|Ipswich Town 1 v 0 Gillingham|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 27th October 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Blues Look to Bounce Back Against Gills
Monday, 26th Oct 2020 10:39
Town host Gillingham on Tuesday evening looking to bounce back after successive defeats at Doncaster Rovers and Lincoln City which have seen them drop to fourth in the League One table.
The Blues went into those fixtures first in the table but the 4-1 reverse at Doncaster last Tuesday and the 1-0 loss away against new leaders Lincoln on Saturday have seen them slip three places with the top of the division tight in the early stages.
Last season Town, who also face Crewe Alexandra at home on Saturday, similarly made an impressive start and topped the table before back-to-back defeats to Accrington and Rotherham in October presaged a slump in the following couple of months.
However, manager Paul Lambert, who will watch the game from the stands having been red-carded for his post-match protestations at Sincil Bank, believes the same thing won’t happen again and if the Blues continue to play as they did at Lincoln on Saturday, positive results will come.
“We’re playing totally different, we’re a totally different team from last year,” he said after the defeat to the Imps. “The way they’re playing, the confidence they’ve got there, no problem.
“We’ll just keep playing, [we won’t] change because the way we’re dominating games, you tend to find when you start to dominate the ball you win more games than not.”
Despite the loss, via a controversial 77th-minute Jorge Grant penalty, the Blues manager was delighted with his side’s performance at Sincil Bank.
“The way we’re playing is really, really good,” he insisted. “Unbelievable football. I’m really happy with how we’re dominating games, so let’s see what happens.”
He added: “You lose games, but the way we played today, I’m so happy for them, to play that way was great. One, two-touch football, the possession of the ball, we were creating chances, the dominance of the game, we can’t ask for any more.”
Lambert, whose side have won all three of their home league matches so far 2-0, may look to make one or two changes with matches coming thick and fast and having said that if players’ performances drop they risk being replaced.
Tomas Holy put in an improved display at Lincoln and so will probably keep his place between the sticks.
Skipper Luke Chambers will be at right-back and Stephen Ward at left-back but the Blues boss may be looking at a switch at the centre of his defence.
Toto Nsiala has given away penalties in the last two matches and could make way for Luke Woolfenden, who has been on the bench for the last four League One matches having played the full 90 minutes in the EFL Trophy tie against the Gills after recovering from a groin problem. James Wilson is likely to keep his place in the back four.
In midfield, Lambert is left with few options with Jon Nolan suspended for three matches for his red card against the Imps and with Flynn Downes and Cole Skuse both out injured.
Emyr Huws will come back into the XI alongside Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop with 20-year-old Brett McGavin likely to come on to the bench as midfield cover.
Oli Hawkins will continue in the central striking role but Lambert may not want to risk starting Jack Lankester in two games in four days after his lengthy spell out.
Alan Judge, if he is over his hamstring injury, or Freddie Sears could return on the right of the front three or Keanan Bennetts could be handed his full senior debut.
Gwion Edwards, now League One’s second top scorer with five goals, seems certain to continue on the left.
Gillingham boss Steve Evans, whose side is 14th following back-to-back 2-0 home defeats to Portsmouth and Fleetwood, which followed a loss by the same scoreline away against the MK Dons, says all the pressure is on the Blues.
“I am confident we can win at Ipswich but at the same time I recognise just how good a team they are,” said Evans, speaking to the club on Sunday,” he told Kent Online.
“Anything other than promotion for them this season is a disaster, so I know where the pressure is.
“Mind you if they put our dressing room as far away from the pitch as they did in the EFL Trophy fixture, we had best organise a few taxis for the lads!”
Having faced Fleetwood, whose previous game was against Accrington who subsequently had eight players test positive for Covid-19, Evans says he wants his players to be tested ahead of the game with the Blues.
“What we will try and do is ask our chairman to make sure everyone is tested for Covid-19 before we even go near Portman Road, I have too much respect for everyone at Ipswich and in the town of Ipswich,” he said.
Evans is short on numbers ahead of Tuesday’s game with Kyle Dempsey, Jacob Mellis and Vadaine Oliver not expected to be ready to return from injury and on-loan Southampton man Tom O’Connor having limped off against Fleetwood.
Connor Ogilvie is suspended having been red-carded at the weekend and the Gills boss says he probably won’t name the full complement of substitutes.
The 57-year-old, who has a less than friendly relationship with fellow Scot Lambert following a bust-up during the game at the Priestfield Stadium last season, is considering adding out of contract players to his squad ahead of the match.
“We have got a couple of lads who have been training somewhere else and they could come in and play for us immediately,” he added.
Historically, Town have the upper hand on the Gills, winning 11 games between the sides (seven in the league), drawing 11 (11) and losing just two (two).
The teams last met in the EFL Trophy at Portman Road earlier this month when second-half goals from Armando Dobra and Ben Folami saw a very young Town side to a victory by the familiar scoreline.
Dobra struck home from the edge of the box on 57, then Folami turned home the second after good work from Gibbs with 15 minutes left as the Blues deservedly and in the end comfortably defeated the Gills.
In the league last season, the teams drew 0-0 at Portman Road on Boxing Day, the Blues having won 1-0 at the Priestfield Stadium via a Kane Vincent-Young header in September.
Blues keeper Holy joined the Blues from Gillingham in the summer of 2019 after the Czech had spent two years with the Kent club, for whom he made 107 appearances.
While Holy is the only man in the Town squad to have played for the Kent club, the Gills squad includes a couple of familiar names.
Former Blues loan striker Dominic Samuel made two starts and four sub appearances without scoring while at Portman Road between January and May 2017 when a Blackburn player.
The Londoner has scored two goals in six starts and one sub appearance since joining the Gills on a free transfer in September.
Winger Jordan Graham joined the Gills in the summer having spent two loan spells with Town, between November 2013 and January 2014 and August 2018 and January 2019, both while a Wolves player. In total Graham made three starts and three sub appearances across his two spells.
Gills midfielder Stuart O’Keefe, who moved to the Priestfield Stadium from Cardiff in the summer of 2019, was an academy schoolboy with Town.
Tuesday’s referee is Antony Coggins from Bicester, who has shown 11 yellow cards and one red in five games so far this season.
Coggins’s last Town game was the 1-0 defeat at Rotherham in January in which he booked Woolfenden, Huws and one Miller.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 2-1 home victory over AFC Wimbledon in August last year in which he cautioned Janoi Donacien and three of the visitors.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, Nsiala, Wilson, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Dozzell, Bishop, Huws, McGavin, Judge, Lankester, Edwards, Bennetts, Sears, Hawkins.
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