Paul Lambert’s town of Ipswich travels to the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon to face bottom-bottom League One Burton Albion. Here Andy Warren looks to a great game for the blues.
Town came out of their 25-day break in a miserable way when they lost 3-2 at home to relegated Swindon a week ago.
And that put more pressure on Paul Lambert at a time when the Blues manager was already under intense scrutiny due to the stuttering promotion offer of his team.
Much of the fighting in Town revolved around the inability to promote promotion to beat (two wins, one draw and seven losses against the top half teams this season, two wins against the top 10 last season in 18 attempts), with one loss to the team in 23rd now other but equally worrying alarm bells.
It’s the Basement Boys this weekend as Lambert’s men take on a Burton Albion side they didn’t convincingly beat two games ago. The Brewers are sure to offer a banana peel to a team still recovering from their last slip.
Much better is needed, that’s for sure. The city has to start faster, play harder, attack better and defend more resolutely. All very simple, but all true. Ipswich should (and is) more than able to win this game fairly comfortably, but if they don’t improve, losing to the bottom two in the league for two straight weeks is a real possibility.
It will believed Lambert would retain the support of owner Marcus Evans if the town’s injured army returns, but a defeat at Burton would surely be a blow to the town chief’s job security.
The contrast in feeling when you’re on the last visit Looking back from Town in Burton is pretty noticeable.
August 3, 2019 was the day Ipswich took a journey into the unknown as they made their first season in the third division since the 1950s with a mixture of excitement , Nerves, optimism and fear before kick-off began. You could feel it.
Town was recently relegated, but perversely Lambert had created a feel-good factor behind the club and it would be revisionist to propose anything other than the Scots and his team would have the fans behind him.
Luke Garbutt’s debut goal won a nervous game that ended with banned skipper Luke Chambers dumping a trademarked fist pump to an overcrowded ending. It was a signal that better times were ahead. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.
This away game will of course be empty this weekend, and it’s sad to say that at least some of those who would normally have been packed onto the east terrace might be ready to take their side lose when it makes change.
James Norwood levels the 1-1 draw against Swindon. Photo: Steve Waller
– Photo credit: Image: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com
James Norwood and Flynn Downes could start well after breathing life into town at halftime against Swindon when they replaced Aaron Drinan and Emyr Huws, even if neither is fully fit. There is no doubt that they give Ipswich an extra edge.
Lambert could choose to have Toto Nsiala on his side in place of Luke Woolfenden or Mark McGuinness in the middle of a youthful defense, while he also has to choose whether he wants to go on with Kayden Jackson and Armando Dobra in the wide areas or not.
Freddie Sears and Gwion Edwards are potential options there, with the latter just in training while Teddy Bishop and Jon Nolan are working with this week of the first team and could potentially break the bench.
Lambert has steadfastly stuck to a 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 system this season and is unlikely to change this will change.
Could there be any change in destination at all? There’s no real argument in favor of moving from David Cornell to Tomas Holy as the Welshman has been solid enough since taking over the gloves, but we’ve seen Lambert switch sticks in times of crisis in the past.
Town has only played once since they beat Burton in December, and there have been a lot of changes for the Brewers since that day.
Jake Buxton was fired just before the turn of the year and is the former Chelsea and Leeds striker in his place, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as the Dutchman returns to the club he led to the League Two title in 2015.
He has brought in Blackburn defenseman Hayden Carter and Oxford midfielder Sean Clare to strengthen the ranks when they do trying to move away from the drop zone.
His impact was instantaneous and saw a 1-0 win at Gillingham, which resulted in a five-game defeat in which 19 goals conceded while conceding a goal in Priestfield was the club’s first in 36 games.
The performance was anything but classic, it took the lead and held out in the second half, but it was the push they got Brewers needed.
The city is hoping their new manager is already on his way back to earth this weekend.
Town could be in ninth place at kick-off if Sunderland beat Wimbledon on lunch break but as closely as the top 10 of League One are, they could be full-time to fourth if they win at the Pirelli Stadium and results go their way.
The Blues have two more than some teams and two played less than others, with this Covid hit season still having plenty of twists and turns to the left to navigate.
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