Tired legs, a chance to progress, new faces and maybe even a record-breaker - Town take on Crawley in EFL Trophy

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 10 November 2020

Ipswich Town are in action in the EFL Trophy this evening. Corrie Ndaba (right) could be involved as could Liam Gibbs (pictured right celebrating a goal in the FA Youth Cup last week).Picture: ROSS HALLS/STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town are in action in the EFL Trophy this evening. Corrie Ndaba (right) could be involved as could Liam Gibbs (pictured right celebrating a goal in the FA Youth Cup last week).Picture: ROSS HALLS/STEVE WALLER

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Ipswich Town take on Crawley Town in the two sides’ final EFL Trophy group game this evening. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the contest.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert (right) and his assistant Stuart Taylor lead the Blues in the EFL Trophy tonight. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town manager Paul Lambert (right) and his assistant Stuart Taylor lead the Blues in the EFL Trophy tonight. Photo: Steve Waller

State of play

Here we go, then. It’s time for the deciding game in Group J of this season’s EFL Trophy and Town’s first match under the Papa John’s sponsorship.

Following defeat to Arsenal’s kids and victory over Gillingham, tonight’s equation is pretty simple for the Blues if they want to progress. Better the Gills’ result.

The two sides are locked on three points, three behind Arsenal, but Town are ahead of their League One rivals by two goals so, should Ipswich better their result, they’ll be through.

David Cornell in action during the 3-2 defeat against Portsmouth in the FA Cup Picture: Ross HallsDavid Cornell in action during the 3-2 defeat against Portsmouth in the FA Cup Picture: Ross Halls

The picture will be even more clear when Town take to the field, given the Gillingham v Arsenal game kicks off at 5pm.

So if Arsenal win again and keep a perfect record, Town could still lose to Crawley by one goal and make it through to the knockout phase.

But the best route through to the next round is victory.

Town side

Brett McGavin could start again in midfield.     Picture: Steve Waller        www.stephenwaller.comBrett McGavin could start again in midfield. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

The major talking point heading into these Trophy games is what side Paul Lambert will opt to field.

The Town boss has made his disdain for this competition very clear. He doesn’t like it at the best of times and would be more than happy for it to be mothballed for a year during the coronavirus pandemic.

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But it’s going ahead and there are plenty of his players who will be grateful for the chance to get onto the field.

Elkan Baggott in action against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ross HallsElkan Baggott in action against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ross Halls

That’s true for goalkeeper David Cornell, full-backs Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock and other Ipswich Town fringe players such as Emyr Huws and Keanan Bennetts.

Andre Dozzell is available, with his three-game ban paused and not including this competition, but it surely makes sense for him and the likes of Teddy Bishop to continue a well-earned rest following some heavy lifting during the early weeks of the season.

Young first-teamers Brett McGavin and Corrie Ndaba will be hopeful of more minutes in this game, but Armando Dobra is not available given he’s already flown out for Albania Under 21 duty.

New names

What this competition is really about for Ipswich Town is giving young players opportunities.

Defender Elkan Baggott and midfielder Liam Gibbs both played well when starting against Gillingham last time out and could be involved again, as could striker Tyreece Simpson.

Then the bench spots are up for grabs. Town have used their substitutions to give debuts in this competition, with Zanda Siziba, Allan Viral and Ross Crane getting that honour in the Gillingham game and Tawanda Chirewa, Tommy Smith and Tommy Hughes getting chances last year.

Others hopeful of debuts will be defenders Levi Andoh, Albie Armin and Dylan Crowe, striker Zak Brown, attacker Jack Manly and midfielder Alfie Cutbush, who scored twice in the FA Youth Cup last week.

Alfie Cutbush scores his second goal of the game against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Ross HallsAlfie Cutbush scores his second goal of the game against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Ross Halls

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With an Under 23 game against Coventry being played this afternoon, it’s not impossible an even younger group of players will be given chances on the first-team bench.

Don’t completely rule out the possibility of the club’s youngest player record being broken. It’s currently held by Connor Wickham.

Liam Gibbs celebrates his goal against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLSLiam Gibbs celebrates his goal against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLS

Tired legs

That’s the Town side, now onto the strength of the Crawley Town line-up.

The League Two side will be back on the field just 51 hours after one of the most epic FA Cup games in recent memory finally came to a conclusion, with their visit to Torquay on Sunday ultimately ending in a 6-5 victory after extra-time. The record books will show they played 120 minutes but, a serious head injury suffered by Crawley keeper Tom McGill meant this game included 20 minutes of injury time before the extra 30.

McGill won’t be available for Crawley tonight meaning 39-year-old Stuart Nelson could be between the sticks, after being frantically registered in the build-up to the FA Cup clash.

Tyreece Simpson in a battle with Gillingham skipper Alex MacDonald in the EFL Trophy.     Picture: Steve Waller        www.stephenwaller.comTyreece Simpson in a battle with Gillingham skipper Alex MacDonald in the EFL Trophy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

What impact Sunday’s efforts have on the rest of the Crawley line-up remains to be seen.

Man in charge

Full disclosure, I’d never heard of Crawley manager John Yems until a few weeks ago. But he’s a fascinating character.

I’ve made a point of watching his post-match interviews with his club’s Youtube channel after most of their games this season, with the 61-year-old not putting up with any nonsense.

Zanda Siziba comes on late in injury time for his debut against Gillingham.     Picture: Steve Waller        www.stephenwaller.comZanda Siziba comes on late in injury time for his debut against Gillingham. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

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He’s questioned his players, calls out journalists for ‘stupid questions’ and is very blunt in his assessment of games.

“Do you think I give a monkey’s what people think of our decisions?” he said after a loss at Exeter last month. “They’re our decisions to make. I don’t care what people in the stands say, they can mind their own business.”

He’s clearly doing something right. They’re eighth in League Two and are unbeaten at home in the league all season.

Yems has given assistant Lee Bradbury the chance to lead the team in these games, but he’s sure to be a presence.

This will be a difficult game for Ipswich this evening, regardless of the side they put out.

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