After last week’s success on the road, Ipswich Town begin their bid to turn Portman Road into a fortress this season when they host Hull City on Saturday.
Portman Road has been a less than happy home for Ipswich in recent seasons. A rather paltry ten home wins last year followed just eight in each of the previous two seasons; a far cry from the incredible campaign of 15 victories and just one defeat on home soil in 2007/08. Indeed, there has been much talk about the need to rebuild ‘Fortress Portman Road’ and the need for the Blues to win back the fans after a turbulent spell in the club’s history.
To do that however, they’ll need to get off to a good start against a Hull side which proved tough to break down on their travels last season. Only Cardiff City and promoted duo QPR and Norwich City picked up more points away from home than Nigel Pearson’s team last season, and with substitute Jay Simpson netting a late equaliser for the Tigers at Portman Road back in February, Ipswich should already be aware that they are in for a much tougher test than last week’s trip to Bristol City.
Even so, hopes are high that Paul Jewell can bring the good times back to Portman Road, and with another home game on Tuesday night, the Blues boss has an early opportunity to show the Town faithful what they can expect. After hitting the top of the table on last weekend’s trip, any designs Ipswich have on staying up there will depend on them getting it right at home as well; laying the foundations for a promotion campaign is all well and good, but they won’t last long if Town’s fortress is built on sand.
For more buildup to this match, check out our interview with Vital Hull in this season’s first instalment of From The Other Side.
Ipswich Town Team News:
Ipswich have defensive concerns ahead of the visit of Hull, with boss Paul Jewell sweating on the fitness of centre-backs Damien Delaney and Ivar Ingimarsson. The former picked up a knock at Bristol City while the latter is still struggling with the injury he suffered in pre-season.
That could see Tommy Smith start at the back on Saturday, with Jack Ainsley also potentially in line for his first start after an impressive personal display against Northampton Town on Tuesday night.
Lee Bowyer, David Stockdale and last week’s two goal hero Michael Chopra will almost certainly be restored to the lineup having missed the cup defeat to the Cobblers, whilst new signing Keith Andrews looks set to make his debut in midfield.
Player to watch: Keith Andrews
Fresh from completing his loan move from Blackburn Rovers, midfielder Keith Andrews is intent on showing his parent club what they are missing out on when he takes to the field for Ipswich.
The Republic of Ireland international, who will be with the club until January, is likely to be handed his Town debut on Saturday. Having found his chances limited at Ewood Park, he will be eager to rediscover the form that made him a hit at Milton Keynes Dons, where he netted 19 times in 78 appearances.
A permanent move could be on the cards for Andrews should he impress, so what better way to start than sparkling on your debut?
Hull City Team News:
Hull City manager Nigel Pearson looks set to be without Aaron McLean for the trip to Portman Road as the striker continues his recovery from a calf injury.
Dele Adebola and Liam Rosenior missed the Tigers’ midweek Carling Cup defeat to Macclesfield Town with back and knee injuries respectively, but both are in line to return on Saturday.
City are also set to welcome back six other players who were absent for Tuesday’s game, though former Town favourite Jimmy Bullard will not be involved having effectively been banished from Pearson’s squad following an incident during the Tigers’ pre-season campaign.
Player to watch: Matty Fryatt
Hull’s efforts to make the playoffs last season were frustrated by a lack of goals, but in striker Matty Fryatt, they have someone who could get them firing again.
Despite only signing for the Tigers in January, Fryatt ended up as the club’s top scorer last season with 9 league goals in 22 appearances, as well as providing a couple for his team-mates.
Having previously scored 44 goals in all competitions under Pearson at Leicester City, it seems the two men are benefiting from their reunion at the KC Stadium. The question is, will it work for them at Portman Road?
FLC – (13th) Ipswich 1-1 Hull (10th)
19 February 2011
(Click here for Match Report)
Ipswich: Scotland 58
Hull: Simpson 85
Ipswich: Fulop, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter, Edwards, Martin (Civelli 83), Drury, Healy, Kennedy, Wickham, Scotland (Priskin 80)
Hull: Guzan, Dawson, Chester, Gerrard, Rosenior, Koren, Evans, Stewart (Devitt 90+3), Belaid (Simpson 78), Fryatt, McLean (Barmby 63)
I was at Portman Road the last time we played Hull, and I have to say that I didn’t feel there was an awful lot in it. Both sides were hanging around in mid-table at the time and the game ultimately finished as a draw which, in truth, somewhat reflected the similarity between the two teams.
In many ways, I’m expecting pretty much the same thing this Saturday. Whilst I would like to think that last week’s trip to Bristol City was evidence of Town having come on leaps and bounds from last season, I fear it was more likely a reflection of how poor the hosts were, and facing Hull could be a nasty shock by comparison.
The Tigers are a tough side to break down under Pearson, so I reckon this will probably end all square again.
Editor’s Prediction: Ipswich 1-1 Hull
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