|Ipswich Town 3 v 0 Shrewsbury Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 31st August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: It’s Going to Take a Good Team to Beat Us
Friday, 30th Aug 2019 15:19
Boss Paul Lambert believes it’s going to take a good team to beat his top of the table Blues, who face Shrewsbury Town at Portman Road on Saturday still unbeaten in League One.
Lambert’s side, who lead the division on goal difference ahead of four other teams also on 11 points, will be looking to win three games on the trot for the first time since the opening month of the 2017/18 campaign.
“I don’t pay too much attention to it,” Lambert said when asked about the league table five games in.
“I know we’re playing well and there’s a good feeling around the club and I know everybody wants us to do well. Everybody is going the same way but at the moment the league table is irrelevant.”
Lambert is keen for his side to play on the front foot and set the tone from the very start of games, as they have done in their best performances this season, at Burton on the opening day and at home to Sunderland the following weekend.
“All the teams I’ve had have been like that, get the crowd going, excite people, use the emotion of the crowd, use everything in your power to get the crowd going,” he reflected.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, if you get that crowd going it’s too many people. It’s not as if we’re playing in front of three or four thousand people, we play in front of 20,000-plus.
“We have a massive support behind us, we have to excite them and hopefully that’s what’s happening.
“You are exciting them because we’re getting more and more people into the game. You’re getting a vibrant fanbase who are coming and really, really enjoying the atmosphere and the game.”
He felt in the opening 45 minutes of the from-behind 2-1 home win against AFC Wimbledon his team was too passive: “The Wimbledon game, it was only the first half that I was disappointed with.
“The Bolton game, it was a difficult game. There was a surreal atmosphere because of the situation and I knew that was always going to be that way.
“I knew it was always going to pan out that way. We had so many chances, to go in at 1-0 I didn’t think was good enough for the chances we had.
“Second half was what it was, the second half against Wimbledon was unreal with the support.
“Against Burton we came out of the traps, against Sunderland we certainly came out of the traps, so there’s a lot of games where we have come out of the traps. The Wimbledon one, probably in the first half, we didn’t.”
Lambert has stated on a number of occasions that his team will lose games here and there this season, is that just to temper expectation? “If we go through the season unbeaten, my God, it would be unbelievable.
“It might happen, it might not happen, but the likelihood is that we will lose games. There will be bumps along the way, that’s normal. I’ve never had a season where I’ve not been beaten. I’d love to have one to see what it’s like, but I’ve never had one.
“That’s football, that’s why it’s a great, great game. If you win more than you lose you tend to find you’re going to be there or thereabouts.”
But given the Blues’ size in the division and the manner in which they have started the season, he must feel they are capable of beating anyone on their day?
“It’s going to take a good team to beat us, that’s for sure,” he admitted. “The way we’re playing and the energy we have. It’s going to take a good team to beat us.”
As in the game with AFC Wimbledon, the Blues seem likely to have to take a patient approach against the Shrews, who have conceded only three goals in their five games so far, although all of them in their two away games.
“We need everybody and as I said before, at half-time against Wimbledon you could hear the grumblings because we were losing 1-0,” Lambert recalled.
“You can’t just expect teams to come here and roll over. We have to earn the right and it’s going to be really tough.
“But we’re playing well and the support at the club is unbelievable. You heard it against Wimbledon, away at Peterborough, home to Sunderland, away to Burton.
“You can go through them all – Bolton – and the support at the club is huge. It’s getting bigger and bigger and it’s getting more aggressive, the support they’re giving, so all I would ask is a wee bit of patience if things don’t go our way.”
Does he expect more teams visiting Portman Road to dig in and sit behind the ball with Town having to work out a way through? “That’s it, that’s the game. If we have the same atmosphere we had against Wimbledon and Sunderland then we’re not going to go far wrong.
“That will drive you on and if we keep having the momentum we’ve got it will be exciting.”
He added: “It’s up to the opposition how they want to play. But when we do encounter that we have to be the way we were in the second half against Wimbledon.
“The stats show they had one shot at goal and scored and then it gives us the problem of trying to break them down.
“You get the grumblings at half-time, where maybe the lads need just a bit more patience or an attitude of ‘We can turn this around’.
“The second half was relentless and the fans were fantastic. You might encounter a lot of games like that but it’s up to us to try to break them down.”
Lambert knows Shrewsbury boss Sam Ricketts having invited him along to training when he was in charge at Wolves.
“Sam came in and I know he did well,” Lambert recalled. “He’s a nice lad making his way in the game and I think it’s good, a young guy, a young coach finding his feet – but we have to win.
“I don’t know how many games I’ve had [as a manager] – 600 or 700 games? I’m not sure but I’ve been doing it for a long time and I think that’s important. I still do it myself, going away to watch different teams training and see different ideas.
“Sam asked if he could come in and it’s not a problem. I tend to help younger guys who ask if they can come in.”
Lambert expects the crowd to play their part against the Shrews: “The support is unbelievable and I’ll always reference it. That crowd has totally swung from when I first came in here.
“When I watched that Middlesbrough game [last season just before he took charge] I’d have rather stuck needles into my eyelids than watch that. There was no atmosphere, there was nothing there, nothing.
“As I’ve said before, the fans were tired and didn’t really want to criticise because I think they were tired of booing. There was nothing there.
“My God, now, it is absolutely phenomenal. It’s proper, it’s proper now, this is what you want, this is what you strive for, to have that atmosphere and I thank each and every one of the fans for giving us support and turning it around.
“As I’ve said before, they needed us and we needed them, that’s where it has come together. That first time, when I saw the Middlesbrough game on TV, I thought ‘That’s not football’.”
A key element of Lambert’s side this season has been central midfield pair Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes and the manager has been delighted with their performances.
“Really good, I think they have started the season really well and I know what both of them can do,” he said. “At this minute they are performing at the top of their level.
Might Downes, 20, need a rest at some stage? “As I’ve said before I don’t think any player in this team will play 60-odd games. There’s no chance, it’s not going to happen.
“Listen, I need to be fair to everybody else because I trust them, when they play, to perform. If they don’t perform it’s easy for me to leave them out again. I wouldn’t expect any player at the football club to play 60-odd games.”
Luke Woolfenden was left out of the defence at Bolton last week after an impressive start to the campaign, again as Lambert rotated his squad.
“It’s not hard at all,” the Blues manager insisted when asked if that was a difficult decision. “I pick the team and whoever I leave out has to accept it.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s either of the two Lukes or James [Wilson]. Toto [Nsiala] is coming back so he’ll need games.
“We’ll need everybody and as I’ve said before you have to sacrifice the ‘me’ for the ‘we’. That’s the secret.”
Despite his rotation policy, Lambert’s side against the Shrews is unlikely to stray too far from the one which thrashed Bolton 5-0 last week.
Tomas Holy will be in goal with Kane Vincent-Young making his home debut at right-back with Myles Kenlock on the left.
Woolfenden could come back into the team for Wilson alongside skipper Luke Chambers, the former Lincoln man having played the last two matches.
In midfield, Skuse and Downes will again be in the middle with Alan Judge on the left and Gwion Edwards or Danny Rowe on the right.
James Norwood and Kayden Jackson, who both scored twice against the Trotters last week, will again be the front pairing.
Jon Nolan could be on the bench in League One for the first time this season against his old club.
Shrewsbury boss Ricketts says the Blues are starting to learn what League One is all about.
“Ipswich are finding that there are no easy games, they have to work extremely hard, they realised that when they played Wimbledon earlier and they had to dig deep to get a last-minute winner against them,” he told Shrewsweb.
“We’ll go there full of confidence, knowing that if we perform to the level that we know we can do then we’re more than capable of getting a result.
“It’s a nice ground, good pitch and a good atmosphere so that’s something to look forward to a bit like Sunderland last year, it’s somewhere good to play football.”
He added: “We’re not approaching the game any differently. They’re a good side with some good players.
“They’ve got really good strength and depth. I think they played Tuesday and Saturday and made five or six changes from one game to the next so it just shows what they’ve got which will be really big for them this year.
“That means going into the game we’re not quite sure who they’re going to play, they’ve also changed formation a little but. We’ll just prepare for us, make sure we’re ready and whatever Ipswich decide to do we’ll be prepared and ready for our game.”
Shrewsbury have made a decent start to the season and are ninth having won two, drawn two and lost only one of their first five League One games. Away from home they have won one and lost one. They exited the Carabao Cup via a 1-0 defeat away against the MK Dons.
Their current tally of eight points is their second best in their history after five games in League One.
“We do set targets and try to break it down,” Ricketts continued. “We haven’t gone into too much detail at the moment as the start of the season is really hard to gauge where you should and could be at.
“Our aim is to always improve but eight points from the first five is a really good start but we must build on this now, we know we can and we will get better.
“When all the players are back they’ll get a better understanding of where are the players are at as well.
“I think we’ve seen really good aspects of the game improve even amongst those five games, so another five or ten games we’ll see even more aspects our what we’re trying to achieve.”
He says the week, a rare one without an evening game, has been hampered by players recovering from knocks.
“Normally you look forward to a free week of training and you can implement what you want to do. Unfortunately, it’s been more about recuperation than anything else,” he said.
“We’ve been depleted because of injuries and that hasn’t stopped this week. Yes we’ve been able to train and get bits in but ultimately we’ve been trying to get everyone fit and healthy.”
Forward Fejiri Okenabirhie has a hamstring injury and is out of Saturday’s match, but midfielder Sean Goss will be assessed and could return after an ankle problem.
Another midfielder, Romain Vincelot, could also be involved after a neural injury affecting his hip and leg.
Midfielder Ollie Norburn (knee) and defender Ro-Shaun Williams (hamstring) are back in training but won’t be ready to face the Blues.
The Shrews will wear a hastily-arranged third kit of white shirts, purple shorts and white socks after referee Trevor Kettle informed them he felt there was a clash between Town's blue and the visitors' purple second kit shirts on Wednesday afternoon.
The EFL had expressed no such concerns in the summer so Shrewsbury were forced to ask kit suppliers Admiral for a third strip at short notice.
Obviously our blue and amber home kit is also unable to be worn, however Official Kit Suppliers, Admiral have supplied us at very short notice with a white shirt to be worn with purple shorts and white socks.
Historically, Town have had much the better of matches between the two sides, winning 12 games, losing three and drawing nine.
Last time the teams met was in a Carling Cup tie in August 2009 at what was then known as the Prostar Stadium when Town won only their second ever penalty shoot-out, their first in 18 years which still remains their most recent victory via spot-kicks.
The game had ended 3-3 with Connor Wickham (2) and Alan Quinn scoring for the Blues, but Town ran out 4-2 winners from the spot in what would prove to be keeper Shane Supple’s final game before his surprise retirement aged only 24 nine days later.
Shrewsbury were most recently at Portman Road, where they have never won, in March 1989 in what was then the Second Division, the most recent league meeting, with the Blues winning 2-0. Earlier that season at the Shropshire club’s former home Gay Meadow the Blues thrashed the Shrews 5-1.
The most famous meetings between the clubs came at Gay Meadow when it was the scene of two of Town's greatest FA Cup disasters.
In 1981/82 Sir Bobby's Robson's side lost 2-1 to the Shrews in the fifth round, Steve Cross and Jake King scoring for the home side and Mich D'Avray for the Blues.
Two years later, Shrewsbury repeated the trick a round earlier by beating Bobby Ferguson's Town 2-0 via goals from Gary Hackett and Colin Robinson.
Town were last beaten by the Shrews in an old Second Division game at Gay Meadow in January 1987 when Bobby Ferguson’s side were defeated 2-1.
Nolan and Nsiala followed their former Shrews manager Paul Hurst, his assistant Chris Doig and other members of his staff to Portman Road last summer having been part of the side which had reached the League One play-offs the previous season.
Nolan moved to Montgomery Waters Meadow in June 2017 and made 55 starts in his one season there, scoring 10 goals.
Nsiala signed in January 2017 and made 79 starts in his 18 months with the Shrews, scoring four times. No current Shrews player has been with Town.
Saturday’s referee is Trevor Kettle from Rutland, who has shown 11 yellow cards and two red in four games so far this season.
Kettle’s most recent Town match was the 2-1 win at Fulham in December 2015 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Before that, he was the man in the middle for the 4-4 draw at Derby in October 2013 in which he five Blues and one home player.
Prior to that he took charge of the 1-1 draw at Barnsley in September 2012 when he again booked five Town players.
He also officiated in the 2-1 win at Burnley in April 2011 when he showed seven yellow cards in total, four to Blues.
Overall, Town have lost just one of their 13 games when Kettle has taken charge, back in August 2006 when they were beaten 1-0 at Wolves despite the home side having been reduced to 10 men.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Donacien, Vincent-Young, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, El Mizouni, Rowe, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood, Roberts.
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