IT’S just as well that Ipswich Town prefer playing teams higher up the table.

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The Blues are the only club in the bottom half of the Championship not to have a home game against a team currently in the bottom six left to play.

That may not necessarily be a bad thing though given the fact that Town – one point above the drop zone with 15 games to play – have struggled against the sides around them this season.

Defeated by Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road under the management of Paul Jewell and Chris Hutchings respectively earlier in the season, Town have been held to home draws against bottom three Peterborough, Bristol City and Barnsley under Mick McCarthy.

In fact, their only win against teams currently in the bottom six came at Wolves over Christmas, with a draw at Barnsley and defeat at Bristol City completing the set.

That only leaves matches at Peterborough and Sheffield Wednesday to come, with only Wolves having so few games left against the teams in the bottom six.

On the face of it, that is a worrying fact considering that at least five more wins are probably needed to avoid the drop.

However, Town – short on creativity but high on organisation and work rate – have been at their best when the order of the day has been frustrating more expansive opponents and then picking them off on the counter.

Their three most impressive homes wins have come against Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Middlesbrough, meaning the visits of high-flying Hull, Leicester, Watford and Crystal Palace need not be looked upon with trepidation.

And last weekend’s narrow 1-0 defeat at Blackburn shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that four away wins have already been achieved under McCarthy, as well as a goalless draw at table-toppers Cardiff. Games at top-half sides Millwall, Derby and Burnley could also suit the Blues’ approach.

Looking to avoid relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in more than half a century, Town’s run-in starts with the visit of Blackpool on Saturday – a side who, despite winning the reverse fixture 6-0 six months ago, are currently dropping like a stone.

SEVEN KEY FIXTURES

BLACKPOOL (H) When: Saturday

THIS Saturday’s visit of the free-falling Seasiders could well be crucial.

Rocked by the departure of manager Ian Holloway to Crystal Palace last November, Michael Appleton lasted just 65 days as his replacement before moving to Blackburn, while the latest reports are that Paul Ince – father to star man Tom – could replace caretaker boss Steve Thompson in the hot-seat by the time the team arrives at Portman Road.

The Lancashire side have claimed just 11 points from their last 10 games – one less than Ipswich – and could easily be sucked into the relegation fight. Victory for Town at the weekend would see them move to within just two points of a side currently occupying 14th spot in the table.

HUDDERSFIELD (H)

When: Saturday, February 23

ONLY Wolves are in worse form than the Terriers at present – another side who are dropping like a stone under caretaker management.

The Yorkshire club – who started the season so strongly after promotion – have won just one league game in 15 to fall within three points of the drop zone.

Having beaten a weakened Leicester side 2-1 away to progress in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday night, Mark Lillis’ side are at home to Wigan in the fifth round on Sunday. Time will tell if the cup is a boost or a distraction.

They travel to Nottingham Forest next Tuesday, a side also out of form, before hosting Ipswich four days later.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (A)

When: Tuesday, March 5

TOWN went down to an embarrassing duo of defeats to Forest last season – the Midlands side putting three goals past the Blues at either end of a seven-game streak in which they’d failed to find the net once.

As it stands, Mick McCarthy’s men can feel confident that it could be them completing the double in these matches this season. The Suffolk side despatched the Midlanders 3-1 on a Tuesday night with a virtuous display at the end of November and could be heading into the reverse fixture – also on a midweek night – as the team in better form.

Having controversially sacked manager Sean O’Driscoll after a Boxing Day win over Leeds left the side just a point adrift of the play-offs, Forest’s Kuwaiti owners have been left with egg on their faces. Alex McLeish lasted just 38 days in the job, with Billy Davies returning to the club last week.

Forest – who have taken just nine points from a possible 30 – face Bolton (a), Huddersfield (a), Charlton (h) and Sheffield Wednesday (h) before Town’s arrival at The City Ground.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED (A)

When: Saturday, March 9

IPSWICH Town will not be short of motives when they return to London Road.

The Blues were thumped 7-1 there in front of the Sky television cameras towards the start of last season and return battling against their fellow East Anglians for survival.

With their campaign including a seven-game losing streak and an eight-game winless run, Posh looked certainties to return to League One this time around not so long along ago.

Just two defeats from the last nine means the division’s rock-bottom club have stayed in touch with the pack though, with manager Darren Ferguson having called upon father Sir Alex to bring in two players on loan from Manchester United last month. Town have won just once in their eight games against teams in the bottom six. Posh are unbeaten in five home league games.

BOLTON (H)

When: Saturday, Match 16

DOUGIE Freedman may be regretting making the move from Crystal Palace to the Reebok for reasons of ambition.

While his former club – full of young and exciting talent – push for promotion under Ian Holloway, the Trotters’ underperforming experienced players – many of whom came down with the club from the Premier League – are facing the very real possibility of back-to-back relegations.

Like Ipswich, the north west outfit have taken just 12 points from their last 10 games, with the in-form chasing pack all closing the gap during that time. Last weekend’s 2-1 home win over Lancashire rivals Burnley will have provided a shot of confidence though and, in a month’s time, they may well be travelling to Portman Road in far better shape once the likes of January signings Craig Dawson and Craig Davies have settled in.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (A)

When: Saturday, April 20

WITH his side just two points above the drop zone, it might seem strange that Owls boss Dave Jones is wishing the season wasn’t heading towards its finish. The Yorkshire side are second in the form table to league-leaders Cardiff though, having dropped just nine points from their last 10 games, and are looking up rather than over their shoulders at present.

By the time Ipswich travel to Hillsborough it will be the third-from-last game of the campaign. Wednesday – who thumped Town 3-0 at Portman Road the game after Paul Jewell’s departure – could still be flying by then, but there is a good chance their purple patch will have come to an end by then.

BIRMINGHAM (H)

When: Saturday, April 27

TOWN’S final home game could be crucial heading into a season finale at Burnley.

Birmingham are currently just three points above Ipswich in the table. Having won just twice in 15 matches, they have picked up of late – beating both Burnley and Forest before drawing at Charlton.

The Midlands outfit still have to travel to the likes of Hull, Palace and Leicester though and could well be still scrapping it out come the final few weeks of the season. This has all the ingredients for a nervy afternoon at Portman Road for all parties.

<TOWN’S RUN-IN>

Blackpool 14th (H)

Watford 4th (H) Huddersfield 18th (A)

Leicester 3rd (H)

Nottingham Forest 13th (A) Peterborough 24th (A) Bolton 17th (H)

Leeds 11th (H)

Millwall 12th (A) Derby 10th (A)

Hull 2nd (H)

Crystal Palace 5th (H)

Sheffield Wednesday 19th (A) Birmingham 16th (H)

Burnley 9th (A)

11 comments

  • Yet even more vacuous drivel from Ged Steroo. Have seen more intelligent comments on toilet paper after use. Also showing true intelligence levels in his spelling and language (condoning?? or condemning??). Looking forward to the weekend and will be interesting to see if Mr One Way at NCFC can pick up his quota of 1 point, 1 goal and stick to his one way of playing.

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    SussexTractorBoy

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Despite the attempts to whip up a bit of hysteria it should be utterly impossible to shoehorn Town into the relegation zone... despite Yorkshire Jewell appearing to give it his best shot in recent weeks. More pertinent would be a spate of articles on what might be the best thing for Town from now on... particularly as has already been pointed out, Yorkshire Jewell is actually doing worse than the genuine article when he was the new broom. In other words absolutely nothing will change as things stand - apart from the names. I happen to agree with those who have suggested that relegation would be no bad thing. I don't necessarily think Town would get back any time soon and might even 'do a Luton'...but it would make the intolerant 'supporters' who moan at a decade of division 2 mediocrity (ie a better performance than well over half the league.... not bad for an asset-stripped small town club) have their eyes opened to reality. Division 3 and perhaps 4 will also bring novelty for the genuine supporter.. and make the current lower mid-table mediocrity something to aspire to rather than despise. Going by the experience of Cambridge Utd, even dropping out of the league is not necessarily a catastrophe as the club has been reclaimed from would-be asset strippers and they are attempting to rebuild from within. When they return to the league, IF they return, they will even have a football club to support.... which let's face it is the one thing Town no longer have.

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    Rob Steroo

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • We all (me included) need to ignore tweedledum & tweedledumber). Both muppets - although one is clearly moronic whereas the other is mildly amusing if misguided. I agree that we won't go down this season - hopefully our lousy record in relegation 6-pointers against the likes of Bristol doesn't come back to haunt us though.COYB.

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    Richard Gardiner

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • I actually think it is ridiculous that a club who have spent the millions that ITFC have find themselves in this situation. I don't think they will go down but it is a joke that they are where they are after years of paying high wages and transfer fees

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    Jamie Sandilands

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Oh! dear those fixtures look like condoning the town to certain relegation, so better get those satnavs ready for trips to Crewe and Yeovil etc fans. That is IF you want to go to teams in the 3rd division??? Norwich in the PREMIER league are just a round 80 mile trip away and well worth it. Man Utd or Crewe lol

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    ged scott

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • No, Ged is right to mock. We did exactly the same when Norwich were facing relegation from the Championship. But Ged, you need to work really hard to have a shot at getting that D in GCSE English. Here's the opening sentence of the EADT piece that made you LOL: "The Blues are the only club in the bottom half of the Championship not to have a home game against a team currently in the bottom six left to play." Marginal gobbledygook right? See if you can translate it into simple, understandable English. And, as the erudite Rob would tell you, the gap between "condone" and "condemn" is quite wide.

    Report this comment

    Jerry Jones

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Perhaps ME set a target for MM to maintain Championship status within a minimal budget and then thought if he did that it was worth a million pound bonus. Mr Evans obviously did not think that PJ was the man to achieve this hence tempting MM because he thought he was the only available applicant to achieve his master plan. The crux of the matter is if this is the ongoing strategy we have no hope of getting anywhere near the premiership and if we do achieve it we have no hope of staying more than 1 season as money will be used to repay the loan. I hope there is a plan better than this scenario but without some word about ME's vision for the next 2 to 5 years we, the remaining fans, will get further dissillusioned.

    Report this comment

    bristan

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Back to the EDP Ged. See if they can teach you to spell, punctuate and use correct grammar while you're at it.

    Report this comment

    Andrew Mehen

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Once again your premise is hilarious... 'IT’S just as well that Ipswich Town prefer playing teams higher up the table...' Obviously.... because there are so few teams below them.... and they have appointed a gravy train riding manager who thought a binus appropriate for 'achieving' the inevitable lower mid-table mediocrity.

    Report this comment

    Rob Steroo

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • To me Ged, No to you Rob. Chucklebrothers.

    Report this comment

    72alwaysblue

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • How you both must have nothing better to do, I know and understand that it is the "bite" you are looking for but seriously the brain capacity that you both must have reminds me of a catatonic cabbage, please and i am sure it is a request from true readers of the paper and supporters of the Blues when i say that your idiotic and nonsical comments are better placed upon a roll of toilet paper in the Canary's restuarant. I would rather see ITFC v Yeovil than listen to the drivel that you constantly talk. Go back to Budgie Land and enjoy the football in the Premiership for this last season.

    Report this comment

    truebluealways

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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