|Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Shrewsbury Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 21st November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Blues Host Shrews in First of Three Big Home Games
Friday, 20th Nov 2020 14:30
Town host third-bottom Shrewsbury on Saturday in the first of three big home games for the Blues, who are third in the table with a 100 per cent record at Portman Road in League One this season.
In addition to taking 15 points from 15 at home, Town are still to concede on their own turf in the league, something in which manager Paul Lambert takes pride.
“So the home form is really good at this moment and we’re in a lot of control in games with the amount of the ball we’ve got. We just need to finish all that good work off and take a bit more care in the last third.”
Shrewsbury have made a less than impressive start to their campaign, although they have taken five of their total of eight points on their travels - their only league win at AFC Wimbledon, two draws and two defeats - with three draws the best they have managed from their six home matches.
They are currently without a win in their last six in the league, four losses following by two draws.
“You’re never quite sure how people want to set up against you, but we’ve done the best we can to prepare the best we can.
“We’ve had them watched, we’ve watched them ourselves and it’s going to be a tough game, every game we have is tough. But we’re playing well, so I’m happy with how we’re going into the game.”
Following on from the Shrews’ visit, second-placed Hull City are in Suffolk on Tuesday and then Charlton, who are fourth, are at Portman Road the next Saturday in what could be a very significant eight days for the Blues.
“We just have to take every game as it is and have to try and prepare the best we can and try and win as many games as we can,” Lambert continued.
“We’ll take one game at a time and hopefully we’ll keep playing the way we are and keep trying to win games.”
On Saturday it will be 18 days since the Blues were last in League One action and Lambert may look to start a side not too far from the one which lost 2-1 at Sunderland with Town unlucky to be defeated having been the better side until Andre Dozzell’s harsh red card and the Black Cats’ similarly contentious penalty which won them the game.
However, the Town manager has said a couple of unnamed players have suffered knocks in training this week which could affect his selection.
Assuming they're not those who have picked up injuries, Tomas Holy will continue in goal with skipper Luke Chambers at right-back and Stephen Ward at left-back.
Luke Woolfenden appears certain to return at the heart of the defence alongside Mark McGuinness with former Shrew Toto Nsiala dropping to the bench.
Woolfenden has missed the last three games as he was self-isolating having been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.
In midfield, with Andre Dozzell serving the second game of his three-match ban, Brett McGavin looks set to take up the former England U20 international’s role having impressed in the FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth.
Another ex-Shrew, Jon Nolan, also looks set to start having returned from his suspension against Pompey with Teddy Bishop probably completing the trio, although Jack Lankester may feel aggrieved if left out of the XI having scored his first goal of the campaign, and come close to a second, at the Stadium of Light.
Up front, Lambert will have to choose between Oli Hawkins and Kayden Jackson for the central striking role with James Norwood and Aaron Drinan both back in training on Thursday but not ready to start.
Norwood, who scored his first goal of the season having come on as a sub against Portsmouth, will probably be on the bench with the Blues permitted to use five of their seven subs for the first time this weekend.
In the wide roles, Gwion Edwards, still Town’s top scorer with five although now joint-sixth in the division, will be on one flank with Alan Judge, Freddie Sears or Lankester on the other.
Shrewsbury go into the game having drawn 3-3 at home to Swindon in League One last weekend, following a 4-3 win at Crewe in the Papa John’s Trophy and a 2-0 FA Cup victory at Cambridge United.
“We’ve scored nine goals in the last [three] games which is very good but we need to start making sure that is enough to win games,” manager Sam Ricketts told the Shrews official site. “We still have a couple of days of training and we will be ready to go.
“Ipswich have one of the strongest squads in the league. If you look through their squad, they are very strong and very experienced. They have good players who could play at the level above.
“We want to challenge ourselves against better teams and better players. They are playing out from the back this year and trying to control games. Paul Lambert has good players and they rotate well.
“They’re at the top end of the table for a reason. They have good players and a good way of playing.”
Shrewsbury are currently without strike pair Leon Clarke (hamstring) and Rekeil Pyke (thigh), while loanee defender Marlon Fossey has returned to his parent club Fulham for treatment to a knee problem.
Keeper Matija Sarkic (hamstring) and defender Scott Golbourne (rib) have also been out of action. Midfielder Josh Vela returns from a three-match ban.
Historically, Town have had much the better of matches between the two sides, winning 13 games (10 in the league), losing three (one) and drawing nine (six).
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.
In August last year at Portman Road, Town went top of League One by two points following a 3-0 victory over 10-man Shrewsbury.
Jackson netted in the second minute, Norwood added a penalty on 10 before Shaun Whalley saw red for the Shrews for a second bookable offence. In the second half, Flynn Downes sealed the three points for the Blues.
The corresponding fixture at Montgomery Waters Meadow wasn't played due to the season's suspension.
Nolan and Nsiala followed their former Shrews manager Paul Hurst, his assistant Chris Doig and other members of his staff to Portman Road in the summer of 2019 having been part of the side which had reached the League One play-offs the previous season.
Nolan moved to the Shrews 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 Shrewsbury player has been with Town, however, on-loan Tottenham midfielder Shilow Tracey, 22, was on trial with the Blues in 2015 while an Ebbsfleet player before moving to White Hart Lane.
Striker Jason Cummings was interesting Town back in 2018 when a Nottingham Forest player on loan at Rangers.
Saturday’s referee is Tim Robinson from West Sussex, who has shown 26 yellow cards and three red in nine games so far this season.
His most recent Town match was the pre-season 5-0 thrashing of Colchester at the JobServe Community Stadium in the summer of 2019 in which he awarded the Blues an early penalty after Cameron James felled Danny Rowe and James Norwood netted the first goal of his hat-trick.
The former PE teacher’s most recent competitive Blues fixture was the away game at Sheffield United on the penultimate weekend of the 2018/19 season in which he yellow-carded Judge and no one else.
Prior to that he was in the middle for the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Portman Road in August 2019 in which he harshly red-carded loanee Tayo Edun on his Blues full league debut for two bookable offences as well as cautioning Janoi Donacien and two visitors.
Robinson was also in charge of the 1-0 home defeat to Norwich City in October 2017 in which he cautioned only Chambers, Flynn Downes and Jordan Spence.
A month earlier Robinson officiated during the 5-2 thrashing of Sunderland in which he booked Tristan Nydam and three Wearsiders.
Prior to that he took charge of 2017/18’s 1-0 opening day victory over Birmingham City when he yellow-carded Spence and one visitor.
The season before that he officiated in the 3-1 home win against Newcastle United in which he cautioned David McGoldrick, Tom Lawrence and one Magpie.
Robinson also refereed Town’s 1-0 success at Aston Villa in February 2017, in which he booked only Jonas Knudsen and Toumani Diagouraga, and the 1-0 victory over Preston at Portman Road in August 2016, in which he booked Cole Skuse and one visiting player.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 1-0 win at Derby on the final day of 2015/16 and yellow-carded skipper Chambers, Adam McDonnell and two Rams.
Before that he took control of the 2-1 home victory over Reading in February 2016 in which he booked Christophe Berra and two visiting players.
Robinson’s only other competitive Town game was the 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough in December 2015 in which he again cautioned Berra and two visitors.
He also refereed the pre-season friendly at Crawley in the summer of 2013 in which he awarded the Blues a penalty, which was converted by McGoldrick in a 2-1 victory.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Wilson, McGavin, Nolan, Bishop, Huws, Judge, Lankester, Edwards, Bennetts, Sears, Hawkins, Jackson, Norwood.
Photo: Matchday Images
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