Anybody could tell you that Ipswich Town’s 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Derby on Saturday was a vital result. Defeat or another draw from the team and the alarm bells may of been ringing frantically at Portman Road, but 15 games into the 09/10 season and the Suffolk outfit have finally put a win on the board. Although they remain at the foot of the Championship table, fans danced in jubilation after the final whistle had gone at the weekend; and this hard fought one goal victory will lead them on to piecing together some decent form.
Ipswich’s poor season has surprised quite a lot of people this season. Many people backed Roy Keane to take the club on to the next level and bring success, but quite the opposite has occurred in Keano’s first full campaign in charge. The team has struggled both at the back and front this season, holding the second worst goal difference in the league with only Plymouth keeping them off the bottom spot by one goal. Counago, Walters, Priskin and Stead have accumulated seven goals between them this season and the players at the back have often lacked concentration when under pressure.
Keane certainly has had backing from the board and fans alike. Many other boards would have dismissed a manager who had failed to get a win in 14 games; particularly with the amount of financial backing Keane was given. But it appears that Ipswich are looking at the bigger picture and see this season as part of a jigsaw that will hopefully be completed with the club in the Premiership at some point. Fans have often said that they trust Keane and have kept a lot of optimism throughout the rough period. And why not, its obvious when looking at the clubs squad that they have a lot of quality, including a lot of players Keane knows well and who have a lot of Championship experience.
And I am sure the fans have no doubt that their next fixture away to Reading is just as important, if not more, than the Derby game. Reading are also flirting with the bottom of the table, but managed to beat Coventry convincingly 3-1 and although Coventry also have poor form, nothing should be taken away from their victory. The Madjeski stadium has seemed more like a ruin than a fortress this season, with only 1 goal scored by the club at home in the last 5 games there. Reading must also be aware that although Ipswich just picked up their first victory, they have only failed to score once away from home this season.
But after such a great victory on the road why wouldn’t Reading players feel that Saturday’s game is the perfect opportunity for them to give the home fans something to celebrate about? Over coming a team like Coventry by a comfortable margin will give them all the information they need to let them know that they can come out on top against the teams in a similar situation to themselves. They will look to the hungry Grezgorz Rasiak to fire them to victory on Saturday, as he appears to be one of the only players at the club who has a finishing touch. In their last home game the club had seventeen shots against Leicester and ended up losing 1-0; manager Brendan Rodgers has no doubt attempted to solve their goal shyness.
Ipswich fans will hope that their team will start to finally pick up form and a win at Reading would be the perfect way for the club to do this. Another draw will do nothing special for the club and they really need to beat the teams close to them so they can get away from the foot of the table as soon as possible. The next step for the club is to pick up their first away win of the season and if they can beat Reading on Saturday then it will also help them gain confidence which nobody can doubt the importance of. Jonathan Walters put in a good shift against Derby and Roy Keane will be hoping he can do a similar sort of job and also bag a goal or two when they face Reading. Keane has certainly moved quickly to bring his players back down to earth, criticising their overall performance against Derby.
I would encourage any football fan to keep an eye on this game, even though it could end up being a tense and tight affair it could so easily go the other way. Both teams have just recorded much needed victories and both will see each other as the ideal opponent to get their season back on track. Defeat could see Brendan Rodgers lose his job and despite Sir John Madjeski apparently backing him 16 wins without a win at home may prove too much for the Reading board. Ipswich can’t let a club like Reading get further away from them and they definitely need to string results together to get out of their situation at the bottom of the table. Many people would consider this a ‘6 pointer’, even in November and it will be interesting to see the aftermath of the game; a good result for either team can help kick start their season.