It’s rare that a team scores 4 and goes on to lose, but that’s exactly what Leeds hope to bounce back from when they visit Portman Road on Saturday, with the help of some familiar faces.
On a night where Europe’s finest were battling in the Champions League, few could have predicted that the most fascinating game that evening would be the Championship ‘Roses’ derby between Leeds and Preston. In case you were in a cave at the time, Leeds soared to a 4-1 lead after going behind to 22nd-placed Preston, but somehow the Lancashire side mounted an incredible comeback to win 6-4. Incidentally, it was the first 10-goal contest in the second-tier since Ipswich’s unforgettable 2004 victory over Crewe by the same scoreline at Portman Road – just in time for Leeds to pay their visit.
There was no such goalfest for the Blues, who came just minutes away from a 0-0 draw at Reading only for the hosts to snatch 3 points from a game that saw more red cards than goals. Having wasted many chances both at the Madejski Stadium and at Scunthorpe a week ago, questions have re-emerged over whether Town have sufficient quality up front to find the goals. For Ipswich to bounce back from the defeat – and hopefully find a first half league goal at last – they will need to breach a Leeds defence which includes two ex-Town players. Alex Bruce was released by Keane in the summer, while former captain and Blues legend Richard Naylor makes his return to Portman Road for the first time since ending his memorable 14 year stint at Ipswich. He and Bruce are sure to receive a warm reception when they trot out onto their old home turf, but with three points at stake, it will not be the time for a friendly reunion…
Ipswich v Leeds will be the featured commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra on Saturday afternoon. Programme starts at 14:45.
The man whom much attention is likely to centre around, Richard Naylor, is looking forward to coming back to Ipswich on Saturday. Asked about his thoughts ahead of the game, the Leeds defender spoke fondly of his many seasons at Portman Road, but he has been quick to quash any suggestions of divided loyalties.
‘It’ll be fantastic going back to see some old faces,’ he told the Leeds United Official Website. ‘I played in the Premier League and Europe with Ipswich. I had a great time there, and it’s a good club with good people and supporters.’
‘Going in the away dressing room will be strange, but you take it like any other game. It’s about us getting a result and putting Tuesday behind us.’
No hard feelings, Bam-Bam – though we wouldn’t mind if you get a bit confused defending a set-piece tomorrow and think you’re playing up front for Town again…!
Ipswich Town Team News:
Roy Keane will have some difficult gaps to fill in midfield, with Luke Hyam suspended following his red card at Reading and David Norris likewise having picked up 5 bookings this season. Jake Livermore is therefore likely to start on his home debut, while Tamas Priskin could return up front after Jason Scotland failed to take his chances at the Madejski. Defenders Tommy Smith and Darren O’Dea are slight injury doubts, while Shane O’Connor, Luciano Civelli and Alan Quinn are still yet to return to full fitness.
Player to watch: Jake Livermore
We made Jake Livermore our ‘Man to Watch’ on Tuesday night, but the Tottenham loanee was only given 10 minutes to try and make his mark at the Madejski Stadium. Given the absentees in midfield, Livermore is much more likely to feature heavily in this game. The 19-year-old has pledged to try and help the Blues find those all important goals, telling local reporters in midweek that he had ‘saved a few for Ipswich!’ Finding the net would be a welcome bonus, but expectations for the Spurs youngster are more dependent on whether he can prove his worth in a competitive Town midfield – one which includes his friend Andros Townsend.
Leeds United Team News:
Leeds have several injury problems for this clash, with Ipswich summer transfer target Ross McCormack a doubt while Fede Bessone, Leigh Bromby, Paul Connolly, Ben Parker, Billy Paynter, Kasper Schmeichel and Aidy White make up a lengthy list of absentees. Simon Grayson does however have the services of Robert Snodgrass to call upon after the winger was suspended for the Preston clash.
Player to watch: Davide Somma
He has proved something of a sensation at Elland Road so far this season, and now Davide Somma hopes to continue his good form this campaign with another strong display at Portman Road. The South African striker failed to impress during his first season at the club after moving from Major League Soccer side San Jose Earthquakes in 2009, and subsequently found himself loaned out to Chesterfield and Lincoln City. However, after coming off the bench to score an astonishing brace against Millwall in his first appearance this season, the 25-year-old has suddenly emerged as something of a key player in the team and has since rattled up 6 goals in all competitions, including two on Tuesday night. If Somma does start up front again for the Whites on Saturday, recent performances suggest he could be a handful for the Blues’ backline to contend with.
FLC – (24th) Leeds 1-1 Ipswich (14th)
28 April 2007
Leeds: Cresswell 12
Ipswich: Lee 88
Leeds: Ankergren, Richardson, Foxe, Rui Marques, Gray (Kandol 88), Blake (Moore 82), Kishishev, Thompson, Lewis (Robbie Elliott 77), Healy, Cresswell
Ipswich: Supple, Wright, Bruce, Wilnis, Harding, Peters (Clarke 76), Garvan, Williams (O’Callaghan 63), Roberts, Jeffers (Walters 67), Lee
Town really need to get scoring again, and some Blues fans will no doubt have watched Leeds’ catastrophic collapse during the week with some hope that Saturday could hand Town just the opportunity they need to rediscover their scoring boots. Despite them having had an excellent start considering their status as a newly-promoted side, I know some pessimistic Leeds fans are fearing shipping a lot of goals again at Portman Road, but I personally would be less confident. Keane’s side have not managed three in a league match since the opening day at Middlesbrough, and I still have doubts over whether we can ever manage the kind of romps we used to enjoy in seasons gone by. Despite that, I would be rather surprised if a side that has recorded victories and clean sheets in two out of four home matches this season cannot manage at least a scrappy win against this opposition.
Prediction: Hoping for a confidence boost for Blues – and a blow for Leeds. Ipswich 3-1 Leeds.
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