Within the space of a week, everything has changed. All the doom and gloom has disappeared following two wins against Nottingham Forest and QPR, the latter in front of the Sky cameras, although the Forest win was the first at Portman Road for over two months. Fans are now starting to believe again, and in form like this, Town seem certain for an away win seeing as they have the fourth best form on the road in the division.
Wrong. Opponents Preston have the second best home form in the Championship having lost only three times there this season, so the fixture at Deepdale promises to be one not to be missed.
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Way back on the opening day of the 2008/09 season, the Lilywhites were the first team to visit Portman Road. After having the best home form in the 2007/08 campaign, Ipswich were shell-shocked be defeated 2-1 by Alan Irvine’s men, especially so after going a goal ahead in only the second minute. Revenge will more than likely be on manager Jim Magilton’s itinerary come kick-off.
North End are probably performing above expectations this season, and they are the team that the Blues will hope to replace in the top six come 5pm. They have 53 points from their 34 games, and are in sixth spot. However, they are on the same number of points as three other teams.
Specialist skills coach Steve Foley took over John Gorman’s role as Jim’s mouthpiece this week. He believes that Preston will be a massive game for the Blues and to beat them, they will have to be in top form: “Preston will be a good scalp for us. And in six pointers like this there will be no danger of any complacency setting in.
“If we win we go above them but they will be saying they can go six points clear of us.
“The players will be up because it is a tough game to go to. We just have to play right on the day.”
Preston North End Team News:
Andrew Davies annd Barry Nicholson are the big concerns ahead of the Town test after both picking up injuries in their 3-1 defeat at Southampton last weekend.
Top scorer Neil Mellor and key defender Callum Davidson will both return against the Tractor Boys, although the game comes too soon for Liam Chilvers and Neal Trotman.
Player to watch: Jon Parkin
The big and powerful striker has proved a handful for Ipswich’s defence in the past. Hopefully, the Blues back four will know what to expect. One man and his forklift…! Read a full report on ‘The Beast’ >>>>>
Ipswich Town Team News:
Richard Wright will be between the sticks, hoping to continue his impressive form by keeping a clean sheet, giving himself the best chance to earn himself an England call-up. At the back, Ben Thatcher is a big doubt after sustaining a foot injury in last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. Moritz Volz is likely to come into the side at right-back if Thatcher fails to make it, with David Wright switching to the left.
In midfield, Ivan Campo returned to full training this week although he is still someway off match fitness. Luciano Civelli may continue on the left, with Jon Walters coming into the side on the right after a fine goal last weekend. Alan Quinn impressed against Rangers, while Tommy Miller, David Norris, Owen Garvan and Veliche Shumulikoski will be fighting with him for the two centre midfield positions. Shumi earlier in the week spoke of his frustration at lack of first-team football.
In attack, Pablo Counago and Jon Stead both scored away at Loftus Road and are likely to continue in the same role. The duo have nineteen goals between them this season.
Player to watch: Pablo Counago
He scored his first goal in seven games against QPR, and what a goal it was. The Spaniard proved in front of the cameras that he can be more than a handful for any players in the Championship.
Match Facts & Stats
Referee Steve Tanner will be in charge. You may remember that he sent off Alex Bruce when Ipswich played Wolves earlier this season.
We have everything still to play for, and all the pressure will be on Preston to perform at home once again while also putting right their wrongs from their 3-1 defeat to lowly Southampton last weekend. Heart says 1-0, head says 1-1.
…Ipswich have Southampton at home on Tuesday March 3rd 2009. Kick off at 7.45pm.