Royle: Any win will do

AS exciting as some of the home games have been this season, a simple 1-0 win would do nicely for Ipswich Town against newly-promoted Portsmouth at Portman Road tonight.

AS exciting as some of the home games have been this season, a simple 1-0 win would do nicely for Ipswich Town against newly-promoted Portsmouth at Portman Road tonight, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues have been involved in some rip-roaring games at home this season but have not won in the league by the single goal in this campaign yet.

At this stage of the season a drab win, without conceding, would mean as much as some of the thrillers, without all the pulse-raising worry.

Ipswich have scored 71 goals, bettered only by Portsmouth, Leicester and Forest, but they have conceded 56 goals, 12 more than any of the top eight.


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Town drew at Fratton Park with Thomas Gaardsoe heading in from a corner but after going behind in their last three games, before fighting back, Royle would love to see revenge exacted without too much drama.

Royle said: "It would be nice to win a game without giving a team a two-goal start. We owe them one because I still feel aggrieved that we did not win down there so if we play as I know we can we will have a chance to put that right. Our need is much greater than theirs.

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"Portsmouth looked a little tense on Tuesday but now having confirmed promotion it will take the pressure off and hopefully now they know the season is done and perhaps mentally they will relax and play better."

A Town win tonight would put pressure on sixth-placed Wolves and a few hours later Reading and Nottingham Forest will battle to try and secure a play-off place.

Royle said: "The positions can change as we have seen in the top six recently although ourselves and Norwich have not been able to break in. But it can change again and there will be changes in the next four games.

"We can't target any one team but it is possible to catch someone. It means nothing if we don't win all our games, starting with Portsmouth."

Royle has been delighted with the recent form and partnership of strike duo Pablo Counago and Marcus Bent.

Bent has banged in five goals in four games while Counago has weighed in with three in three.

Royle said: "They are looking more like a pair recently. I thought at one stage they couldn't play together but they have done so lately. They both have so much going for them individually and if Pablo gets that consistency going and Marcus realises all the weaponry he has, he can be awesome – they can be a great pair."

Royle said: "It was good to see them score two apiece last week, albeit a bit fortuitous in Marcus's case but no one would begrudge us a bit of luck at this stage."

Richard Naylor misses out today after failing to recover from a twisted knee so Matt Holland will slip back into the right of a three-man central defence.

Thomas Gaardsoe has shown no reaction to a recent groin strain and will be in the centre with Chris Makin to his left, with Fabian Wilnis and Matt Richards as wing-backs.

But Town have shown they can swiftly switch to a 4-4-2, which may be more suitable in the unlikely event that Pompey go to one up front.

Alun Armstrong returns to the 16-man squad after a 90-minute run out for the reserves in their 1-1 draw at home to West Ham.

Darren Bent will step up his training next week and has a good chance of playing in the home game against Wimbledon next Saturday. Royle said: "He should play in the two, hopefully five, remaining games of the season."

A capacity crowd of more than 29,000 will pack Portman Road despite the game being live on television. Royle added: "There will be a great crowd so I hope we can give them the sort of performance we did against Forest, without the 10-minute walkabout."

Pompey are expected to be unchanged from the side which clinched promotion in midweek by beating Burnley in midweek with a Svetoslav Todorov winner.

Ipswich Town: Marshall, Wilnis, Holland, Gaardsoe, Makin, Wright, Magilton, Miller, Counago, M Bent, Richards, Reuser, Pullen, Armstrong, Bowditch and Westlake.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Primus, Foxe, De Zeeuw, Stone, Sgerood, Quashie, Festa, Person, Bradbury, Todorov, Kawaguchi, Harper, Burton, Pericard and O'Neil.

Referee: Eddie Wolstenholme (Blackburn).

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