|Rochdale 0 v 1 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 5th November 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Town Visit Rochdale Aiming to Return to Top
Monday, 4th Nov 2019 14:24
Town visit Rochdale for the first ever fixture between the clubs on Tuesday looking to return to the top of League One and for their seventh away victory of the campaign.
The Blues dropped to second following the weekend matches, three points behind Wycombe Wanderers but with two games in hand on the Chairboys. Town also have a better goal difference.
Gareth Ainsworth’s men aren’t in action on Tuesday, although Peterborough, third, two points behind the Blues, again having played two more games, are away at Shrewsbury.
Town visit Spotland for the first time in their history with the best away record in League One, having won six, drawn one - away against Posh - and lost just the once, at Accrington towards the end of last month.
Manager Paul Lambert has spoken a lot about the Blues, as a side more associated with the top two divisions, having a target on their backs when they visit clubs in League One, but so far that hasn’t appeared to have had an impact with Town having picked up more points away - 19 - than they have at home where they have claimed 11, although having played two more games on the road up to now.
It doesn’t matter, home or away it’s a big club,” the Blues boss said. “You look at all the results over the weekend with big clubs, it’s difficult, but we’ve got that because of the size of the club and the size of the fanbase. But our form a the moment is really good.”
Games such as the trips to Gillingham, Fleetwood, Southend and Accrington have largely been battles rather than free-flowing footballing affairs, the sort of games in which many might have felt the Blues might have struggled. However, with the exception of the Stanley game the Blues have come out on top.
“I think we’ve started games really well,” Lambert reflected. “I think we’ve been aggressive with the game, not physically but aggressive the way we play, and it’s important to start really well.
“And every game we’ve started well we’ve gone on to win and I think that’s an important thing. So we have to start well and if we do that hopefully we get another good result. But I'm really happy with our form at this moment.”
Those tight grounds with cup-tie style atmospheres when the Blues visit appear to have had little effect on Town.
“I think that’s because we play in front of a big crowd ourselves at home,” Lambert considered.
“But even when we go away from home, the crowds are huge because our own crowd are coming in their thousands.
“I think we’re used to that now, the expectance level of playing in front of big crowds and playing under the pressure and the lads have handled it brilliantly, they really have. They’ve done ever so well to keep that mentality going and they’re in a good place.”
Lambert again played down the stop-start nature of the campaign with the Blues again without a fixture on Saturday with expelled Bury having been due to visit. Tuesday’s game is a rearranged match from September which the Town manager chose to have postponed due to international call-ups.
“No, because I’m not superstitious. I don’t worry about anything, I only focus on our team and that will always be the case,” he insisted.
“I’ve told you before, if you go into any fight, you go in with your strongest armoury, if we don’t have players for one reason or another, if there’s knocks flying around the place or viruses flying around the place or lads or away with their national teams.
“If you go into any fight, you go with your best team or your best bench, and my thinking won’t change.
“It doesn’t matter if you play on a Monday, a Sunday or every day of the week, you know you’ve got to go try and win.
“My thought process has never changed and never has done, and I’ll always keep that frame of mind whenever we play whatever day it is we’ll go and try and win.”
He added: “Any league you’re in is tough, it doesn’t matter what it is. We’re doing really well at the minute if you take out the cup competition we’ve been beaten twice all season.
“It’s a helluva mentality change from what it was last year, so the way the guys are going playing really well with a lot of confidence from everybody and we’ll be ready for this one tomorrow.”
Regarding Rochdale, he added: “A really good football side. I know they’ve had a bit of a sticky time with certain results, but it’s a hard game.
“Again, we go up there and the onus will be on us to go and try and win, and I think they’ve had a decent little start and I think they’re a good football side.”
Will Norris is again likely to get the nod in goal with Lambert forced into at least a couple of changes elsewhere in his team.
The Town manager could well opt to switch back to a 3-5-2 system given the absentees from his squad and Rochdale usually playing a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3 formation.
That would probably see skipper Luke Chambers joined by Luke Woolfenden and James Wilson in the back three with Gwion Edwards the most likely candidate to replace the injured Kane Vincent-Young at right wing-back. Luke Garbutt will be on the left.
In midfield, Lambert will hope Cole Skuse is over the groin problem which forced him off at Southend with the Bristolian likely to be joined by Jon Nolan and either Emyr Huws or Andre Dozzell with Flynn Downes banned for one match having reached five bookings.
Strike-pair James Norwood and Kayden Jackson will continue up front, both looking to add to their seven goals so far this season. Rochdale, who were beaten 2-1 at home by Bristol Rovers on Saturday having lost 3-0 at Oxford the previous weekend, are currently 14th in the table.
Manager Brian Barry-Murphy is after a reaction to the defeat to the Pirates but knows they’re in for a tough evening.
"We are coming up against one of the top teams in the league,” he told the official Dale site.
“It is a great chance for us to test ourselves and they will be coming here on a high. It is a test for our lads to come back from defeat against Bristol Rovers when we felt we should have won.
“The reaction will be there. Our group of lads and very difficult to keep down for long periods and they will bounce back. We will approach this game in the exact same manner as we have all season.
“The Bristol Rovers game is a learning curve and we will focus on honing in our defensive skills and limiting the opposition to as few chances as possible. Bristol had very little attempts on goal and we managed to lose the game.
“In previous weeks we have won games – against Bolton and MK Dons – where they have had more chances and we have managed to defend them brilliantly and not give away goals.
“I am very wary of focusing on one defensive aspect – such as set plays, because there are lots of games where teams should score and don’t. You can’t always control the way that happens.”
Rochdale will be without striker Aaron Wilbraham, who is suspended for a red card against Oxford.
Keeper Robert Sanchez, who is on loan from Brighton, is closing in on a return from a knee injury, while right-back Ryan McLaughlin has been out for a few weeks with a heel problem. Centre-halves Tyler Magloire (groin) and Jimmy McNulty (back) are longer-term absentees.
Winger Stephen Dooley has been out with an ankle injury, while midfielder Ollie Rathbone suffered a knock during Saturday’s defeat to the Pirates.
Tuesday's referee is Scott Oldham from Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, who has shown 36 yellow cards and no red in 12 games so far this season. Oldham will be taking charge of his first Town match.
Squad from: Norris, Holy, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, Dozzell, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Rowe, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood, Keane.
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