Town look to break back into the top six with a victory against Oxford

The Build-Up

Town host Oxford United on Saturday afternoon, looking to make it back-to-back wins after last weekends thumping of Burton Albion. However, despite the win, Paul Lambert’s men remained outside the play-offs as Sunderland and Portsmouth also claimed maximum points.

Much has been made of Town’s below-par home form this season and with eight of the remaining 12 fixtures being played at Portman Road, the result, and performance against Burton were equally as satisfying for all concerned with Ipswich.

As for our opponents, despite a dramatic dip in form, similar to Town’s prior to Christmas, Oxford will still pose a completely different threat to the Brewers. Karl Robinson’s side, who have the highest percentage of possession this season in the league, have only picked up one win since the turn of the calendar year prior to Tuesday’s 5-0 thumping of AFC Wimbledon. A run of form which has seen United go from promotion favourites to outsiders for a play-off spot.

Team News

Tomas Holy will continue in goal behind the back three of Luke Woolfenden, Josh Earl and Luke Chambers.

Gwion Edwards will retain his place at right-wing back, while former Oxford loanee Luke Garbutt, will operate on the left hand side.

Flynn Downes could be partnered again with Jon Nolan in midfield or Lambert may opt to select Emyr Huws ahead of the former Shrewsbury man. Huws’ passing ability may be a preferred choice against the ball playing Oxford. Alan Judge, fresh from his two goals last weekend, will continue in his advanced midfield role.

In attack, Will Keane and Kayden Jackson will continue their recent partnership with James Norwood ruled out until February. Keane played a part in three of the four goals last weekend, two of which were scored by Kayden Jackson. Freddie Sears will be ready in the wings on the bench, possibly joined by young striker Ben Morris.

Focus on Oxford

We caught up with our ‘expert’ Dale Ventham ahead of Saturday’s clash between Ipswich and Oxford at Portman Road.

Since the turn of the New Year, our play-off mount has taken a significant nosedive. However, a 5-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night has made the push look possible, now just five behind Portsmouth.

Yes, it’s frustrating considering that not too long ago we were 2nd, but these things happen and it’s incredibly tight at the top.

A win this week would certainly help. We travel to Ipswich, who themselves had had an inconsistent with time recently, who sit just four points ahead of us.

The result against Dons has boosted confidence, with James Henry netting, while Matty Taylor and Nathan Holland both bagged a brace. We also welcome back Alex Rodriguez Gorrin from suspension.

I want to say I can predict an Oxford win, and although it could be possible, I’d settle for a 1-1 draw.

Manager Thoughts

Paul Lambert, just like last week, has reiterated that the top two is still the priority for his side and is looking for his side to build on last weekends win against Burton.

“There is a long way to go yet, a lot of football to be played,” the Town boss writes in his column in Saturday’s matchday programme.

“We had a good win against Burton last week and now we have to build on it. 

“It looks like it will go down to the wire because things are changing every week in the top six but we are in a good position. The top two was the target when we started the season and it still is. We’ll see what happens.”

Oxford boss Karl Robinson is looking forward to a trip to a famous old ground. “It’s a special place to go and play” he told iFollow today. “I said to the players this morning that you won’t play at many ground with traditions like this one. It’s always a club you know is waiting to kick off again and they are still in a good position in the league and we will have to be at our very best to get anything.” 

Last month saw the teams battle out a draw in atrocious conditions at the Kassam Stadium, a match Robinson won’t be taking much from:  “No, I think the only thing I took from it was that we are two very honest teams and somehow we put on some sort of display for the people who came to the stadium. We’ll be fine- we just trained today in an absolute downpour as well so we’re getting used to it!”

Previous Meeting(s)

Games Played: 19 Ipswich Wins: 8 Draws: 6 Oxford Wins: 5
Last game: Oxford 0 v 0Ipswich, Saturday 14th January 2020

Man in the Middle

Referee: Scott Oldham
Games this season: 29
Yellow Cards (Red): 81 (04)
Last Town game: Rochdale 0 v 1 Ipswich, November 2019