Marcus Braddock looks ahead to our Sky Bet League One trip to Ipswich Town
This weekend, Shrewsbury Town travel to the far east of Anglia to face Ipswich Town in Skybet League One. It's a little surprising to see the Tractor Boys this far down the league, as they've tended to inhabit the top two divisions in recent decades. However, last season was a difficult one for Ipswich as early-season hopes turned into relegation misery. They started the season with a new manager but it didn't work out and they parted company in October, leaving new manager Paul Lambert with a tough job. In the end, the hole he was left was just too big to climb out of, so now we have our first league visit to Ipswich since 1989.
So far this season, everything is going to plan in League One, for the Tractor Boys they head the table after five games played although they're equal on points with four other teams. Last weekend they played Bolton away and unsurprisingly won 5-0, the third club in a row to score five against the Trotters makeshift team. It was their third win of the season, having beaten Burton away on the opening day and Wimbledon at home 2-1. They also managed draws at home to Sunderland and away at Peterborough but lost 3-1 away to Luton in the Carabao League Cup which means they've not played since Saturday.
So far, James Norwood is top scorer for Ipswich with four goals, all scored in his last three games with two against Bolton. The 28-year-old made the switch from Tranmere Rovers in June and played along-side Ollie Norburn before he joined Shrewsbury. Another Ipswich player who scored twice against Bolton was Kayden Jackson who was with the Tractor Boys last season after a season with Accrington.
As mentioned earlier, this is our first game in the league with Ipswich Town since the late eighties but anyone of a similar age to me will remember when we played them in the early 1980s in the F.A. Cup. It was when the great Sir Bobby Robson was in charge and helping them win the 1978/9 F.A. Cup and the 1980/81 UEFA Cup. It was a golden period for both clubs with Ipswich riding high in Division One and Town playing at their highest ever level in Division Two. Ipswich fans had stars like Paul Mariner, Mick Mills and Alan Brazil and we had our own stars in goalscorers Steve Cross and Jake King who helped us pull off one of the biggest upsets in our history by beating Ipswich 2-1 in 1982. We'd held them at the Gay Meadow 0-0 the previous year but had been well-beaten 3-0 in the replay and we also beat them 2-0 in the cup in 1983/4 but by then Sir Bobby had moved on to the England job and it didn't quite feel the same as the 82 win. The two cup wins make up two-thirds of our wins against Ipswich whilst they've won twelve times in total with nine games ending in draws. Our best league result against the Tractor Boys was a 2-1 win in 1987 but we've never won at Portman Road. Ipswich's best win against us was 5-1 and was achieved twice, once at Portman Road in January 1957 and once at Gay Meadow in 1988 in Division 2.
Trevor Kettle from Rutland. Mr Kettle is a vastly experienced official with well over a decade of EFL games under his belt. This is the first time he's been in charge of a Town game this season but he was in charge when we beat Wycombe 2-1 at the Montgomery Waters Meadow and also when we won 1-0 at home to Coventry City. In the 2017/18 season, he sent Ben Godfrey off during a Football League Trophy defeat at the Meadow and was in the middle for our 2-1 away win at Bristol Rovers.
Sam Ricketts has said that the current injury list won't force any major changes to the way we will be playing.
Paul Lambert spoke of the need for solidarity within the team, after a good start to the season.
Fejiri Okenabirhie will be out of action for a while with a hamstring injury. Sean Goss could feature but it's a little early for Ro-Shaun Williams and Ollie Norburn who are back in light training.
This is the sort of game that you dot want when you've got injuries to key players but Sam Ricketts is keeping positive and why shouldn't he after a good start to the season. The forward line has become the focus of things recently and that's been intensified with the injury of Fejiri Okenabirhie, something Paul Lambert will have noted. Ipswich has kept just one clean sheet so far this season and that surely has to be a target for Ipswich. I'm sure Sam Ricketts will have noted the lack of clean sheets and planned with that in mind. Having said that, with our injuries impacting each area of the team, I'd be happy enough with a draw although I think we can beat anyone on our day.