Town look to go for goals
WITH a play-off place in the bag Ipswich players are being told to go out and do what they do best – bang in the goals, writes Derek Davis.Blues boss Joe Royle is hoping the tension built up over a 46-game league campaign will have gone and his Town players can express themselves against West Ham, in the same way his Oldham side did in 1990 when they hammered the Hammers 6-0 in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals.
WITH a play-off place in the bag Ipswich players are being told to go out and do what they do best – bang in the goals, writes Derek Davis.
Blues boss Joe Royle is hoping the tension built up over a 46-game league campaign will have gone and his Town players can express themselves against West Ham, in the same way his Oldham side did in 1990 when they hammered the Hammers 6-0 in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals.
West Ham won the second leg 3-0 but it didn't matter, the Latics were in their first and only League Cup final, where they eventually lost out to Manchester United.
Away goals do not count in the play-offs any more so Royle is looking to take a lead from Saturday's tie at Portman Road into Tuesday's second leg at Upton Park.
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He said: "It would be handy if we could do what I have done with another team against West Ham in a two-legged semi-final though I doubt if it will be 6-0 again.
"It doesn't matter if it is 1-0 or 5-4 just as long as we go there with a lead and we come out on top again.
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"We know we can score goals from anywhere in the side and although we did not play well against Cardiff I felt defensively we did do well."
While Royle and his staff have been there, seen it and got the medals, his side showed signs of nerves on Sunday, something he doubts will be repeated.
"It was significant that of all six sides which were after a play-off place, none won. That shows the tension.
"That has gone now and the players can relax a little, though not too much. We only know the gung-ho way of playing but West Ham have quality strikers as well in Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora and David Connolly, with Brian Deane to come off the bench, so we will have to be wary of that."
Town's main injury worry for Saturday's game is Tommy Miller, who has a badly bruised foot.
The Blues have banged in 84 goals in the league, more than any other team in the division.
Town's attacking intent is also highlighted in shots on target, 347, bettered only by Coventry City, and Royle's men hit the woodwork a dozen times this season.
Individually, Darren Bent, who was the Powergen/EADT Player of the Year, topped Town's scoring charts with 15 goals in 32 starts. Shefki Kuqi actually scored 17 goals this season, 11 in the league for Town, one in the cup and five more league goals in seven games for Sheffield Wednesday.
Skipper Jim Magilton weighed in with the most assists, eight, while Ian Westlake was credited with six.
Town used just 25 players in doing so, the lowest in Division One, including one game for keeper Lewis Price and two brief substitute appearances for youngster Scott Mitchell.
Royle also called on loanees Alan Mahon and Matt Elliott, while Shefki Kuqi and Chris Bart-Williams were initially at Portman Road on a temporary basis but stayed the season.
Wimbledon, with everything that went on there, used 36 players, the most in the division, closely followed by Town's play-off rivals West Ham, who used 35 players and three managers.
Discipline was not a problem either and Town finished fourth behind winners Crewe and the official Fair Play table lists two sendings off, although Georges Santos' at Millwall was later rescinded so really only Drissa Diallo's dismissal at Norwich City blots the copybook.
The crowd played its part to with the average attendance in the league reaching 24,520; the highest was against Norwich when 30,152 packed in just before Christmas.
Town's travelling support won plaudits up and down the country and the highest attendances at West Ham and Norwich came from when Ipswich visited.
The league attendance totalled 563,955 with another 48,683 turning up for the three cup games, taking the tally to 612,628, with a play-off semi-final to come and a sell-out 30,000 expected.