The climax of the season has finally arrived and Ipswich Town find themselves in a position where promotion to the Premiership via the play-offs is still possible. It is only a glimmer of hope, but this glimmer of hope does require a Town victory. Opponents Hull are still chasing automatic promotion and want to take advantage of any Stoke City slip-up against Leicester.
It’s all a bit complicated. I’ll take you through what must happen to achieve a top-six finish.
Ipswich must beat Hull – anything other than an Ipswich win will mean that it doesn’t matter what goes on elsewhere.
Watford must lose for Ipswich to move above them in the table.
A Crystal Palace defeat would mean that we can leapfrog them in the table.
Wolves can win, as long as Palace and Watford lose.
Palace can draw as long as Watford lose and Wolves lose.
It’s getting a bit complicated, but basically Ipswich require two teams above them to lose to have any hope of reaching the play-offs.
Taking all of this into account, it should be a great season finale with one would expect, many twists and turns to take place.
‘This time last season we had a pretty meaningless game against Cardiff to play, with professional pride and a result to take into the summer at stake only at stake,
‘Now we are 90 minutes away from the Play-Offs perhaps so from that perspective I have to be satisfied with the progress we have made.
‘To go into the last week of the season with a chance of finishing in the top six shows that we have made a steady improvement.
‘We finished strongly at home last season and we have carried that form on all through this year, but on our travels we have been very disappointing. That is something that we have to put right.
‘So while I’m reasonably happy with the progress we have made, we have a long way to go before we are where we want to be.
‘I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t make it to the Play-Offs to be honest. Like most managers in the Championship, I think I’ll look at it as an opportunity lost.
‘But we will sit down at the end of the season and analyse the year. Look at the last nine months from a critical perspective. Then we will move forward.
‘Plans are already being put into place to strengthen the squad. We have watched a lot of games lately and we have our targets, whatever division we are in. We need to be in a position to strike and get players in for pre-season.
‘They have to be the right players, though, players who will buy into what we are trying to achieve here. Inevitably there will be departures as well. That is part and parcel of football.’
Ipswich Town Team News:
Theoretically every player in a Blue shirt could be making their final appearance. Realistically, Stephen Bywater could be playing his final game of his stay on-loan with a permanent deal in the balance. Jason De Vos is expected to retire at the end of the season and could be skippering side out for the final time. Owen Garvan is uncertain over a new contract, while Alan Lee is also a contender to be shown the door in the summer clearout.
As for team news, Ipswich only have long-term absentees Richard Naylor and David Norris unavailable.
Player to watch: Jon Walters
The official and unofficial player of the year will no doubt want to finish the season with a bang. We will need him to perform if we want the win and we will most certainly need his scoring touch.
Hull City Team News:
Henrik Pedersen is the only injury worry Hull will have to deal with after the former Bolton man missed training on Friday.
Player to watch: Fraizer Campbell
The on-loan Man Utd striker has been in magnificent form this season and has been one of the main reasons, if not the only reason, why Hull have rocketed up the table in the second half of the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Out of total 23 league meetings between Ipswich and Hull, Hull CIty come on top with 8 wins as opposed to Ipswich’s 7.
Ipswich lost 3-1 in a horror show earlier in the season against Hull at the KC.
Last season, Ipswich beat the Tigers 5-2 away and drew 0-0 at home in what was then a bottom of the table clash. Oh how both teams have improved.
Andrew Marriner, based in the West Midlands, has officiated in 9 Championship games this season without producing a single red card – a rather refreshing stat! The last time he took charge of an Ipswich Town game was a 2-1 away loss to Cardiff City in the 05/06 season.
Town win. But I don’t think, and I say this with a extreme reluctance, it will be enough to get us a play-off place. Match prediction score: 3-1
A possible play-off semi final at Portman Road? If not, then we wait ’til pre-season!