Blues Host Doncaster Aiming to Build on Hull Win
Friday, 26th Feb 2021 17:35
Town face Doncaster Rovers at home aiming to build on Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at Hull City and last Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Oxford United.
Prior to the win at the KCOM Stadium, their first in 15 attempts against the Tigers, the Blues hadn’t beaten anyone in the current top six this season, indeed they had lost all previous eight games.
Asked whether Tuesday’s result and the performance had given him confidence that his side can get themselves back in the play-off running, Lambert said: “We can build on it, build on the Oxford game, I said that on Tuesday.
“We can build on these sorts of thing and if you can get a wee bit of a running going and a bit of momentum going, we’re not out of it. We’ve a couple of games in hand.
“But Tuesday, it was encouraging how we played, how we performed. I think James Norwood came back to the form that he showed [early in his time at Town]. When he’s plays like that, it just shows you he’s been a big loss. He and Troy Parrott, I thought were excellent together.
“There was a lot of good stuff on Tuesday. It’s a small step but we’ll just try and build on it tomorrow.”
Lambert believes it’s important to maintain the feelgood factor: “That’s what winning does. You bob along to the next game really and and try and get another result.
“The guys know they played well on Tuesday. As I said, for me it’s a small step and we go and try and build again on Saturday.”
In October Rovers, the division's third top scorers having netted 46 times, beat the Blues 4-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium but despite sitting in sixth the South Yorkshire side are without a win in their last four.
Asked whether they have been impacted by the sale of former skipper Ben Whiteman to Preston in January, Lambert said: “I don’t read anything into that, they’re still a good side. The lad who went to Preston was a really good player for them.
“[Manager] Darren [Moore] tries to play. When you lose good players it’s hard to replace certain things. But they’re still a good side, Doncaster.
“But at this moment we’re doing alright ourselves, it’s step forward for us, we’ll try and build on what we had on Tuesday.”
Lambert is impressed with the job Moore has done at Doncaster and prior to that at his previous club: “Darren was a good manager at West Brom. We’ve had some good battles over time, when he was at West Brom. He’s done well at Doncaster. A good manager and a nice guy to go with it.”
Lambert had praise for one-time Town target James Coppinger, who is still playing at 40: “He’s had a good career at Doncaster. I don’t know how old that lad is now but he’s got that longevity to do it, albeit he doesn’t start every game now.
“The career the lad’s had there for a length of time, to play for that length of time, it’s a testament to himself really.”
Coming back to his main theme, Lambert added: “Tuesday night was a stepping stone building on the Oxford game and if we can keep doing what we’re doing we hopefully can get a win tomorrow.”
The Blues boss probably won’t make too many changes from the side which won at Hull, although with one eye on the number of games his current first XI have played.
Tomas Holy will be in goal behind the back four of skipper Luke Chambers, Toto Nsiala, James Wilson and Myles Kenlock.
Lambert has a decision in the centre of midfield with Flynn Downes back from his two-match ban. The Blues boss may opt to rest Teddy Bishop, who completed a rare full 90 minutes at Hull, with Town in action again on Tuesday when they travel to Accrington.
Andre Dozzell is likely to continue with Alan Judge and Keanan Bennetts the wide men, and Troy Parrott behind lone out-and-out striker James Norwood.
Rovers boss Moore, whose side’s game at Blackpool was called off late on on Tuesday due to waterlogged pitch, was impressed by the Blues’ win at Hull that night.
“Ipswich have turned their form around and have a very experienced manager who is capable of getting results,” he told his club’s official website.
“They have belief within the group and getting a win on the road at Hull was a good achievement for them.
“They are a massive club at this level and the squad Paul Lambert has down there is full of quality and experience.”
Striker Fejiri Okenabirhie is over an ankle injury, while fellow frontman Tyreece John-Jules is back with parent club Arsenal having suffered a hamstring injury.
Historically, Town have had the better of Rovers, winning eight games between the teams (seven in the league), drawing five (five) and losing five (four).
At the Keepmoat Stadium in October, Rovers came from a goal down to beat the Blues 4-1 to comprehensively end their unbeaten start to 2020/21 and drop them to second in the League One table.
A Joe Wright own goal gave Town the lead on the quarter hour but Cameron John and Whiteman on 28 and 37 gave the home side a 2-1 half-time lead before Whiteman netted the third from the spot in the 62nd minute and Fejiri Okenabirhie made it four two minutes later.
Last time at Portman Road in September 2019, the teams drew 0-0. The visitors went closest to breaking the deadlock when Ben Sheaf hit the post in the second half.
No one in either squad has played for the opposition but Doncaster’s veteran midfielder Coppinger was targeted by former Town boss Paul Jewell on several occasions during his time in charge of the Blues.
Saturday’s referee is Martin Coy from Durham, who has shown 49 yellow cards and four red in 21 games so far this season.
Coy’s only previous Town match was the 2-2 draw at Peterborough in August 2019 in which he booked Kenlock and three home players as well as awarding the Blues a penalty which was missed by Norwood.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Matheson, Ward, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Nsiala, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Dozzell, Downes, Judge, Huws, Harrop, Bishop, Edwards, Lankester, Thomas, Sears, Parrott, Norwood, Drinan.
Photo: Matchday Images
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