Ipswich – please can we play a bit better?

Both clubs go into this weekend’s encounter at Portman Road having suffered embarrassing defeats on Tuesday evening. While Charlton were gifting goals to bottom of the league Burton, Ipswich were being turned over 0-3 at home by Hull City. Lee Bowyer and Paul Lambert will be demanding a swift response from their teams and may well ring the changes.

Ipswich began the season in spectacular fashion. They won five of their first six games and drew the other and were top of the league in mid October having scored thirteen and conceded two.  However, those wins were against Wigan, Bristol Rovers, Rochdale, Blackpool and Accrington. As soon as they came up against stronger opposition their weaknesses became evident as they lost at Doncaster (4-1), Lincoln (1-0) and Sunderland (2-1). They continued to see off weaker opposition at home with narrow wins against Gillingham, Crewe and Shrewsbury and, when they kicked off against Hull on Tuesday they were defending a six-game 100% home record. They now sit in fifth place – two points ahead of Charlton having played one more game.

This performance mirrors last season when, in mid November after fifteen games, they were top with 33 points. In January they secured Lambert with a new five year contract but, when the season was halted in March, they had slumped to eleventh place eight points short of a play-off place. Many will remember Lambert’s arrival into the managerial limelight when his Colchester side won the first game of the 2009 season 7-1 at Norwich whereupon he was installed as Norwich manager a few weeks later. His team gained successive promotions and he subsequently took over at Villa for a further three years. After that he had short spells at Blackburn, Wolves and Stoke so his security of tenure at Ipswich is no doubt very welcome.

It is eight games and eight years since we last beat Ipswich when, in September 2012, a 2-1 win at Portman Road was secured by a goal from Ricardo Fuller that was hit with such power that he had to limp off immediately afterwards. Ipswich have won the last four games at The Valley by an aggregate 7-1 and they brushed us aside 3-0 up there in December 2014. There have however also been a couple of battling draws. In April 2016 a 0-0 draw wasn’t enough to save us from the drop but a last minute Johnny Jackson equaliser in January 2014 lingers long in the memory.

Lee Bowyer was uncompromising in his assessment of his team’s performance at Burton. He spoke about complacency and sloppiness and went on: “I’ve reminded a few of them in there that it is not acceptable and that it will never be acceptable, not playing for me. That is just not like us at all and the worst thing is it was the more senior players who were doing it”

His team selection for the weekend will be interesting, particularly as it was the introduction of Albie Morgan which sparked the team into some urgency and creativity towards the end. Bowyer also has the most potent goalscorer in the league available. Chuks Aneke is scoring at 73 minutes per goal. Better than Calvert-Lewin (79) and Vardy (81) and far more prolific than Luke Jephcott of Plymouth (92). What a pity that starting him is deemed such a risk.

With Charlton’s makeshift defence beginning to look distinctly makeshift it is difficult to feel confident about this game. A draw might not be too bad as we await the returns of Ryan Inniss and Akin Famewo.

The link to watch the game on Valley Pass from the comfort of your Range Rover is below: