Opinion: Reaction to Town fixtures
THOUGHTS ON FIXTURES FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON
BY OLIVER ALLEN
Ipswich Town look to be in for a tough opening month as the highly anticipated fixtures for the upcoming campaign have finally been announced with the opening day tie being against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.
Town will be looking to bounce back from last year’s treacherous season with a strong start and Burton Albion will be a good introduction to League One football and a taster of things to come. A solid and hard-working side, Clough’s Burton will be a tough opponent for Town’s primitive fixture in the third tier. The first home fixture of the campaign has been scheduled against the league’s favourites Sunderland who will be attempting to put last year’s play-final defeat against Charlton behind them and achieve promotion on the second time of asking. The main promotion rival to Ipswich, a home game against a side who is the bookie’s favourite to be champions will be a great opener for League One football at Portman Road. An away day to Peterborough follows which will also prove to be another good test for Town due to United mostly hovering around the playoff places and their significant financial strength which has been shown through record signing Mo Eisa, who will be looking to push his side into the playoffs this term. August then continues with a home tie against AFC Wimbledon and then a trip to Bolton, a side who was also relegated from the Championship last season. Bolton Wanderers’ financial problems and huge amount of departures will make the upcoming campaign a tough one for them and a points deduction from the start of the season will also add to the turbulence surrounding the club at this point in time. On this basis, Bolton should theoretically be a fixture in which Town would expect to gain at least a point but this all dependant on whether they can get a new owner before the season starts. August concludes at home with the ‘Ex-Paul Hurst Derby’ as Town face Shrewsbury Town, another solid League One side.
Mk Dons and Gillingham are two away games most Town fans will be looking forward to and they both coincidently come after each other in the month of September. The Dons will be looking to have another solid season on the back of their promotion last term and the incredible stadium in which they play in will be one in which I imagine many Town fans will want to go to. Gillingham is also an interesting away day due to the stand in which travelling supporters occupy, as it is completely open air and has no roof.
Town will play local rivals Southend United at Roots Hall in October and at home in April; a fixture which I cannot wait for due to the fact that we are clearly the side their fans are most excited to play. Coventry City away will also be an interesting fixture as we will be travelling to St Andrews of Birmingham City due to their recent ground sharing agreement. Disappointed is an understatement as an away day at the Ricoh Arena was one which I was looking forward to the most, but St Andrews is a solid ground to visit.
The congested festive period of the season is in one which could make or break Town’s season and it looks to be a mixed bag as there are some tough games against Lincoln and Portsmouth, but Wycombe, Fleetwood and Accrington Stanley should all be matches where Town should be gaining three points.
The end of season seems to be a difficult one as Town take on Southend, Bolton and Rochdale at home in the month of April and the final away game which concludes the month is a tough one as the Blues will take the long trip to Doncaster Rovers who will also be looking for promotion in the upcoming season. The final game of the season is at home to MK Dons which could be potentially crucial for either side with different objectives for this campaign. MK Dons will be looking to avoid relegation back to the fourth tier after scraping promotion last year and Town will hopefully be within at least the playoffs when this game occurs.
Overall, I am fairly satisfied with the fixture list due to the interesting ties and potentially brilliant away days that are upcoming. The standout fixtures for me is the opening home game against Sunderland, Portsmouth away during the Christmas period and the final away game against Doncaster as for me all these fixtures could prove so crucial if Town is to go straight back up to the Championship.