Opposition Focus: Fleetwood Town
We check in with our Promotion Race ‘expert’ Alexander Redford ahead of Tuesday’s clash between Ipswich and Fleetwood.
Thanks for taking part in our Opposition Focus, can you tell me a bit of background between you love for the Cod Army?
I’ve been following Fleetwood since I moved here and every so often as a child I would go to see them with my family. When I was of age I began going myself, and once I had a regular group I would go every game.
How would you describe your season so far?
This season was seen before it started as the season where if it would ever happen, it would (promotion) this year. I must admit we all got ahead of ourselves after the opening day rout at Peterborough. However, our form seemed to drop as other teams started to find their feet with new signings, staff etc.
The most memorable moment for me being an away loss at bottom placed Bolton in November, we seemed to go slightly downhill since that game. After we had a small break in January, we assessed our damage (from our dip in form) and see how / where to improve. The manager brought in some big signings (more on those later) and has propped us up well for the end of the season.
You currently sit eighth, two points outside of the top six. Would finishing outside the play-offs now be seen as failure?
We sit eighth place having drawn on Tuesday and having a game postponed (Saturday’s game at Tranmere Rovers). In my opinion, the play-offs and dare I say automatic promotion is still in touching distance for any club in the top ten.
After our new unbeaten run, as pointed out by the manager, the whole town is starting to believe (we can get promoted) and you can really feel that every Saturday / match day.
It would be a disappointment to not reach the play-offs, but I’ll be proud of the team and manager for their efforts this campaign.
You seen to always have games in hand, currently two, are you worried that the squad might fatigue at a crucial point?
I could see us fatigued during the tricky run of games in between Boxing Day and New Year. But if we do clinch a place in the top six, the squad will indeed be tired and rotation will be paramount to our success.
Last time out you drew away at Sunderland, courtesy of a late late goal, does that show how far you’ve come to be disappointed only with a point?
The late goal, which as I look at it now, was because of time-wasting after we scored (early in the game), which seemed to be the tactic employed for the Portsmouth game (which Fleetwood won 1-0).
It was frustrating (to draw the game), but I found myself disappointed that we had thrown it away. It did seem a marker to how far we have come, not just this season but in the last ten years.
Joey Barton will be in the stands at Portman Road, serving the first of his two game ban, tell us bit about having Barton as your gaffer?
Joey Barton earned himself a bad boy reputation on and off the pitch in his player career, and he had carried it over to his managerial career too.
He’s accumulated a number of bans, a few were unjust but there will never be much room for appeal when he has a name like Barton. This particular ban has seen him sidelined for Ipswich and Blackpool, two very big games.
What side are you expecting to see at Portman Road, will it be unchanged from Sunderland?
The side at Sunderland has not been changed for a couple of weeks now, and with no injuries or bans we should be set for the same side.
Cairns, Coyle, Souttar, Gibson, Andrew, Burns, Coutts, Whelan, Connolly, Madden, McKay.
Who has been your standout player(s) this season, the January signings of Whelan, Gibson and Connolly seem to have given you a boost?
The winter signings have provided a massive boost to the dressing room, Whelan, Gibson and Connolly have looked amazing since coming into the side.
Paddy Madden is our top scorer and has good and bad spells. Souttar has done well (in defence) with crucial last man tackles, but has made mistakes in the air which is surprising considering he is 6’7!
You face an Ipswich side who have nose dived from top to ninth and who now needs to win virtually all of their remaining games, does that worry you about Tuesday night’s clash?
I believe Ipswich will be fighting for their lives in a desperate attempt to gain promotion. It is still possible for Ipswich (to make the play-offs), they have the squad and the backing from their fans to do it. They are not out of it just yet, there is always time for a late push and I suspect if there will be two teams battling it out on the final day Ipswich will be one of those teams
Town will be without Kayden Jackson, James Norwood and Flynn Downes, three key players. Surely this is a game you should put us to bed and move back into the top six?
The strong Ipswich squad happens to be riddled with injury, so the luck seems to be clearly in our favour. This leaves Ipswich with limited attacking options, but may not be easy to play against if they chose to opt for the defensive style of play.
I would hope to win because we are similarly placed in the league but you do have a large home advantage as Portman road is one of the biggest and nicest grounds in this league.
Our attackers have broke through some of the most solid defences in the division, so I believe we will definitely score. But, Ipswich are well regimented and organised so the final score could come in the form of a well deserved point each.
Fleetwood scorer: Barrie McKay
Ipswich scorer: Emyr Huws