|Ipswich Town 0 v 0 Doncaster Rovers|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 14th September 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Town Look to Return to Top as Doncaster Visit
Friday, 13th Sep 2019 11:32
Town face Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road on Saturday aiming to extend their winning run to five games and looking to return to the top of League One.
The Blues ended August top of the division by two points but dropped to third a point behind current leaders Wycombe and Coventry last week with their game at Rochdale having been postponed due to international calls.
The Chairboys are at Gillingham on Saturday, while the Sky Blues travel to Burton Albion.
Town last won five in a row at the start of 2017/18, a run which included one cup match like the current streak of four victories, last week’s 2-1 defeat of Tottenham’s U21s in the Leasing.com Trophy.
Asked whether he believes last weekend’s break will have done his players good after a busy August, Manager of the Month Paul Lambert said: “Nobody knows until that ball’s kicked on Saturday. But we’ll be ready for the game, the atmosphere’s going to be great again and we have to try and make the running. It’ll be a difficult game but we’re playing well.”
The Blues boss says he personally didn’t get any downtime during the break: “No, I never switch off. I don’t switch off really, I don’t go anywhere. I went and watched a game, that’s the life of a football manager.”
Doncaster, who beat Rotherham 2-1 at home last Saturday, are seventh in League One, three points behind the Blues, having played only five games - four of them at home - while Wycombe and Coventry have completed seven and Town six.
Rovers, along with the Blues, Chairboys and Sky Blues, are one of four teams still to be defeated in League One this season.
Lambert says it will be difficult game, as they all are: “I think every game’s tough. I like [manager] Darren [Moore], I’ve got a lot of time for Darren, the job he did at West Brom and I think he was harshly treated up there.
“He’s gone to Doncaster and has done well, they’ve made a good start so it’ll be a tough game but I think for them it’s also a tough game.”
He says it came as a big surprise when Moore was sacked by the Baggies straight after the Blues’ 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns in March.
“It was a shock because I think they were in the play-offs,” he recalled. “It just shows you football management is a crazy game.”
Town got off to the perfect start in their last home league game against Shrewsbury, taking the lead via Kayden Jackson in the second minute and then doubling their lead via a James Norwood penalty on 10 on the way to their 3-0 victory.
“If we win, that’s the most important thing,” Lambert said when asked if he was looking for a similar start on Saturday.
“If we keep the level that we're playing at at the minute, which is really high, with the support we've got behind us then we've got a chance.”
Saturday’s match is the first of three in eight days with a visit to the MK Dons on Tuesday and then Gillingham next Saturday to follow.
Quizzed on whether he plans to shuffle his pack over the three matches, Lambert said: “We’ll have to wait and see what happens on Saturday and then Tuesday and then Saturday.
“We’ll wait and see, but it doesn’t matter who I play, I expect people to perform the same as the guys who have been playing. And to be fair, everyone of them have gone in there have done that.”
Tomas Holy will continue in goal with Kane Vincent-Young and Myles Kenlock again set to be the full-backs.
Lambert seems likely to start skipper Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden at the centre of the defence, although given his rotation policy James Wilson will probably appear in at least one of the games over the next eight days, although Toto Nsiala could also soon be in contention having played 60 minutes for the U23s on Monday.
In midfield, Cole Skuse will be alongside Flynn Downes in the centre, while Alan Judge seems set to be on the left and Gwion Edwards or Danny Rowe on the right.
Norwood and Jackson - scorers of five and four goals respectively already this season - will again form a two-man attack.
Luke Garbutt is back in training after his knee injury and seems likely to be on the bench as will Jon Nolan, while there appears a chance that Will Keane could also be in the 18 for the first time since returning to the club last month.
Doncaster boss Moore was appointed manager at the Keepmoat Stadium in July after they had been beaten by Charlton in the League One play-off semi-finals having finished sixth in the table.
Moore will be taking charge of only his second League One away game of the season, their match with now-expelled Bury having been cancelled and their fixture at Bolton postponed at short notice. They drew 1-1 at Rochdale in their only game away from the Keepmoat Stadium so far during 2019/20.
“Since I’ve arrived, we’ve only had a couple of away games, the cup match [a 1-0 defeat at Grimsby in the Carabao Cup] and one league game at Rochdale so this will be a bit different getting on the road but we’re looking forward to it,” Moore told the Rovers official site.
“We’ve got some good opposition to look forward to on Saturday, they’ve had a great start to the season, they’re a team in the ascendancy, they’ve got a lot of good players and they’ve just come down from the Championship so they’re strong.
“It’s a wonderful arena at Portman Road so I look forward to getting down there with the team.”
He added: “It’s a tough game on Saturday. Both clubs have had solid starts to the season. Everyone has them down as favourites to return to the Championship because of their resources and players.
“It will be a tough test for us, but these are the games we should look forward to. We want to play these teams and go into battle with them.
“I look forward to seeing Paul Lambert on Saturday, he’s a fantastic bloke. Ipswich have got aspirations of making an immediate return to the Championship and Paul has vast experience, a wonderful career, and it doesn’t surprise me where the club is and how the team is operating.”
Historically, Town have had the better of Rovers, winning eight games between the teams (seven in the league), drawing four (four) and losing four (three).
The last time the teams met was at the Keepmoat Stadium in a Capital One Cup tie in August 2015 when extra-time goals from David McGoldrick, debutant sub James Alabi, playing what would ultimately prove to be his only game for the club, and Ryan Fraser saw the Blues to a 4-1 victory and into the third round for the first time in five years.
In normal time Andy Williams had put the home side in front in the 23rd minute with Brett Pitman equalising for Town on 58.
Town's last league game against Doncaster was a 2-1 Championship win at Portman Road in April 2014 when Daryl Murphy and skipper Chambers scored either side of Chris Brown's penalty for Doncaster.
At the Keepmoat Stadium on Boxing Day 2013 the Blues ran out 3-0 victors - goals from McGoldrick (2) and Chambers - with Rovers on their way to relegation from the Championship.
The Doncaster squad includes Alex Kiwomya, nephew of Blues legend Chris, while Rovers’ goalkeeper-coach is Paul Gerrard, who had a spell on loan at Portman Road between November and December 2002 making five starts.
Veteran midfielder James Coppinger was targeted by former Town boss Paul Jewell on several occasions during his time in charge of the Blues.
Saturday’s referee is Ollie Yates from Staffordshire, who has shown 13 yellow cards and one red in five games so far this season. Yates will be refereeing his first Town game.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, Garbutt, El Mizouni, Rowe, Georgiou, Dobra, Jackson, Norwood, Roberts, Keane.
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