that the future looks so bright, if only we can escape relegation this season. Three youngsters in the England under-20 squad, Jack Lankester looking a terrific prospect, Teddy Bishop back from injury, and Ben Morris scoring his first professional goal for Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

I loved what I saw from Lankester against West Brom. He looks to have real quality, and confidence. It would have been brilliant if that injury-time free-kick had curled in, rather than just clipping the post. I hope the kid starts against Bristol City. He might give us the x-factor we’re missing so badly up front.

By the time I write this column next week, I believe our situation will be much clearer. Three points or more from these two games, and we have a chance. Anything less, and we’re doomed. Come on you Blues!

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