McCarthy Looking for Return to Winning Home Form Against Cardiff
Friday, 30th Oct 2015 16:07
Town boss Mick McCarthy is looking for his side to get back to winning ways when they face Cardiff City at Portman Road on Saturday and improve on what’s been a disappointing showing on home turf so far this season.
Having won 15 of last season’s 23 Championship matches on Suffolk soil, McCarthy’s men last won at home on August 18th when they defeated Burnley 2-0.
Their only other league victory in their six games at Portman Road so far this season came three days earlier when Sheffield Wednesday were vanquished 2-1.
Overall, the Blues are without a win in their last six league games with their previous three home matches all ending in draws. McCarthy says all of those games might have ended in Town wins.
“We did well to get back in those games and should have gone on to win them, actually,” said McCarthy, whose side also face Bolton at home on Tuesday.
“The chances that we had in the three games, Bristol City, Huddersfield and Birmingham, in the second half we came back into them really well and could have won them and probably should have done.
“But we gave goals away, which is unlike us. They’re disappointing results, we don’t want to lose points at home, it’s always been a strong point.”
McCarthy, who says he has seen signs of improvement in the two recent away performances, particularly at Nottingham Forest where the Blues were only denied victory by Liam Trotter’s 95th minute equaliser, saw Cardiff in action in Monday’s 0-0 draw at home to Bristol City.
“I went to watch them on Monday night, they’re a good side playing off their 4-4-2 formation,” he said.
“They’ve still got good players who remain from the Premier League days. They’ve had to change quite a bit about them but they’re still a very competent team. They’re above us and have been going well.”
He added: “I was asked the other night whether the league is stronger and I think it is. Teams are better, they’re better equipped.
“There are a lot of teams who have played in the Premier League and quite a few of them who have played in the Premier League quite recently, Cardiff one of them. They have got a very good squad.”
With Town having three games in eight days McCarthy says he expects to rotate his squad over the course of those matches.
However, for the Bluebirds visit he seems likely to stick closely to the team which came so near to winning last week.
McCarthy reiterated his post-Forest backing for keeper Dean Gerken at last night’s Supporters Club AGM and seems certain to stick with the former Colchester man in goal, despite criticism of his role in the equaliser.
Jonny Parr will come in at left-back for Jonas Knudsen, who suffered a hamstring injury in the early stages at the City Ground but is expected to be OK for Tuesday’s game against Bolton.
Skipper Luke Chambers is set to continue at right-back with Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra at the heart of the defence.
Cole Skuse is over the ankle problem which forced him off last week and seems set to partner Kevin Bru in a two-man middle of midfield if McCarthy plans to match the visitors’ shape.
Freddie Sears could switch to a wide right role with Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Tommy Oar - who is over the concussion which cut short his full league debut against Huddersfield a fortnight ago - on the left.
Up front, Daryl Murphy is likely to continue his search for his first goal of the season alongside David McGoldrick with Brett Pitman coming off the bench at some stage.
Cardiff boss Russell Slade, whose side is eighth, five places and four points above the Blues, says Town are a decent side despite their recent poor run.
“Ipswich were a real threat last season,” Slade told the Bluebirds official website. “Mick had them in a really good place, with great balance to his team.
“They’ve still got a very good group of players together. You look at their squad and it’s well capable of getting into the top six.
“In order to compete at the top, you need to be difficult to beat at the back, and have threats going forward.
“We’ve lost just four football matches in 23, but we’re working hard on creating chances and having that ruthlessness in the final third.”
Cardiff will be without striker Kenwyne Jones, a scorer for his former loan club Bournemouth against the Blues last season, due to a shin injury. Defender Ben Turner has been out of action since pre-season with an ankle problem.
Midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi is a big doubt having suffered a hamstring injury in Monday’s game against Bristol City, however, Joe Ralls is expected to be back after a hamstring problem.
Town have the upper hand historically, winning 21 (19 in the league), drawing 12 (12) and losing 12 (11).
The Bluebirds are without a defeat in four, although won only one of those matches, a 1-0 home victory over Middlesbrough a fortnight ago. Their most recent away win was a 2-1 victory at Nottingham Forest at the end of August. They have kept a clean sheet in their last three games.
In April at Portman Road, Freddie Sears, Cole Skuse and Daryl Murphy were on target for the Blues as they won 3-1 to cement their position in the play-off places.
Sears put Town ahead after eight minutes and Eoin Doyle equalised for the Welshmen before Cole Skuse lashed in a 30-yard stunner on 29 - his first and still only goal for the Blues - then Murphy sealed the victory in second-half injury time.
In October, the Blues’ undefeated run was halted at eight games as Cardiff came from a goal down to win 3-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Daryl Murphy put Town ahead with a brilliant strike in the 29th minute, Peter Whittingham equalised with a similarly special effort on 37, before Federico Macheda netted two minutes after the break and Adam Le Fondre added the third on 69.
Cardiff midfielder Stuart O’Keefe was an academy schoolboy with Town, while the Bluebirds' Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson had a trial with the Blues' youth set-up when also a schoolboy.
Bluebirds central defender Semi Ajayi, who is back with his parent club after a spell on loan at AFC Wimbledon, was on trial with the Blues in January when he played a game for the U21s, coincidentally against Cardiff.
Town centre-half Josh Yorwerth, who is currently on loan at Crawley, joined Town after being released by the Bluebirds in the summer following a trial at the end of last season.
Blues U21s coach and former left-back Mark Kennedy joined Town from Cardiff in the summer of 2010 for £75,000.
Town U18s coach Alan Lee was also with the Bluebirds before moving to Portman Road in January 2006 for £100,000.
Saturday’s referee is David Coote from Nottinghamshire, who has shown 32 yellow cards and two red in eight games so far this season.
Coote's most recent Town match was the 2-2 draw with Brentford on the opening day when he booked only Bees' midfielder Jota.
Coincidentally, he was also in control for the 3-1 defeat at Cardiff last October in which he booked Tyrone Mings and two home players.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 2-1 defeat on the opening day of the 2013/14 season and the 3-1 home loss to Wigan later that season.
During the previous campaign he took control of he 2-1 defeat at Hull and the 3-0 home victory over Millwall.
Town squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Chambers (c), Parr, Emmanuel, Berra, Smith, Malarczyk, Skuse, Douglas, Bru, Coke, McDonnell, Maitland-Niles, Touré, Oar, Sears, Pitman, Murphy, McGoldrick.
Photo: Action Images
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