Paul Jewell makes his home league debut as Ipswich Town manager on Saturday hoping to win over the Portman Road crowd with a win over Doncaster Rovers.
Having seen his Town team throw away the lead to lose his first game in charge away to Millwall, Jewell returns to Portman Road hoping that home advantage may help him get off the mark this time. The Blues’ last Championship outing on their own turf proved to be the end of Roy Keane who hit out at supporters after his side lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest. With Ipswich still dangling precariously close to the danger zone in 20th place, Keane’s successor needs to inspire an urgent improvement in results if he is to avoid falling foul of the fans as well.
The team that will be coming to Town looking to stop him is 15th-placed Doncaster. Since leading his team to promotion from League One in 2008, Rovers manager Sean O’Driscoll has been able to establish Donny in the Championship with a reputation for attractive football, even drawing comparisons with the likes of Arsenal. It is the kind of style that many Town fans crave to see again from their own team after some less than inspiring football in recent seasons, but Jewell has insisted that results must come first before any focus on playing ‘the Ipswich way’. Indeed, Doncaster themselves may be feeling similar pressure to sacrifice performance for points having fallen out of form with just 2 wins in their last 9 matches, conceding 20 goals in that time; a record even worse than the Blues. More encouragingly for Town, Saturday’s visitors also have one of the poorest away records in the division.
Things are set up then for a contest which could prove to be a much-needed turning point for either team. Ipswich will fancy their chances though – after all, why fear the ‘Arsenal of the Championship’ when you have already beaten the Arsenal of the Premier League?
As already mentioned, Ipswich Town boss Paul Jewell has stressed that his team must focus on simply picking up points before they can turn their attentions towards playing more attractive football. The new manager made his comments ahead of Saturday’s game against the team he labelled the ‘Arsenal’ of the Championship.
Having watched Rovers in their FA Cup 3rd Round Replay defeat to Wolves, Jewell told the Club’s Official Website: ‘Doncaster passed the ball very well – like they always do – and there were times when you wouldn’t have known which was the Premier League team.
‘I think they are the best footballing team in the Championship. They are the Arsenal of this league.
He added: ‘in an ideal world every manager wants to play great football. You have to earn the right to play though. That’s down to hard work and time. We need time to turn things around here. It’s going to be a long term plan.’
‘The most important thing for us is to get some points on the board. I’m all for encouraging players to get the ball down and play but we have to do that in the right areas. It’s no good playing pretty football if you are losing games every week.’
The need for more points was further highlighted by Darren O’Dea, who warned his team mates that they must not be fooled into thinking that Ipswich are immune from the danger of relegation.
‘We’re absolutely not too good to go down, nobody’s too good to go down,’ O’Dea told BBC Radio Suffolk. ‘But if we do justice to ourselves and play the way we can play, do what the manager wants to do, we will be fine.’
Indeed, there is no doubt that the talent and potential for success is there. But can it ever be fulfilled?
Ipswich Town Team News:
Paul Jewell is able to welcome Grant Leadbitter back to his squad after the midfielder completed his three game suspension for the red card he received in Roy Keane’s final match in charge. The Ipswich boss is also boosted by the return of Shane O’Connor from his shoulder injury, whilst Lee Martin could make a surprise comeback in the Town team having made an early return to Portman Road from his loan at Charlton. In-form striker Tamas Priskin is a doubt with an ankle problem but should be fit, though the Blues will definitely be without Jake Livermore who has returned to Tottenham due to a groin injury. Brian Murphy and Alan Quinn remain long-term absentees, but there may yet be a window of opportunity for Luciano Civelli following an encouraging performance for the reserves in a win against Fulham in midweek.
Player to watch: Connor Wickham
Collective sighs of relief sounded when Connor Wickham put pen to paper on a new contract on Friday that will (or perhaps more realistically ‘could’) keep him at the club until 2013, and will hopefully put a stop to the persistent rumours about his future. That could be the cure for the teenager’s scoring drought – for all his promise, Wickham is still yet to find the net this season, but he has still impressed upon his recent return to the starting lineup, offering a particularly eye-catching performance against Arsenal two weeks ago. With some of the attention and pressure now lifted, he could also be free to find his scoring boots again. Having netted 6 times in all competitions last season, he will surely want to make up for lost time by matching that tally as soon as possible – and who better to try against than the team that he scored his last home goal against?
Doncaster Rovers Team News:
Doncaster Rovers boss Sean O’Driscoll is missing Martin Woods for the trip to Portman Road after the midfielder injured his groin prior to the FA Cup defeat at Wolverhampton. Fellow midfielders Brian Stock and Simon Gillett are also absent, whilst defensive trio Mustapha Dumbuya, Shelton Martis and Wayne Thomas are also sidelined. Joe Mills is another casualty with a shin injury, but Rovers are boosted by the arrival of midfielder Paul Keegan who signed from Bohemians earlier this week.
Player to watch: Billy Sharp
Sharp by name, sharp by nature – striker Billy Sharp has shown himself to be a reliable finisher since joining Doncaster from Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United for a club-record fee. It is looking like money well spent, with the 24-year-old currently topping Rovers’ scoring charts this season with 11 goals in all competitions. The man is in form too, with 4 of those goals coming in his team’s last 5 games, including a brace against his previous employers on 3 January. The Ipswich defence will have their work cut out if they are to avoid being carved up by the former Blade…!
FLC – (13th) Ipswich 1-1 Doncaster (12th)
17 April 2010
Ipswich: Wickham 72
Doncaster: Shiels (pen) 83
Ipswich: B Murphy, Wright, McAuley, T Smith, Leadbitter, Norris (Peters 77), Colback, S O’Connor, Walters, D Murphy (Garvan 57), Wickham (Clarke 90)
Doncaster: Sullivan, J O’Connor, Roberts, Chambers, Martis, Mutch (Shiels 64), Wilson (Hird 88), Oster, Emmanuel-Thomas, Hayter, Heffernan (Fairhurst 90+1)
It’s safe to say that Sean O’Driscoll is pretty widely respected amongst Championship fans – indeed, plenty of Ipswich fans had named him their preferred choice to replace Roy Keane. As such however, Paul Jewell will line up against the Rovers boss, and it won’t be an easy game either. Doncaster have surprised many people with their entertaining yet effective brand of football and we should certainly not underestimate them based merely on stature or league position – not least because they have played fewer matches than almost everyone else in the division. Their form isn’t any better than ours though – especially away from home – and with the return fixture rearranged to take place in less than a month’s time, we need to make home advantage count this time. Here’s hoping the boys don’t let us down.
Prediction: Come on then, Paul; give the fans something to cheer about. Ipswich 2-1 Doncaster.
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