Going to Portman Road on Saturday? Make sure you stay till the final whistle – the last contest between these sides was a major reminder of why you should never leave a match early…
Last season rarely gave Town fans much to smile about, with Roy Keane’s side scrapping against relegation for most of the campaign. However, a seemingly unremarkable home fixture against Coventry City in January 2010 turned out to be arguably the high point of the entire season. If you somehow missed it, Ipswich had held onto a 2-1 lead over the Sky Blues until the 96th minute when the visitors equalised. Just as the home crowd might have been bemoaning another last-minute letdown however, it took just 14 seconds from the subsequent kickoff for Pablo Counago to fire home an astonishing 97th minute winner. All Town fans should cherish the memory of that afternoon – it was one of the few times Roy Keane actually had a smile on his face.
Whilst Tommy Smith’s 83rd minute winner against Leeds United last week was not quite so dramatic, it was vital to seeing the Blues continue their strong form so far this season and will certainly have given Coventry something to think about as they return to Portman Road for the first time since that incredible day in January. Things have changed for the Sky Blues since then – gone is then boss Chris Coleman as the summer saw the appointment of Aidy Boothroyd from Town’s local rivals Colchester, and this season has so far seen an improvement for the Midlands team who lie in 9th 3pts behind Ipswich. As such, a victory for the visitors on Saturday could potentially lift them above Town – and it would surely be sweet revenge too.
Roy Keane has expressed his delight at having something of a selection dilemma for this match, with so many decent options at his disposal that even some of the season’s top performers could miss out.
The Blues boss told the Town Official Website: ‘Chuck [David Norris] and Luke Hyam have done well for us but there are no guarantees they will be back in the side for the Coventry game.’
‘There is competition for places and that’s what every manager wants.’
Keane also predicts a stiff test against a Coventry side with plenty of experience, but is confident of a result at Portman Road: ‘It will be a tough game, we know that… so we know we have to be right on it, but we’ve been pretty decent at home this season and we’ve got to carry that on.’
Ipswich Town Team News:
Pleased with having plenty of players to choose from, Roy Keane will have to decide whether to bring Luke Hyam and David Norris back into the team after serving their suspensions with the match against Leeds. Defender Darren O’Dea is out, but Town could welcome back Damien Delaney and Shane O’Connor who may feature after both completed 90 minutes of a reserve match on Wednesday as part of their comebacks from injury. Luciano Civelli also played in that match as he looks to return to league action for the first time since 2009, but it could take time for the Argentinian to break back into the squad. Alan Quinn is the only other player still out as he recovers from the groin problem he picked up during pre-season. Meanwhile the Town boss has brought in a further option with Sunderland loanee Jack Colback potentially in line for his ‘second debut’ on Saturday.
Player to watch: Jack Colback
The question is, will he play? Jack Colback’s return to Ipswich came just in time for this contest having sealed his loan move from Sunderland just before 17:00 on Friday. Having starred for the Blues on loan last season, during which time he notched up 4 league goals and 4 assists in 33 starts, he is sure to receive a warm welcome at Portman Road should he walk out with the lineup on Saturday. With fellow loanees Andros Townsend and Jake Livermore, Colback adds further youthful energy to Town’s midfield and could well prove a handful for the visitors – not to mention that he was on the scoresheet for Town’s unforgettable 3-2 victory the last time the two sides met. So Sky Blues: ‘look out, ol’ Jackie is back!’
Coventry City Team News:
Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood could be in line to return between the posts after a facial injury saw him replaced by Town’s Brian Murphy in the Republic of Ireland squad last week. On-loan winger Danny Ward has had to return to Bolton Wanderers for a hernia operation while James McPake is likely to miss out through concussion. They join former Norwich striker Freddy Eastwood, one-time Town target Stephen O’Halloran, David Bell, Gary Deegan and Chris Hussey who are all long-term absentees for the Sky Blues. New striker Marlon King is also a doubt after missing Coventry’s last match against Hull with a dead leg.
Player to watch: Marlon King
Should he be passed fit for Coventry on Saturday, Marlon King will likely be subjected to a pretty intense reception from the home crowd. It will have escaped the attention of very few that the striker has spent much of the last year in jail following a conviction for sexual assault in 2009, and his return to the professional game has not been welcomed in some parts. However, as far as matters on the football pitch are concerned, King certainly has ability at this level – few should need reminding of his goalscoring exploits for boss Aidy Boothroyd when they were both at Watford, rattling up 21 Championship goals in 2005/06 to help the Hornets achieve a shock promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs that year. Coventry could be similar outsiders for going up this year, and though King has only made one start so far this season, a run in the team could see him rediscover those scoring boots. Let’s hope he is kept quiet for one more week at least…!
FLC – (20th) Ipswich 3-2 Coventry (14th)
16 January 2010
Ipswich: John 42, Colback 52, Counago 90+7
Coventry: Morrison 2, Wood 90+6
Ipswich: Lee-Barrett, Delaney, McAuley, Rosenior, Leadbitter, Garvan (Martin 90+2), Norris (Wickham 64), Peters, Colback, Walters, John (Counago 64)
Coventry: Westwood, S Wright (Gunnarsson 82), McPake, Cranie, Wood, Clingan, Bell, Deegan (Baker 72), McIndoe, Eastwood (Best 69), Morrison
I’m finding myself unusually confident about this one – which is probably not a good thing, especially as I will be travelling down for the game, and from just a few miles outside Coventry as well! Even though Town’s season has been dominated by away fixtures so far, and the heaviest defeat of the season has come at home, I have been quietly impressed by our results at Portman Road. The win against Leeds United before the international break sets this up for Town to potentially record a third straight home win as well as possibly regaining a place in the Championship’s top two. Our recent home record against Coventry has been pretty good too, and with crowds hopefully continuing to improve at Portman Road, the old ‘Fortress’ could slowly be re-establishing itself this season.
Prediction: We haven’t scored three in the league since the opening day… but these things can change! Ipswich 3-1 Coventry.
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