|Ipswich Town 3 v 1 Newcastle United|
Monday, 17th April 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Town Face Newcastle Aiming to End Wait for Back-to-Back Wins
Monday, 17th Apr 2017 06:00
Town go into this afternoon’s Sir Bobby Robson Day fixture against Newcastle United still looking to record back-to-back victories for the first time this season. The Blues got their Easter games off to a winning start and all but sealed their Championship status by defeating Burton Albion 2-1 at the Pirelli Stadium on Friday.
But Town boss Mick McCarthy knows it will be a big ask for his team to beat the Magpies, who are second, 33 points ahead of the 15th-placed Blues, Rafa Benitez’s side having comfortably beaten them 3-0 at St James’ Park earlier in the season.
When Newcastle scored in the opening minute before Town had even touched the ball, McCarthy admitted he feared an even heavier defeat.
“I did, and but for some brilliant goalkeeping by Bart as usual and some profligate finishing it could have been,” he said.
“And actually we did all right then in the second half until they got the second goal. They were a good side, they are a good side.
“And so they should be, for heaven’s sake. He’s not spent thrupence ha’penny, has he? He spent, what was it, £15 million on Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle cost £10 million or something. It’s a different ball game that.”
Friday’s 1-1 draw at home to Leeds - ex-Blues loanee Chris Wood netted a late equaliser - means Newcastle can’t secure promotion today whatever today’s scoreline.
McCarthy says the Magpies are being made to work for their return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
“When they beat us I thought they might run away with it,” he reflected. “But knowing the league I probably should have known there would be a lot of upsets and trials and tribulations for them, and for us and for everybody else in the league. It’s just not that easy.
“You get teams that will sit in and stop you playing and play on the break, teams will go and press you and to do it over 46 games and just run away with it is not very easy at all.
“So it’s turned out to be a bit of a scrap for them. They’ve got to come to us and it’s going to be a big occasion with all the other things that are surrounding it because of Sir Bobby, and his family and Lady Elsie will be here. But the reality is that it’s a game for us that we want to win.”
McCarthy may well stick with the team which beat Burton on Friday with Bartosz Bialkowski in goal, Jordan Spence at right-back, Myles Kenlock at left-back and skipper Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra at the centre of the defence.
Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws, Grant Ward and Tom Lawrence are likely to be in a four-man midfield with Newcastle usually operating in a 4-4-1-1 system. David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears will continue up front.
Michael Crowe is again likely to be the sub keeper as he was at Burton with Dean Gerken understood to have suffered a hand injury.
Adam Webster, Luke Hyam (both ankle), Jonas Knudsen (shoulder) and former Newcastle man Steven Taylor (hamstring) remain sidelined.
The Magpies will be without striker Dwight Gayle due to a hamstring injury and manager Benitez will have to decide whether to start former Blue Daryl Murphy or Aleksandar Mitrovic. The latter got the nod against the Whites and seems more likely to get the nod.
Full-back DeAndre Yedlin could start having come off the bench against Leeds following a six-week absence, due to a thigh problem. Central defender Ciaran Clark is not expected to be ready to return after a knee injury.
The visitors just have the edge historically, the Blues having won 16 games between the sides (14 in the league), Newcastle 17 (16) and 15 (13) having ended in draws.
Town last beat Newcastle in April 2001 on Sir Bobby Robson's first return to Portman Road with the Magpies, a Marcus Stewart penalty sealing a 1-0 win.
At St James’ Park in October, Ayoze Perez scored twice and Matt Ritchie once as Newcastle United comfortably beat Town 3-0.
Perez put the home side in front in the opening minute and added the second on 73, before Ritchie netted the third five minutes later. Town went closest to scoring when former Magpie Leon Best hit the bar in the first half.
Last time the teams met at Portman Road was in September 2009 when a Kevin Nolan hat-trick and a freekick from Ryan Taylor condemned Town to a 4-0 home defeat.
Ahead of the match the North Stand was rechristened the Sir Bobby Robson Stand in honour of both clubs’ former manager, who had died earlier in the year.
In addition to Daryl Murphy, who joined the Magpies from Town last August, Jack Colback was on loan with the Blues from Sunderland for the whole of the 2009/10 season and also for a spell in the first half of the following season, making a total of 36 starts and eight sub appearances, scoring five goals.
Leon Best, still officially a Town player but having been told he won’t feature for the club again, was with Newcastle from February 2010 until July 2012, scoring 10 goals in 35 starts and 11 sub appearances.
Sir Bobby Robson Day will see both teams wear T-shirts prior to kick-off which will subsequently be auctioned to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Town’s Academy Association.
Tonight’s referee is Tim Robinson from West Sussex, who has shown 170 yellow cards and nine red in 39 games so far this season.
Robinson’s most recent Town match was the 1-0 win at Aston Villa in February in which he booked only Jonas Knudsen and Toumani Diagouraga.
He also took charge of the 1-0 victory over Preston at Portman Road in August, in which he booked Skuse and one visiting player. Prior to that Robinson refereed the 1-0 win at Derby on the final day of last season and yellow-carded skipper Chambers and Adam McDonnell and two Rams.
Before that he took control of the 2-1 home victory over Reading in February last year in which he booked Berra and two visiting players.
Robinson’s only other competitive Town game was the 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough in December 2015 in which he again cautioned Berra and two visitors.
Before that he refereed the pre-season friendly at Crawley in the summer of 2013 in which he awarded the Blues a penalty, which was converted by McGoldrick in a 2-1 victory.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Crowe, Chambers (c), Kenlock, Emmanuel, Spence, Berra, T Smith, Digby, Huws, Diagouraga, Douglas, Bru, Williams, Bishop, Ward, Rowe, McGoldrick, Lawrence, Sears, Pitman, Samuel, Moore.
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