|Ipswich Town 4 v 1 Burton Albion|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 15th February 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: Home Games Make or Break
Friday, 14th Feb 2020 15:20
Boss Paul Lambert says Town’s nine remaining home games, starting with tomorrow’s visit by Burton Albion, will make or break the Blues’ promotion aspirations.
Town have disappointed at Portman Road so far this season with their 20 points from 13 League One games so far only the 18th best in the division.
The Blues, without a win in four, are seventh, seven points behind leaders Rotherham - who have a game in hand - and six behind second-placed Peterborough but with Posh having played a game more.
They have 13 left to play in total with nine of those at Portman Road and Lambert admits that an improvement in home form will be vital.
“We have nine at home, that’s going to be the big thing for us, the home games, it’s going to be huge for us,” he said. “The nine home games are probably going to make or break it.”
Lambert says it’s important for everyone at Portman Road, including the fans, to stick together during the remaining months as the Blues look to get back into the Championshp at the first attempt.
“One million per cent and they’ve been brilliant since I’ve been at the club from day one,” Lambert said.
“They come in their thousands to watch us, they’ve been brilliant. We just need everybody from the fans, the people in the office, the tea women and laundry guys. We need everybody to be together.”
Lambert says he’s not one to take too much notice of the results of the teams battling his side for promotion.
“I never look outside of my own box, never,” he insisted. “I never did as a player and I’ve never done it as a manager, and I’ve been in management for 15 years.
“I never worry about anybody else and you’ve got to look after your own place first. If you don’t look after your own place first, you’re never going to get where you want to get to.”
Looking back to the opening day and the 1-0 victory over the Brewers in the away fixture, Lambert says it was important to get an early win in the wake of the disastrous 2018/19 relegation season.
“Any game you win I think you win and you let it go, you win you let it go,” he said. “And that’s how I’ve always approached football. I never dwell on the positives and I never dwell on too many negatives, so for me, it’s always about what happens next.
“But it got us off to a good start and put us in a position where we had a good run, but it’ll be a tough game.”
He says it gave Town some early momentum: “It did. And [we had to deal with] big club syndrome as well, the stadium was always going to be full and to be fair everywhere we go we’ve got a big crowd.
“The Burton game was a good game, and it was a dangerous game for us because nobody really knew what to expect.”
Lambert is a big fan of his Burton counterpart Nigel Clough: “I like Nigel, the way he’s gone about it and the teams he’s had at Burton, really good. It’ll be a tough, tough game.
“Again, the expectancy level, everybody will think Burton are coming down and it’s easy. It’s not easy, we have to earn the right against them. Give them the respect they’re due.
“Nigel’s been round the block before, he knows it, he’s a good manager. It’s going to be a tough game.”
The game is likely to be played in a high wind with Storm Dennis blowing in on Saturday afternoon but Lambert says the conditions will be the same for each of the teams.
“It’s the same for both, deal with it, deal with the weather, that’s the conditions, deal with it,” he said.
Key midfielder Flynn Downes picked up his ninth league booking in the 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon but Lambert doesn’t want the England U20 international to do anything other than play his natural game.
“Let him play,” he said. “I think you’ve got to let him play. The lad has been outstanding for us all season. I don’t think you can curtail Flynn, that’s the way he plays, but he’s been absolutely top class.”
Lambert could have his two regular wing-backs to call on again but probably won’t look to make many changes to his team having been happy with the performances at Sunderland - in the first half at least - and at Wimbledon, although frustrated that his team didn’t turn chances into goals.
Tomas Holy will continue in goal with the back three of skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden ahead of him.
Luke Garbutt could return at left wing-back with Lambert hopeful that the on-loan Everton man will be over the thigh strain which has kept him out of the last two matches with Gwion Edwards having completed his suspension and set to return at right wing-back. Josh Earl and Janoi Donacien are set to drop to the bench.
In midfield Lambert could look to bring back Alan Judge in the more advanced role with Emyr Huws and Downes probably starting in the other roles with Cole Skuse dropping to the bench.
Up front, Lambert may look to bring back Will Keane for James Norwood alongside Kayden Jackson with the Town top scorer playing a part from the bench. Teddy Bishop also seems likely to be among the subs.
Burton are currently 12th and without a win in their last five, although their only defeat was a 3-2 loss at Rotherham which is sandwiched by four defeats. Away from home they have won five, drawn four and lost six.
Manager Clough says his team will be out to avenge their opening day loss to the Blues at the Pirelli Stadium.
“I think we have a point to prove after the first day of the season when we were beaten very unfairly after a deflection,” Clough told the Brewers’ official site.
“They have been a bit of a bogey side as we have played so well against them and haven’t had the results. If you think about the games in the Championship and here in August, we are due a bit of luck against them.
“We are looking forward to the game. It’s always an enjoyable experience going to Portman Road. It’s one of those football clubs who have been at the top level for so long and have the history and the stadium and it should be an enjoyable experience for our players.
“We thought at the start of the season that they might run away with it but they have been pegged back a little, which can happen in a long hard season.
“The weight of expectation at clubs like Ipswich and Sunderland is very high and if things are not going their way it weighs quite heavily.
“But once you turn it around it can give you momentum, like Sunderland at the moment and then it becomes a massive advantage when you have 20,000 behind you. Ipswich certainly have time to pick it up again.”
Turning to his own team, the former Derby boss added: “Home or away doesn’t make too much difference to us. It’s more how we go about it. If we do our jobs defensively well enough we can beat anybody.
“I don’t worry as much about us going forward but defensively it’s about getting that right mentality which we have shown at times but not all the time.
“We are going to two tough places, one towards the top of the league and one towards the bottom [Southend next weekend]. The pressure will be more on Ipswich on Saturday as they probably need the three points more than us.”
Forward Oliver Sarkic will be back from suspension, while Clough is hopeful that Jake Buxton (rib), Stephen Quinn, Colin Daniel (both groin) and John-Joe O’Toole (back) will be over niggles ahead of the game.
Town and the Brewers have only met five times in competitive matches, all in the league, with Town unbeaten having won four and drawn one.
On the opening day of the season, Garbutt's deflected debut goal saw the Blues to a 1-0 victory over Burton Albion in their first third tier game for 62 years.
Loanee Garbutt found the net in the 11th minute to see the Blues to the three points against the Brewers, who were reduced to 10 men late on when Stephen Quinn was red-carded for two bookable offences.
The teams last crossed swords at Portman Road in February 2018 in the Championship when the game ended in a drab 0-0 draw with the visitors having had the better of the few chances.
In the second half of a match which was watched by Portman Road’s lowest league crowd for almost 20 years, Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski saved from former Blue Darren Bent when through one-on-one and made another brilliant stop in the final minute from Kyle McFadzean.
No member of the current Town squad has played for Burton, but former Town loan keeper Stephen Bywater joined the Brewers from Doncaster in January 2016.
The 38-year-old made 17 appearances for the Blues in a half-season spell in 2008. Midfielder Stephen Quinn is the brother of ex-Blue Alan.
Saturday’s referee is Charles Breakspear from Surrey, who has shown 116 yellow cards and 12 red in 26 games so far this season.
Breakspear’s last Town match was the Blues’ 4-1 victory over Accrington Stanley a month ago in which he booked Chambers and one of the visitors.
Before that he was the fourth official on the end of Cardiff defender Sol Bamba’s outburst which led to his red card when the Bluebirds visited Portman Road in December 2016.
Breakspear refereed was the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Stevenage at Portman Road in August 2016 in which he booked Tommy Smith and two visiting players.
He was also in charge of the 1-0 defeat at QPR in February of the same year in which he yellow-carded Kevin Bru and two home players.
Before that, he officiated in the 0-0 home draw with Wigan in January 2015 in which he booked Tommy Smith and three Latics.
Prior to that he took control of the 1-0 home victory over Bolton in February 2014, the winning goal a 55th-minute David McGoldrick penalty awarded after the striker had been hauled back by Trotters’ keeper Andy Lonergan, who had dropped a high ball.
Breakspear also refereed Town’s 3-0 pre-season friendly victory at Colchester in July 2013 in which he also awarded the Blues a spotkick, which Daryl Murphy scored after he was fouled by U’s keeper Sam Walker.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Earl, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Skuse, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Judge, Nolan, Dobra, Jackson, Keane, Norwood, Sears.
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