|Ipswich Town 0 v 2 Charlton Athletic|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 28th November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Town Out to End Home Run on High Note Against Charlton
Friday, 27th Nov 2020 14:00
Town will be out to end their run of three back-to-back home games on a winning note when sixth-placed Charlton visit Portman Road on Saturday.
The Blues defeated Shrewsbury 2-1 last Saturday, although far from convincingly, before being comfortably beaten 3-0 by leaders Hull City on Tuesday, the first points they had dropped at Portman Road this season. Tough-looking away trips to Oxford and Plymouth follow in the next week.
The Addicks, relegated from the Championship last season after one season back in the second tier, have made a positive start on their return to League One, however, were beaten 4-2 at Burton in midweek.
Prior to that match, the South Londoners had gone eight games without a League One defeat, which included a six-match winning streak. Charlton are one place and two points behind the Blues having played a game fewer.
Town will again be looking to win against one of the teams in the division’s higher reaches, with ninth-placed Accrington the only team in the top 10 they have beaten this season having overcome only two of the 10 sides who finished above them - Gillingham and Fleetwood, who they both defeated 1-0 away - during 2019/20.
“It’ll be a tough game,” manager Paul Lambert said when asked what he expected from the Addicks.
“I know they lost to Burton, but there you go. Who expected Charlton to lose at Burton, but it happens.
“The league is tough. [Addicks manager] Lee [Bowyer] has done really well taking them up and it’s an unforgiving league the Championship, a really hard, hard league.
“And then you find yourself back down in League One and people want to beat you and people think you’re one of the favourites to go back up – all those sorts of things come into it. But Lee has done a good job there.”
Lambert may want to make changes following Tuesday’s defeat to Hull but in some areas his options are very limited with the injury list having increased over the last couple of games with Teddy Bishop (ankle), Jon Nolan (groin) and Freddie Sears (hamstring) having joined the likes of Gwion Edwards (hamstring), James Wilson (knee), Cole Skuse, Flynn Downes (both knee), Kane Vincent-Young (achilles), Ben Morris (knee) and Tristan Nydam (ankle) on the sidelines.
Tomas Holy will be in goal with the back four again probably, from the right, skipper Luke Chambers, Luke Woolfenden, Mark McGuinness and Stephen Ward.
In midfield, Andre Dozzell is back from his three-match ban and looks set to replace Brett McGavin with Emyr Huws and Alan Judge the other two members of the trio.
Lambert was impressed with James Norwood’s performance against Hull and the former Tranmere man looks set to continue as the lone central striker with Keanan Bennetts hoping he did enough to keep a place on one flank, probably the left, and Jack Lankester perhaps returning to the starting line-up on the right.
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer says captain Jason Pearce (calf) and fellow centre-half Deji Oshilaja (foot) aren’t ready to start against the Blues having been unused subs at Burton.
With fellow Akin Famewo (hamstring) and Ryan Inniss (quad) also out, they appear likely to be forced to start right-back Chris Gunter and midfielder Darren Pratley as their central defensive pairing, as they did on Tuesday.
However, Bowyer isn’t particularly concerned as he was pleased with their performances against the Brewers.
“Prats and Gunter didn’t do badly the other night when you take away the first goal [which came as the result of a Gunter error]. If you take the goals out of the equation – which were freak, freak mistakes – they didn’t do bad,” he told London News Online.
“That’s not really my worry. If I have to play them two I’m not worried about it because they did well as a partnership.”
Reflecting on Tuesday’s defeat, he added: “We moved the ball too slowly and we were sloppy in possession. I’m not using the pitch as an excuse because it was the same for both teams.
“The first half hour, in particular, wasn’t good. I didn’t see that result coming and sometimes you need things like that to happen to make everyone come back to reality. We have to work hard for it, you can’t just turn up and expect to win games.
“In the second half we improved but we gave them four goals. The third goal we gave the corner away, we were sloppy with the ball back to the keeper. We’ll get a reaction, I’m sure, at Ipswich. It’s a tough game and we have to be ready for that.”
Town just have the edge historically having won 23 games (19 in the league), Charlton 18 (15) and with 11 (10) ending in draws. The Blues are unbeaten in seven games against the Addicks home and away, winning five of them.
The teams last met in competitive action in April 2016 when a 0-0 draw at Portman Road all but ended Town’s play-off push with the Addicks on their way to relegation from the Championship.
Ben Pringle came closest for the Blues in the first half with a strike well saved by Charlton keeper Nick Pope, while Jonathan Douglas headed and then shot over in the second.
In the previous November, Daryl Murphy scored twice and Freddie Sears once as the Blues comfortably beat Charlton 3-0 to record their fourth successive victory at The Valley.
Murphy put Town in front in the 28th minute, Sears added the second just before half-time and the Irish international sealed the three points on 68.
Patrick Bauer, Tariqe Fosu and Josh Magennis (2) put the Addicks 4-0 up at half-time before two Ricky Holmes strikes sandwiched Dozzell’s solitary goal for Town.
Charlton boss Bowyer spent the 2011/12 season with the Blues, scoring twice in 24 starts and five sub appearances.
Bowyer’s squad includes four-time Town loanee Jonny Williams, who made 16 starts and 12 sub appearances across his spells at Portman Road, also scoring two goals.
Addicks central defender Luca Vega came through the academy at Portman Road having joined the club at seven before being released in the summer of 2019 when he signed a professional deal at the Valley after a trial. So far Vega’s only first team appearance was in the Papa John’s Trophy earlier this season and he is currently injured.
Centre-half Oshilaja came very close to joining the Blues in the summer of 2018 from AFC Wimbledon.
The former Dons skipper, who signed for the Addicks in July 2019, was at Portman Road to complete the deadline day deal only for the clubs to be unable to agree a fee. Midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey is the stepson of ex-Blues striker Nicky Forster.
Saturday’s referee is Craig Hicks from Surrey, who has shown 40 yellow cards and two red in 14 matches so far this season.
Hicks’s last Town game was the 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers in September in which he yellow-carded Edwards, Norwood and two home players.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon last season in which he booked Downes and one home player.
Before that he refereed another 0-0 draw, at home to Gillingham on Boxing Day last year in which he showed yellow cards to Toto Nsiala, Edwards, Judge and Norwood.
Hicks’s first competitive Town match was the Leasing.com Trophy tie with Tottenham’s U21s in September last year in which he showed just the one yellow card to one of the visitors.
He also took charge of Town’s July 2017 pre-season friendly against Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium, which the home side won 2-1.
The Kent side, who had current Blues keeper Holy in goal, went in front via a soft penalty awarded by Hicks, who kept his cards in his pocket throughout, won by ex-Town midfielder Lee Martin following a challenge by Blues captain Chambers and converted by Tom Eaves.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Dozzell, McGavin, Huws, Judge, Lankester, Bennetts, Dobra, Hawkins, Jackson, Norwood, Drinan.
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