The Opposition View: Ipswich

For the last time for a couple of weeks, it’s time to check in with the other side. Ahead of the first ever meeting between the Blues and Blues, here’s Rich Woodward (@IpsRich) on how the pre-season favourites have taken to life in League One after more than half a century in the top two tiers.

You find yourselves in 2nd heading into this one. I don’t think anyone could say they’re surprised to see Ipswich up there, but what have you made of your season so far? Is it fair to say you’re well on track? 

It’s a weird one actually. Town fans are obviously happy with our league position – which despite what most neutrals may think was *not* expected after our calamitous 18/19 campaign – but some are still wary over our performances. We’re yet to put in a full ‘90 min’ display and seem to get the job done in rapid style and sit back, which leads some to query whether we’re a true force or whether League One is just a much weaker standard.

The stop-start nature of our season to date due to international breaks, plus mass squad rotations for the cups, really feels like it has sapped some of our early momentum too.

And yet…! We are in a strong position in the table, with a decent squad on paper (perhaps enough to beat most sides in this league regardless of form) – so maybe I should be more positive?!

How have you found the League One experience as a fan? Has it been an enjoyable novelty, travelling to these much smaller grounds and selling out away ends and then some? Or do you just long for the Championship more and more by the week? 

There is definitely some enjoyment in having new away days after almost two decades of similar fixtures year on year in the Championship. We routinely sell out our away allocation up and down the country (though winning helps!), and those of us ‘doing the 92’ are revelling in being able to easily tick grounds off.

Most of our away days are a sober reminder of where we now find ourselves, though. It’s strange in some cases to make up way more than 10% of the total gate, and shows how far we’ve sunk sadly. Despite the variety and added enjoyment, almost all Town fans are hoping to be back in the second tier this time next year.

Who have been your key players fo far and why? 

The old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” rings true here. Our two game losing ‘blip’ (we hope!) coincided with the absence of: tenacious midfielder Flynn Downes – destined for big things if he maintains his current development; James Norwood – dogged and determined (nasty?!) up front; and [right-back] Kane Vincent-Young – exciting attacking down our right side. Experienced [defender] Luke Chambers and [midfielder] Cole Skuse add steel and know-how to an otherwise quite young squad. [Striker] Kayden Jackson has kicked on after a difficult first season with us in the Championship.

At 34, skipper Chambers is the oldest member of the youthful Town squad

How would you sum up your style of play and how might it have to change to combat us? I think we’re likely to pose a different challenge to most sides you’ve faced this season, not least with the Beast likely to play a part. 

This is part of the conundrum for why ITFC fans are confused by our form – I’m not sure any of us could tell you! Maybe this helps us, as we’re difficult to figure out?

We have generally only drawn against the better teams in the league, and as per my next answer, I see nothing changing against Wycombe.

Early in the season, we played a counter-attacking 4-4-2, with pacey wide players and forwards chasing balls in the channels. After the run of two losses after we had shifted a few games previously to a 3-5-2 (to accommodate more of our many central midfielders), we reverted back to 4-4-2 and found success again. More rotation of late, though, including Blackpool in our last league game, again puts things into doubt. Lambert has a reputation of playing with one up front, so longer term I’d expect us to go for that system. For now, expect our threat to come from the wide positions however we set up – either direct balls for the likes of Kayden Jackson to chase onto, or our wingers (likely two of [Everton loanee] Luke Garbutt, Danny Rowe* or Gwion Edwards) trying to create openings.

*not that one

Last of all, how do you see the game going? Feel free to make a score prediction! 

1-1 – I can’t see either team wanting to lose, but neither good enough to keep a clean sheet!

Photo: Ncadc2004 via Wikimedia Commons. Used under license.

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