It's time for Ipswich Town to make Portman Road a fortress in first of '18 cup finals' in bid for promotion
PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 January 2020
Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert knows his side need to improve their home form as they bid to come on strong in their bid for automatic promotion.
Of the Blues' 18 remaining League One games, 11 will be played at home, starting with today's visit of Lincoln City.
While Ipswich are League One's best side on the road, Portman Road hasn't been a particularly happy hunting ground for Lambert's side this season. They have won just four of their 11 home games to date, which leaves them 19th in the third-tier 'home table' but are buoyed by an impressive 4-1 victory over Accrington Stanley last time out.
This afternoon's game proceeds a run of three successive games against promotion contenders, in the form of Rotherham (a), Peterborough (h) and Sunderland (a), with Lambert knowing his third-placed side must pick things up in Suffolk as the season heads towards the home stretch.
"We're in a really good position with it but we've not performed as well at home as we'd have liked to," the Town boss admitted.
"It could be anything, even the expectancy level of the crowd. You have to remember this is the first time many of the players have played in front of a crowd expecting to win every single week, normally they're not used to that. They've mastered it away from home.
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"We've played well at home without getting the rewards we maybe deserved so we have to keep at it.
"We have big games and big crowds coming up which is what you want to play in front of. We're in a great position and are playing well so we have to ask the lads to keep it going."
The 5-3 defeat at the hands of Lincoln in December prompted a frank exchange in the Ipswich dressing room at Sincil Bank, with captain Luke Chambers insisting the Imps will be seeing a different Town side this afternoon following a strong start to 2020.
"There are ways to lose games of football but that wasn't one of them. It wasn't anywhere near acceptable all over the pitch," Chambers said, in his column for today's matchday programme.
"We had a long chat in the dressing-room after the final whistle that day. There comes a time in every season when you lose a game and things need to be said. They were said and we have seen a reaction. We took our medicine and we have responded. Our performances have certainly improved since that defeat.
"I think we were a bit hesitant in the way we were playing when we had that disappointing run. We have put that aside now since the turn of the year and we're really giving it a go to win games and force the issue.
"I think Lincoln will find we are a different team from the one they played a month back. A lot has happened in those four weeks. We certainly look far more of a threat now.
"We're in a good position but we have 18 massive games left. People have said that when teams play Ipswich, it's their cup final, well let's flip that on its head and say Ipswich Town have 18 cup finals left."