Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Blackburn Rovers 0 v 1 Ipswich Town
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 29th March 2024 Kick-off 17:30
McKenna: Blackburn Have Been Hard to Beat
Wednesday, 27th Mar 2024 17:54

Third-placed Town return to action following the international break when they face a Blackburn Rovers side struggling for wins under new manager John Eustace at Ewood Park live on Sky on Good Friday, but boss Kieran McKenna warns that the Lancastrians have been far from easy to beat under their incoming boss (KO 5.30pm).

Blackburn are currently 17th in the Championship, three points off the relegation zone, having won just once in their last 17 in the league and are without a win in eight Championship matches, although having drawn six of them.

Their last victory was the 3-1 defeat of Stoke at Ewood Park on February 10th, since which time they are without a home win in four in all competitions.

Eustace, harshly dismissed at Birmingham earlier in the season, was appointed manager shortly before the success against the Potters following the departure of Jon Dahl Tomasson, but with former Blues striker David Lowe and fellow coach Damien Johnson in charge of that match.

The new manager’s record in all competitions with Blackburn currently stands at played nine, won none, drawn seven, lost two.

Only Rotherham, 77, have conceded more goals than Rovers, 64, in the Championship this season, although since Eustace took over they have conceded two goals only twice and have kept two clean sheets, the opposition having scored once on the other five occasions. At home this season they have shipped 30, the third-highest in the division.

At the other end of the pitch, they’re pretty average for the Championship overall having scored 51, the 12th most, but only 26 of those at Ewood Park with only six sides having netted fewer on their own turf. They’ve scored more than one only once under Eustace - the 2-2 draw at Preston in his second game - but have found the net in seven of his matches.

Quizzed on whether Rovers have changed much since the switch of bosses, McKenna reflected: “I think you can see traits from the old manager. They were a very attack-minded team, they’ve got lots of attack-minded players.

“They've got some really talented forward players. They attack with a good intensity and with lots of numbers, and you can still see that in the side.

“And you can see what John's trying to put in place there as well as the things that he's trying to work on.
“System-wise, they changed for the Middlesbrough game, which was the first time they went to more of a back four. They've played a back five in lots of the games. So we have to be ready for both options.

“I think you can see the good things that they had in the team. And you can also see pretty clearly the things that John's working hard with the team on.”

He added: “They've been hard to beat. They've, of course, not won many games lately, but they've not lost many either. They've been drawing a lot.

“They're conceding less goals and you can see the work that they've been doing on the training pitch, both in the back-five system and also the week’s build-up that they had going to Middlesbrough in a back-four system and had a really good solid performance, and I know that they were happy with that. 
“I'm sure he's working hard on the team there. Again, fighting at the bottom end of the table in a really, really competitive division with lots and lots of teams who feel the need for points pretty urgently, I'm sure.

“And we're fighting at the other end of the table in an incredibly competitive position and trying to get performances and points of our own.

“We know we're in for a really tough game, but I'm sure Blackburn know they're in for a tough game as well.”

With the season moving into its final eight games over Easter, it feels like the campaign is very much at its business end but McKenna says it won’t be a problem for his players to stick with the one-game-at-a-time approach which he has instilled since taking over as manager in December 2021.
“I honestly don't think it's too hard for this group and hopefully the future will prove me right,” he insisted.

“I'm not by any means saying we're going to win every game, but in terms of getting distracted, getting carried away by external noise and letting other people influence what we should think or feel, I don't get much sense of that in the group.

“I think we showed that after the Cardiff game pretty well and hopefully we'll continue to show that.

“As I say, it doesn't guarantee performances or points, but our mindset is going out to perform as well as we possibly can in each game.

“The games are going to come thick and fast. We have five in 15 days. Each game is a real challenge for different reasons.

“We have Blackburn first-up straight after an international break. Everything that brings with a team away from home fighting for points.

“Then we have Southampton, we have Norwich, we have Watford and Middlesbrough. Really, every game is tough, every game is difficult, challenging and exciting enough to garner our full attention.

“So I'm really confident in the group's ability to stay focused on our processes and stay focused on the performance.
“Going into each game and the run of games, trying to do the best that we can and not worry about anything else externally that we can't control.

“That's the way it's always been and it's the way it has to be. The situation dictates that the bottom-end teams need to pick up points and the teams at the top end need to win, so many games at the top end of the division.

“We can't afford to take our eye off the next game. Blackburn is going to be a really difficult game.

“They've got good players and a lot more Championship experience in the last few years than us. A difficult team fighting for points, so we'd be foolish to look anything past that.
“Of course, when you have five games in 15 days, you might have to plan rotation in certain games or plan ahead in terms of tactically what players will suit what types of opposition or what style of games.

“But in terms of importance of games or difficulty of games, I think it's impossible and unnecessary to make any distinctions at this stage of the year.”

Town, who subsequently host Southampton on Monday, go into the match third, a point behind both leaders Leeds and Leicester in second but with the Foxes having played a game fewer.

Leicester are at Bristol City in Good Friday’s lunchtime kick-off, while the Whites play at Watford at 8pm.

McKenna has decisions to make regarding some of his players who have been away on international duty with Cameron Burgess only back for training on Thursday and Kieffer Moore having played 120 minutes for Wales on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Wes Burns has been ruled out for the next few weeks at least with the hamstring problem he suffered in the 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday last time out.

Vaclav Hladky will start in goal with Leif Davis at left-back and Axel Tuanzebe or Harry Clarke at right-back.

McKenna may opt to bring in George Edmundson alongside Luke Woolfenden at the heart of the defence given Burgess’s week or so away in Australia, the travelling and attendant jet lag.

In central midfield, skipper Sam Morsy will be partnered by Massimo Luongo with Lewis Travis ineligible against his parent club.

Omari Hutchinson seems likely to move to Burns’s wide right role with Conor Chaplin coming back into the middle having missed the Owls match with a back/side strain. Nathan Broadhead will be on the left.

If Moore isn’t considered rested enough for a start, the Wales international will be on the bench with Ali Al-Hamadi perhaps handed his Town full debut with Kayden Jackson another option.

Blackburn will be without Icelandic winger Arnor Sigurdsson, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season having suffered a knock while away on international duty.

Better news for Rovers is that centre-back Hayden Carter and full-back Joe Rankin-Costello are back in training following hamstring injuries, although Friday may come too soon for them, while midfielder John Buckley is considered touch and go due to a knee problem.

Central defender Kyle McFadzean will be back following a one-match ban for a red card.

Eustace says everyone at Ewood Park is singing from the same songsheet as they go into a crucial final eight games of the season.

“We are in it together – the squad, the players, the staff and most importantly the fans,” he told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“Whatever happens over these eight games, we stick together. We are really excited about the challenge ahead and that starts on Friday.

“[Ipswich] are a very strong squad, they had a Championship squad in League One last year and invested very well in January.

“It is the third season they have all been together now so they have got that togetherness, they know each other’s jobs and are coached very well.

“They are having a fantastic season but all I am worried about is Blackburn. We will have a gameplan to play against them and we are looking forward to coming up against a really good team.”

Regarding the fortnight’s break going into the match, he added:
“The two weeks has been good. It has given us an opportunity to rest players and give them a breather, but also get some good time on the training pitch where we can give the boys some key principles.

“We aren’t making loads of drastic changes, we are just trying to add little bits and ideas to help the boys.”

Town have had the upper hand on Rovers historically, winning 20 games (17 in the league), losing 16 (15) and drawing 18 (17).

The Blues last won at Ewood Park in the FA Cup in January 1996 when Paul Mason netted a 116th-minute winner against the then-Premier League Champions as the third-round replay ended 1-0 after extra time.

Town’s last league win at Blackburn was back in the 1991/92 Second Division title-winning season when John Lyall’s men ran out 2-1 victors over Rovers, who they would eventually pip to the title. Since then, the Blues have lost six and drawn two at Ewood Park.

At Portman Road in September, Luongo’s 79th-minute goal saw Town beat Rovers 4-3 and back up to second in the Championship after a pulsating, end-to-end clash.

Clarke gave the Blues the lead with his first goal for the club on four but Blackburn debutant Sigurdsson levelled five minutes later.

Broadhead restored Town’s lead on 18 and George Hirst made it 3-1 against his old club seven minutes later before Rovers hit back after the break through Harry Leonard and Sammie Szmodics - currently the division’s top scorer with 21 goals - on 52 and 65 before Luongo’s decisive strike 11 minutes from the end.

The teams last met at Ewood Park in January 2019 when second-half goals from Danny Graham, from the penalty spot, and sub Joe Nuttall saw Blackburn to a 2-0 victory.

Blues loanee Callum Elder felled Adam Armstrong for the spot-kick converted by Graham on 65, then Nuttall added the second nine minutes later with his first touch seconds after coming on.

Midfielder Travis is currently on loan with the Blues from Blackburn, but is ineligible against his parent side, for whom he has made exactly 200 league appearances, plus a further 24 in cup competitions, scoring six times.

Town keeper Christian Walton spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Ewood Park, making 46 appearances.

Currently injured striker Hirst was with Rovers on loan in the first half of last season but made only three starts and eight sub appearances without scoring before his spell was cut short and he joined Town on loan in January before making his move from Leicester permanent in the summer.

Former Town frontman David Lowe is first-team coach at Blackburn. Lowe made 144 starts and 15 sub appearances for the Blues between 1987 and 1991, scoring 44 goals.

Town tried to sign Rovers striker Sam Gallagher during the transfer window but having initially appeared receptive to a deal despite turning down a couple of bids, the Lancastrians ultimately opted not to sell the former Southampton striker.

Friday’s referee is Premier League official Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire, who has shown 81 yellow cards and four red in 19 games so far this season. The game at Ewood Park is only his third Championship match of the season.

Attwell’s most recent Town game was the 2-0 defeat at Bristol City in December 2016 in which he awarded the Robins a controversial penalty, converted by Lee Tomlin, after Bartosz Bialkowski had been adjudged to have fouled Tammy Abraham, and booked two Robins and no Blues.

Three months earlier, he refereed Town’s 1-0 win at Derby in which he showed yellow cards to Christophe Berra, Cole Skuse, Brett Pitman, Luke Varney and no Rams.

Prior to that he was in charge of the 1-0 win at Brighton in December 2015 in which he booked Kevin Bru and one home player.

Before that he was the official taking control of the 1-1 draw at Wolves in April of the same year in which he booked Jay Tabb, Jonny Parr and one home player.

He also refereed the 2-1 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday in February 2015 in which he booked only one of the visitors.

Attwell was also the referee during Mick McCarthy’s first game as Town manager, the 1-0 win at Birmingham in November 2012.

Prior to that, he was in charge of the famous snow match against Leicester at Portman Road in December 2010, which the Blues won 3-0 and in which Rory Fallon and one of the visitors were booked.

The previous season, Attwell awarded Town what looked a harsh penalty when Damien Delaney was man-handled as a long throw came into the box in the 1-1 draw with West Brom at Portman Road, Grant Leadbitter, who was also booked along with Arran Lee-Barrett and three of the visitors, netting the spot-kick.

Attwell’s first Town match was the 3-1 win at QPR in February 2009 in which Ben Thatcher was the only player yellow-carded.

Squad from: Hladky, Walton, Clarke, Davis, Humphreys, Tuanzebe, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burgess, Morsy (c), Luongo, Taylor, Ball, Chaplin, Harness, Jackson, Aluko, Hutchinson, Sarmiento, Broadhead, Moore, Al-Hamadi.

Photo: TWTD

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

MK1 added 18:08 - Mar 27
This is a tough game. Blackburn have a much better squad than their league position. We will be to strong going forward for them though, so another great away Town win.

ArnieM added 20:02 - Mar 27
Out of interest, How many players have Blackburn had tied up with international duty this week? I think with the very fine margins we are dealing with now over these last few games, players fatigue levels may play a big part in games now. Are there any more of these international breaks?

wedgieblue added 00:02 - Mar 28
Make no mistake, this will not be a walk over. They are better than their league position and under a new manager they’re hard to beat. However they haven’t chalked up a win, just draws. Even though we’ve had key players on international duty and Burns out we should have enough. Tough tough next 5 fixtures. If we can glean a good haul of points from them, who knows, we can May be able to dream…..

Cambsrover14 added 06:56 - Mar 28
Arniem we have had Sigurdsson (who is now out due to injury on international duty),Moran, Ayari, Szmodics on international duty so the rest of the squad should be refreshed. We also have Buckley who is touch and go. I'm going tomorrow so should be a good game they normally are against Ipswich but we are always on the wrong end of a result at Portman Road anyway. I don't think we have beat you there since the 90's. Good luck for the rest of the season just not tomorrow :).

ArnieM added 07:53 - Mar 28
Thanks for that Cambsrover14 . I think it'll probably be a draw. we tend to struggle against side that (and potentially you might do this ) park the bus , and hit us on the break. Squeaky bum time of season which ever end of the table you are at isnt it . The injury to Sigurdsson in an International game is an occupational hazard, but if that game was just a friendly , thats all the more galling isnt it .

Good luck for the remaining games .... let the best man win tommorrow..

Cambsrover14 added 09:40 - Mar 28
Sigurdsson is Icelandic and is now out for the season but the game he got injured was against Ukraine to go to the Euros this summer. I'd take a draw as long as it keeps us up and the bottom 4 keep losing

IpswichT62OldBoy added 12:56 - Mar 28
Al Hamadi is a good starting option, Moore must have had something taken out of him with 120 mins plus pens and then the emotional shock.
If we do win it will be a big result, a draw probably not a disaster.
A loss would be hard to take.

dirtydingusmagee added 09:14 - Mar 29
fingers and toes crossed we win , it really is tight at top and any points dropped could well scupper auto's. Still see it being down to last day squeekies COYB

bobble added 10:46 - Mar 29

Barty added 10:55 - Mar 29
Yes it will be a tough game for us but a lot lot tougher for Blackburn. 3-1 town. COYB.

IpswichT62OldBoy added 14:24 - Mar 29
Leicester just lost. Pump up the volume.

FreddySteady added 14:34 - Mar 29
Blooming heck, Leicester! We mustn’t cock this up!

senduntd added 14:54 - Mar 29
Blackburn were a great side in the 70s Remember Douglas, Dougan and Dobbing great players who always gave Bobby Robsons side a hard time.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 15:41 - Mar 29
Leicester lunch time result pumps up the pressure on us. I'm sure K McK will focus the lads. Let's do this! COYB!

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 15:43 - Mar 29
"L" is for Leeds, Leicester and losers. Let's hope so anyway, here on in...

You need to login in order to post your comments

Blogs 295 bloggers

Ipswich Town Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© TWTD 1995-2024