One win against a promotion rival could give Ipswich Town momentum

A happy Mick McCarthy at Fulham

A happy Mick McCarthy at Fulham

One win against a promotion rival can give you real momentum.

That’s the feeling in the Ipswich Town camp ahead of this afternoon’s match against QPR at Portman Road (3pm ko).

The Blues are sixth in the Championship table thanks largely to their ability to beat the teams in the bottom-half – 25 points gained from a possible 36.

By contrast, just nine points from a possible 30 have been banked when it comes to matches against teams in the top-half.

Town haven’t beaten anyone above or around them in the standings since back-to-back home victories against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley back in August.

And, having just lost to the leading duo of Middlesbrough and Derby at home, the festive fixtures don’t get any easier.

Today, a QPR side that is on the up under new manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink come to Suffolk knowing they are still very much in the top-six mix.

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Then comes tricky-looking trips to Brighton (3rd) and Burnley (5th).

Asked if this was a pivotal moment in his side’s season, manager Mick McCarthy said: “I always think the next game is a pivotal moment because it propels you into the one after that. Having a good result can do wonders for you.

“Look at Bournemouth. They beat Chelsea and I said to Brett (Pitman) ‘that result gets you another result further down the line because it gives you some confidence and belief that you can beat anyone’.

“Then they go and beat Manchester United and also win at West Brom away.”

The Blues boss continued: “If we beat QPR that might give us a little bit more confidence and belief on top of what we’ve already got.

“We had a bad September and then we ended up with a great November. Things can change quickly in this game.

“We want to win the next few games, of course we do, but it may not be the be-all and end-all. As I always say, it’s what you end up with that counts.”

Town winger Ryan Fraser, on loan from Bournemouth, could make his first start today since suffering a medial knee ligament injury three months ago.

“I went to most of their games when I back there doing my rehab,” explained the Scotsman.

“I was at the Everton game, the one which ended 3-3 (in which Bournemouth scored a dramatic late leveller).

“The fans were buzzing, the players were buzzing and that just gave everyone a real lift. You could just tell the season was going to turn around.

“Obviously they then go and beat Chelsea, you think it can’t get better than that, then they beat Man U too.”

Fraser added: “You could say this is the biggest moment of the season for us. We’re in sixth spot but these next three games are huge.

“Middlesbrough didn’t outplay us I didn’t think, while there wasn’t much between us and Derby either.

“I’ve got no doubt at all that we can compete against the top teams.”

– See today’s EADT for match preview. Log on from 2pm for live match updates.