Last time these two sides faced each other, it was an edgy scrap against relegation. This time, Watford and Ipswich could find themselves unlikely rivals for the Championship playoffs.
After an excellent start to the campaign which only QPR and Cardiff could better, Town’s league form has gotten a little wobbly in recent weeks. After amassing 10 points from their first four games, the Blues haven’t yet managed the same tally in seven matches since, the latest being a very ineffective performance against Coventry City resulting in defeat at Portman Road on Saturday. Thanks to a pretty tight and typically topsy-turvy division so far this season however, the dip in form has failed to have much of an impact in the table, where Ipswich still occupy the last of the playoff places – albeit now 5pts behind second, and only 5pts above 16th.
It is a situation that few would probably have predicted after the struggles of last season, but surely even fewer would have then foreseen Tuesday night’s opponents being in the same position. Much like Town, last season was one to forget for Watford, who didn’t secure their Championship status until the penultimate game of the campaign, despite a vital win over the Blues in their last meeting at Vicarage Road. Now, things are very different. By comparison to Ipswich, the Hornets did not get off to the best start with just one league win in August, but an excellent 10 point haul in September – including their stunning 6-1 demolition of Millwall – has brought them to 5th place on an equal points tally with Town. Tuesday’s match comes as a welcome return to home turf for Malky Mackay’s team after two away matches, the last being a 3-2 defeat at Portsmouth. As things stand, the form book would suggest that the hosts are probably favourites for this match – but as we know all too well, the Championship is rarely that predictable.
After missing out for the match against Coventry, on-loan midfielder Jack Colback may get his chance at Vicarage Road on Tuesday. Ipswich manager Roy Keane revealed that the new signing is very much in his thoughts.
Keane told the Official Town Website: ‘We have been talking to Jack and his agent for a while and we’re delighted to have got him back to the Club.
‘It was always going to be too late for him to be involved at the weekend but he will be looking to get going straightaway on Tuesday.’
Sure enough, Jack Colback himself has expressed his eagerness to return to action in a Town shirt after completing his move last Friday. Explaining his decision to rejoin the Blues, the 20-year-old told the Official website: ‘I know the club, I know the staff and the players and having enjoyed my time here last year, that was important.
‘Now I’m looking forward to playing some games, although I know I’ve got to get in the side first and that’s going to be difficult because the team is doing well.’
Not as well as it has been, Jack! But with any luck, the youngster’s contribution will help Town rediscover that early season fire.
Watford Team News:
Watford will be without Don Cowie for Tuesday night’s clash after twisting his knee ligaments during Saturday’s defeat at Fratton Park. The Scottish international has started all of Watford’s 11 league matches so far this season but could be set for a layoff depending on the results of a scan, with youngster Michael Bryan possibly in line to replace him. Ross Jenkins has an ankle injury and is a doubt, but substitute goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin is fit to return to Malky Mackay’s squad having recovered from a thigh problem.
Player to watch: Marvin Sordell
If you’d said the name to anyone last season, you’d probably have been greeted with a rather loud ‘who?!’ But anyone who follows the Championship this season should already be aware of 19-year-old Marvin Sordell. Having struggled to break into the Hornets first team since emerging from the Vicarage Road academy in 2007, Sordell has suddenly become a major fixture in the Hornets team this season. With 5 goals in 10 league starts, the striker is second only to fellow frontman Danny Graham in Watford’s scoring ranks, and on Monday was named the npower Football League Young Player of the Month for September. Sordell failed to find the net in his side’s last outing at Fratton Park, but back on his home turf, he will want to get back to scoring ways against Town on Tuesday night.
Ipswich Town Team News:
After the poor display at the weekend, Roy Keane will probably shuffle things around for the trip to Vicarage Road. One player who will definitely not feature is Mark Kennedy after the full-back suffered a hamstring injury very late on in Saturday’s match. The former Cardiff defender is expected to be sidelined for around three weeks, joining Darren O’Dea and Alan Quinn on the injury list. Damien Delaney and Shane O’Connor could be in line to take Kennedy’s place with both recovering from long-term injury setbacks, while Luciano Civelli may just get an opportunity in the squad as he looks to make his league comeback after over 18 months on the sidelines. Meanwhile Jack Colback is expected to make his first appearance since rejoining from Sunderland last week.
Player to watch: Jack Colback
We named him as our Player to Watch for the Coventry game on Saturday only for him not to feature. As mentioned earlier however, Jack Colback is much more likely to make an appearance as Keane looks to rejuvenate his team at Watford. Town’s Players’ Player of the Season for 2009/10 is likely to be remembered by Watford fans too – he scored the equalising goal for the Blues in the last contest between these two teams at Vicarage Road in March. Unless he is kept out by unforeseen circumstances, his appearance is likely to attract the attention of the travelling fans on Tuesday night – even more so if he can perform like he did last year.
FLC – (19th) Watford 2-1 Ipswich (17th)
16 March 2010
Watford: Lansbury 7, Hoskins 77
Ipswich: Colback 68
Watford: Loach, Mariappa, DeMerit, Doyley, Taylor, Lansbury (Harley 85), Cowie, Cleverley, Eustace, Helguson (Graham 72), Hoskins (Jenkins 80)
Ipswich: B Murphy, Delaney, McAuley, Rosenior, Leadbitter, Garvan (Martin 23), Colback, O’Connor, Walters, D Murphy (Counago 78), Wickham (D Healy 78)
I was at Vicarage Road on that cold evening in March, and what an utter waste of time that evening proved to be!! One of the single worst Town performances I’ve seen live, and Colback’s goal was the only saving grace for what otherwise felt like a wasted evening as we tumbled back into relegation trouble. Such a prospect won’t be a concern on Tuesday, but Town do need to get themselves going again if they aren’t to start sliding down the table at an alarming rate of knots. To be honest, given that I will again be hopping on the train down to Watford Junction this week, I get the sinking feeling that this isn’t going to be the match that sees us get our groove back. I was wrong about thinking we would beat Coventry on Saturday though, so maybe I’m just clueless when it comes to predictions – as my mid-table position in the Vital Ipswich Prediction League would suggest…!
Prediction: Town to struggle for goals again and get stung by the Hornets at the back. Watford 2-0 Ipswich.
Make your prediction for this match by joining the Vital Ipswich Prediction League! Click here for details or here to post your entry for this week’s fixtures. (Entries must be posted by 7:30pm on Tuesday.)
23/10 FLC Nottingham Forest (A)
26/10 CC4 Northampton Town (H)
30/10 FLC Millwall (H)