Town going down to the wire

SALVATION Sunday will have an eerie sense of déjà-vu for Ipswich Town fans as they aim for automatic promotion, writes Derek Davis.The Blues go to Brighton on Sunday needing to a win, while looking for Paul Jewell's Wigan to slip up at home against Reading.

SALVATION Sunday will have an eerie sense of déjà-vu for Ipswich Town fans as they aim for automatic promotion, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues go to Brighton on Sunday needing to a win, while looking for Paul Jewell's Wigan to slip up at home against Reading.

Six years ago when Sunderland went up as champions, the Blues went into the last day needing to beat Sheffield United and hoping Bradford, managed by a certain Paul Jewell, would slip up at Wolves.

Although Town did their bit by beating the Blades 4-1 with goals from Jim Magilton, Richard Naylor, James Scowcroft and Kieron Dyer, it was not to be, as the Bantams beat Wolves 3-2 and defeat for Ipswich in the play-offs followed.


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Fortunately, history, omens and superstitions don't count on a football pitch where it is all about players, and Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks is convinced they go to Brighton in absolute top form.

Of course, the Blues will need Wigan to slip up at home against Reading, who need to go one better than whatever West Ham do at Watford to secure a play-off place.

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Sheepshanks said: “When I hear of these omens and suchlike, I'm always reminded of Matteo Sereni's comments that 'superstition is only for weak men'.

“But we know that quite often it can boil down to luck. That said, we go to Brighton in good form.

“The pressure is on Wigan as they have to meet a play-off contender. One of us is going into the Premiership, the other into the play-offs.”

Escape from the Championship would instantly end all of Town's financial woes and be their salvation.

Promotion would be worth in the region of £25m to the club, and almost double that for this part of East Anglia.

Failure to go up will be the catalyst for more misery as the Blues would almost certainly run at a loss next season without the benefit of Premiership parachute payments.

Players would have to be sold and wages trimmed even further. The repercussions are almost unthinkable at a time when former European Champions Nottingham Forest were relegated to League One.

But Sheepshanks wants Town fans to put all that out of their minds and enjoy the last-day experience, for those lucky enough to have tickets for the Withdean, or the many more watching on beam-back at Portman Road.

He said: “Leave those pressures to me and Derek Bowden and the rest of the board and let the fans in Brighton, or Portman Road, thoroughly enjoy the moment.

“Hopefully, we will come away with the right result, but what will be will be. It is not about money at this juncture, it is about football, and we are the form team.

“It was great to see Shefki (Kuqi) back scoring, Tommy Miller again and Pablo (Counago) scoring for the first time in a while. Then we have Darren Bent, who might not have scored but terrorised their defence; he tore Crewe to shreds.

“It is all about the team, and everyone is playing well, determined and in good heart.”

While Sheepshanks is bullish about Town's chances he insists the play-offs hold no fear for Blues.

He said: “Of course, like every Ipswich Town fan I'm desperate to see us get automatic promotion, but if we don't then I'm very confident that we have a great chance in the play-offs.

“Depending on what happens on Sunday we are either the second or third best team in the division and we played with strength, skill and gusto against Crewe and we go to Brighton in very good heart.

“The players will be determined to finish the job.

“We all hoped Preston might have snatched a win but they didn't and these things are all about 46 games over a course of a season.

“It all goes down to the wire now and we have to go to Brighton and make sure we win.

“Reading have an incentive to get result at Wigan as they need the points for their own play-off hopes.”

Ipswich are hoping Naylor recovers from an achilles injury that forced him off early in the 5-1 win over Crewe. Kuqi has a sore thigh, while David Unsworth is still struggling with an ankle injury.

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