|Bristol City 1 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Tuesday, 12th March 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Lambert: Until Someone Says It's Mathematically Over, It's Never Over
Monday, 11th Mar 2019 13:16
Town boss Paul Lambert has reiterated that the Blues, who travel to face Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday, aren’t going to give up on their Championship status while staying up still remains mathematically possible (Sky Sports Football/Main Event from 7pm/7.30pm).
Lambert believes his side, who remain 12 points plus goal difference from safety following Saturday’s impressive 1-1 draw at West Brom, should have beaten Bristol City when they met in Suffolk back in November.
Lambert’s team were 1-0 and 2-1 up against the Robins but after Freddie Sears had netted his second goal of the game in the 58th minute immediately conceded a leveller then within five minutes allowed the visitors to net the winning goal.
“I thought we played a really good game,” Lambert recalled. “I thought in the first half especially we were excellent and should have put the game out of sight.
“And then we made silly errors, but again performance-wise it was excellent. We have got guys on form, Saturday was another game for Teddy Bishop, he came off with a kick in his calf, we’ve got to watch him, he’s not played many games over the last two years.
“But the level of performances, we go to try and win. We don’t sit back, we’ll go and play the way we can and we go and try and win the game.
“If we win that, it’s not over. Until somebody says it’s mathematically over, it’s never over, you have to keep going and, as I said before, we don’t look like a team at the bottom of the table.”
Bristol City were in 16th going into that match but pushed on following that victory, going on an impressive run of 15 games unbeaten in all competitions - including a remarkable nine-match winning streak - and go into Tuesday’s game sitting in seventh, a point from the play-offs, although without a win in their last five in all competitions, losing four.
“You can’t say the turning point in their season was because they beat us, that’s silly, but good luck to them,” Lambert added.
“I’ve got nothing against Bristol City, they have had a good season. Maybe they’ll make it in the play-offs, maybe they don’t, my main concern is us going there to win, and we’ll go and try everything we can to try and win.”
Lambert said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at West Brom that he had planned to start Collin Quaner against the Baggies and then Kayden Jackson on Tuesday.
Quaner limped off at half-time at The Hawthorns meaning Jackson played a greater part than expected and impressed his manager.
“That’s the best he’s been,” he said. “I thought he was excellent. I thought his running, his belief was more there.
“I think he’s got attributes, Kayden. He’s quick and he does finish, he can finish. I think that performance from him will do him the world of good.”
Lambert says he’ll need to utilise the full extent of his squad in the remaining 10 games of the season.
“I think we need to look at that sometimes,” he said. “It’s very difficult to play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday and one guy has 30 games and one guy has eight.
“It’s difficult, you have to get a balance right where we can do that. You have to plan it right where we can do it. The pleasing thing for me is that the club’s on the right road.”
In terms of players returning from illness and injury, Lambert said he wasn’t sure whether James Collins, who suffered a calf problem in the Reading match, will be back to face the Robins, however, assistant manager Stuart Taylor says everybody, including Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Flynn Downes and Matthew Pennington (both ill at the weekend) trained on Sunday and look set to make the trip to the South West.
"Everybody trained yesterday," Taylor told iFollow Ipswich. "We came in yesterday and did our recovery session and a top-up session for the lads that weren't involved at the weekend.
"Everybody came through it very well and there wasn't anybody that didn't complete the session so we're happy.
"There's a few little knocks but with three games in the space of a week there will possibly be a couple of changes just to freshen things up. There's no concerns and there's nobody we're overly worried about.”
Lambert will continue with Bartosz Bialkowski, who put in one of his best displays of the season at The Hawthorns, in goal with the back four probably remaining the same - from the right James Bree, skipper Luke Chambers, Jonas Knudsen and Myles Kenlock - unless Collins is fit.
In midfield, Chalobah could replace Skuse if he’s considered ready for a return, while Lambert may rest Bishop with Downes starting if he’s well enough.
Alan Judge and Gwion Edwards are likely to continue in the wide roles with Jackson starting down the middle. Ellis Harrison could be fit enough to return to the bench having returned to training after his hamstring injury.
Bristol City's assistant head coach Jamie McAllister believes the Robins are well in the battle for a place in the top six.
“We’re one point from the play-offs, 11 games to play and it’s in our hands,” he told his club's official site.
“It’s a great position, we have to be positive and have a go at Ipswich who are in a difficult position and make sure we come out of it with three points.
“We know they can cause problems, they are fighting for their lives so it’s not an easy game.
"We just have to get back to doing what we do well, make sure eight or nine of our players are back on the top of their game to put on the performance to get the three points.”
He added: “We always focus on the next game and that’s at home against Ipswich. We need to get our own home form where it should be and it’s important to get the win tomorrow.
"After that we have a break, followed by 10 games in 35 days but I would have bitten your hand off at the start of the season to be in this position. The lads have to relish it, enjoy it and bring out their best.”
The Robins are without goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa who has a calf injury and youngtser Max O'Leary will continue to deputise.
Midfielder Korey Smith is back in training after a knee ligament injury but the former Canary won't be ready to face the Blues.
Historically, Town have the edge, winning 29 (27 in the league), losing 23 (23) and drawing 13 (13). However, the Blues have won just one of their last nine against Bristol City.
In November at Portman Road, Sears scored two goals but Bristol City came from behind twice to beat the Blues 3-2, extending bottom-of-the-table Town’s all-time record home winless run to 12 matches.
Sears put the Blues in front in the 32nd minute but a Bialkowski own goal levelled the scores 10 minutes after the break.
Sears’s second of the evening restored the lead on 58 but a minute later Jamie Paterson equalised for a second time before sub Famara Diedhiou won it for the visitors, who ended a run of four successive defeats.
The teams last met at what was a snowy and windy Ashton Gate in March last year when sub Milan Djuric netted the only goal in the 64th minute as the Blues fell to their first away defeat in six matches. Djuric headed home Lloyd Kelly’s left-wing cross shortly after coming off the bench.
Skuse moved to the Blues from his hometown club, who he had joined as a schoolboy, following their relegation in the summer of 2013 after making 245 starts and 62 sub appearances, and scoring nine times.
Keeper Dean Gerken also left Ashton Gate the same summer, joining the Blues after a trial during pre-season ahead of 2013/14, having made 60 appearances for the Robins after signing from Colchester in July 2009.
Blues defender Spence spent two spells on loan with the Robins, a two-month stint at the end of the 2010/11 season and then the whole of the following campaign at Ashton Gate. In total he made 21 starts and one sub appearance without scoring.
Central defender Adam Webster joined the Robins from the Blues in the summer having made 48 starts and five sub appearances, scoring once, in two years at Portman Road.
City boss Johnson, a close friend of Skuse’s from their playing days together at Ashton Gate, was born in Suffolk during his father Gary’s time as a player with Newmarket Town.
Tuesday’s referee is Darren Bond from Lancashire, who has shown 82 yellow cards and five red in 28 games so far this season.
Bond’s last Town game was the 2-2 draw at Reading in November in which he yellow-carded Chambers, Jordan Spence and one Royal.
Prior to that he refereed the 1-1 home draw with Brentford in September last year in which he booked Knudsen and two Bees.
He was also in charge of the 4-2 home victory over Nottingham Forest in December 2017 in which he cautioned Callum Connolly, Martyn Waghorn and two visiting players.
Before that he officiated in the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham in December 2016 in which he yellow-carded Blues skipper Chambers and Christophe Berra.
Before that he took control of the 2-2 home draw with Rotherham a couple of months earlier in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
He was also the man in the middle for the 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough in April of the same year in which he cautioned Luke Hyam and former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter.
Bond officiated in the 1-0 win at Huddersfield three months earlier in which he yellow-carded Chambers, Brett Pitman and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as well as one home player.
He also refereed the dramatic last-gasp 1-0 victory at Charlton in November 2014 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Two months before that he took control of the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday when he booked only two home players, while his only other match involving the Blues was the 2-2 draw at Barnsley in February of the same year in which he again showed no cards.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Bree, Emmanuel, Spence, Kenlock, Pennington, Collins, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Dawkins, Judge, Quaner, Jackson, Harrison.
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