How Ipswich Town could do with some FA Cup magic 40 years on from their Wembley triumph

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:53 05 January 2018

Ipswich Town assistant boss Terry Connor consoles Jonathan Douglas after Ipswich Town's 1-0 FA Cup third round replay defeat at National League side Lincoln City last January. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town assistant boss Terry Connor consoles Jonathan Douglas after Ipswich Town's 1-0 FA Cup third round replay defeat at National League side Lincoln City last January. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

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Ipswich Town host Championship rivals Sheffield United in an FA Cup third round match tomorrow. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Teenage striker Ben Folami was one of a number of Town youngsters who impressed in a 2-1 Carabao Cup second round defeat at Premier League side Crystal Palace earlier this season. Photo: PagepixTeenage striker Ben Folami was one of a number of Town youngsters who impressed in a 2-1 Carabao Cup second round defeat at Premier League side Crystal Palace earlier this season. Photo: Pagepix

Oh for an FA Cup win

‘Osborne – one-nil!’ – May 6 will mark the 40th anniversary of Ipswich Town’s famous FA Cup triumph against Arsenal.

It’s a competition which hasn’t brought joy for a long time now though. Town have not made it past the first hurdle in the FA Cup game since a 2-1 win at Blackpool since 2010, while their last home win in the competition was against Chesterfield (3-0) in 2009.

There have been replay defeats to Preston (League One), Southampton (Premier League), Portsmouth (League Two) and Lincoln (National League) in recent years. The Southampton and Lincoln disappointments were broadcast to millions on the BBC. The home draws with Preston, Portsmouth and Lincoln games added unwanted midweek away trips to the schedule.

Now, more than ever, Blues fans really could do with feeling a touch of magic, rather than misery, from the world famous competition.

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Town’s last 10 years in FA Cup

2017 – 3R, Lincoln (National League), D 2-2 (h), L 1-0 (a)

2016 – 3R, Portsmouth (League Two), D 2-2 (h), L 2-1 (a)

2015 – 3R, Southampton (Premier League) D 1-1 (a), L 1-0 (h)

2014 – 3R, Preston (League One) D 1-1 (h), L 3-2 (a)

2013 – 3R, Aston Villa (Premier League) L 2-1 (a)

2012 – 3R, Hull (Championship) L 3-1 (a)

2011 – 3R, Chelsea (Premier League) L 7-0 (a)

Kieffer Moore is cup-tied having already featured in the competition this season during a loan spell at Rotherham United. Photo: ©INPHO/Ryan ByrneKieffer Moore is cup-tied having already featured in the competition this season during a loan spell at Rotherham United. Photo: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

2010 – 4R, Southampton (League One) L 2-1 (a)

2009 – 4R, Chelsea (Premier League) L 3-1 (a)

2008 – 3R, Portsmouth (Premier League) L 1-0 (h)

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Nothing to lose

Mick McCarthy has shown disdain towards cup football during his five years in charge at Portman Road, always making wholesale changes to his side and making it clear that the league will always be his priority.

The likes of Leon Best, Paul Digby, Tommy Oar, Larsen Toure, Piotr Malarczyk and Alan Lee have all been called upon for these seemingly inconvenient matches.

This year though, surely, there is little to lose and everything to gain? Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat at Fulham means the Blues have claimed just six points from a possible 18 to slip to 12th in the Championship table. They are seven points adrift of the play-off places and 12 points above the drop zone.

In short, the Blues are looking very much set for a 17th successive season in the second-tier.

This season has been much-improved in terms of entertainment value and restored a little goodwill among supporters, but if the second-half of the campaign does drift then disillusionment and apathy will return with a vengeance.

We’ve seen what joyous scenes knockout success can bring in recent weeks with Bristol City’s win against Manchester United taking them to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Town fans will still look back fondly on Tamas Priskin scoring in that League Cup semi-final first leg 1-0 win against Arsenal under Roy Keane’s management in 2011.

A cup run can turn an average season into a memorable one.

Northern Irish winger Conor McKendry scored four goals in Ipswich Town's last Under-23 outing, a 6-0 win against Coventry. Photo: Ross HallsNorthern Irish winger Conor McKendry scored four goals in Ipswich Town's last Under-23 outing, a 6-0 win against Coventry. Photo: Ross Halls

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Limited options

Town’s injury curse claimed another victim at Craven Cottage when Grant Ward limped off with a sore groin. If he fails a fitness test, then McCarthy will have just 15 senior players to select from tomorrow.

Jordan Spence starts a three-match ban after his ‘moment of madness’ in West London.

Dean Gerken (hip), Adam Webster (Achilles), Teddy Bishop (hamstring), Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Andre Dozzell (knee) and Emyr Huws (knee) are all sidelined, while Flynn Downes (calf) and Tristan Nydam (hip) are doubts.

Adam McDonnell and Kieffer Moore are both Cup-tied after featuring in the earlier rounds for Aldershot and Rotherham respectively during loan spells.

Danny Rowe (Lincoln), Luke Woolfenden (Bromley), Chris Smith (Chelmsford), George Fowler and James Blanchield (both Aldershot) are all currently out on loan.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants his side to get their 'swagger and confidence' back after claiming just one win in nine. Photo: PASheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants his side to get their 'swagger and confidence' back after claiming just one win in nine. Photo: PA

Just four of the starters from the gallant 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat at Premier League side Crystal Palace are available in Pat Webber, Bersant Celina, Ben Folami and Shane McLoughlin.

Teenage striker Aaron Drinan, who has been training with the Blues since October, officially completed his move from Irish side Waterford yesterday and could feature.

There’s still enough firepower in this squad for knockout football though. Attack is almost certainly the Blues’ best form of defence at present.

SQUAD: Bialkowski, Crowe; Iorfa, Chambers, Smith, Webber, Knudsen, Kenlock; Connolly, Skuse, Hyam, Bru, Ndaba; Celina, McLoughlin, McKendry, Patterson; Folami, Waghorn, McGoldrick, Sears.

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Tickets

Journeyman striker Leon Clarke is enjoying the form of his life, having scored 15 goals for Sheffield United this season. Photo: PAJourneyman striker Leon Clarke is enjoying the form of his life, having scored 15 goals for Sheffield United this season. Photo: PA

Tickets are priced at £10 for adults in all areas of the ground.

The club will not be opening the upper tiers in the Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey Stands (behind goals).

Town’s lowest attendance of the season – and for almost 20 years – was the 13,832 for the recent 2-0 home win against Reading.

The FA Cup third round visit of Lincoln last season drew a crowd of 16,027.

Blades blip

Sheffield United have enjoyed a remarkable 18 months under the management of Chris Wilder, storming League One and keeping that momentum going in the Championship.

The Blades won 12 of their opening 17 league games and were playing some swashbuckling football in a wing-back system that affords attacking freedom to all. Town were among the teams vanquished, losing 1-0 at Bramall Lane on October 14 courtesy of Chris Basham’s goal.

However, with key midfield man Paul Coutts ruled out for the season, they are currently going through something of a mid-season slump.

United have won just one of their last nine games – 3-0 at home to Sunderland on Boxing Day – to slip outside of the play-off places they occupied for so long.

They did, by all accounts, play very well in a New Year’s Day 1-1 draw at high-flying Derby though. Wilder said: “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with the second best team in the division so far and we’re right in this.

“We’re a respectful team, not an arrogant bunch, but I’ve said to the players that maybe sometimes I believe in them more than they believe in themselves.

“If we can get that little bit of swagger and confidence back that I saw against Sunderland on Boxing Day, and at times in other games, then we’ll be alright in 2018.”

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