Blackpool will be looking for revenge against the Tractor Boys in this afternoon’s FA Cup tie.
Roy Keane’s side recorded a 3-1 victory over the Seasiders at Portman Road earlier in the month – a result that saw Ian Holloway’s men slip out of the top six.
David Vaughan got sent off that afternoon and received a one match ban; a ban that he is only returning from this afternoon after the Seasiders’ last two home games were postponed (meaning that Vaughan observed his suspension in the 2-0 Boxing Day victory over Derby County).
However, with the pitch under covers, Bloomfield Road looks set to host it’s first match for weeks, and indeed the first match of the new year and decade.
Having played only one game over the Christmas period you would expect Ian Holloway’s men to be very fresh and eager to make up for lost time. Then again, they might be a tad short in terms of match fitness and Ipswich are on a good run at the moment.
However, Jon Stead is suspended for Keano’s men as he begins a four match ban, and with the Sesaiders having only played once in the last couple of weeks, Ollie might be less inclined to make as many changes as he might have done (and indeed as he did for the 3-1 defeat last month) had this game come at the end of a busy Christmas period.
The ‘Noughties’ were a very successful decade for the ‘Pool all told… let’s hope that this new decade begins in a similar vein with the Seasiders winning this afternoon and getting themselves in the hat for Round 4.
Ian Holloway admits that this afternoon’s game will be a tough one:
‘They are a good team and Roy Keane is a top class manager and someone who I admire. It’s going to be a very tough test for us but we are at home and we will be full of confidence after winning last time out.’
Blackpool Team News:
Billy Clarke misses today’s game against his old club, sidelined by the injury he picked up in the home defeat against Barnsley at the start of December.
Ian Holloway gave the promising youngster time off over the festive period, but he’s not set to return to action until later this month.
Hamuer Bouazza is also unavailable, having jetted off to represent Algeria in the African Nations Cup (a campaign that could see him miss the entire month of January for the Seasiders), whilst it is also Vital’s understanding that on loan midfielder Barry Bannan will also be unavailable today after Aston Villa refused him permission to play, leaving the Seasiders wide options somewhat stretched.
Defender Marcel Seip is expected to be missing again as well, with widespread reports suggesting that he has joined Sheffield United on loan.
In better news, David Vaughan returns from suspension as discussed, whilst Alex Baptiste may be fit following a hamstring injury, although that is subject to a late fitness test.
Matt Gilks could also return to the fold following a bout of flu over the Christmas period.
Steve McPhee and Danny Coid remain long term absentees, but Daniel Nardiello, recalled from a successful loan spell at Bury, may feature.
Player to watch: Ben Burgess
Big Ben returned to action against Derby County on Boxing Day, and by all accounts produced a great performance.
Ian Holloway and the Seasiders faithful will be looking for him to put in a similar display this afternoon.
Much has been made of sections of the Bloomfield Road crowd booing the striker, but in some ways the new year and decade present Ben with a fresh start and a great opportunity to silence his detractors.
Ipswich Team News:
Jon Stead begins his four game ban, but fellow striker Stern John is available after extending his loan spell with the Tractor Boys.
Arran Lee-Barrett will remain in goal with Richard Wright suspended and new signing Brian Murphy ineligible to play.
Player to watch: Jonathan Walters
The talented attacking wideman had a hit and miss game against the Seasiders last month, but there is no doubting his danger.
With Stead suspended, Walters will be expected to carry his fair share of Ipswich’s attacking threat and add to his tally of six goals thus far this campaign.
Match Facts & Stats
Although they say that the form book goes out of the window in cup games, Ipswich are unbeaten in five against us (three wins and two draws).
Indeed, the Seasiders have not beaten the Tractor Boys since 1978 when they won 2-0 in the League Cup at Bloomfield Road (the only time previous to this afternoon’s game that we have played each other outside of the league).
The Seasiders have only reached the 4th Round once in the past twenty years, and haven’t won a FA Cup match since getting promoted to the Championship!
Ipswich meanwhile, have only lost one of their last twelve and have reached the 4th Round on six occaisions in the last nine years.
Eddie Ilderton from the Tyne and Wear is today’s referee.
He has officiated 19 games this season, dishing out 56 yellows and 2 reds.
He last refereed the Seasiders in our 0-0 home draw with Derby County back in August.
Mr Ilderton will be supported by Gary Beswick and Ken Haydock on the lines, and Mark Astley (a relation a Rick’s?!) as fourth official.