The occasion

Ipswich Town fans hope that MK Dons will not visit next season and that their team will play championship football.

But, as long as the Blues are in League One, it’s probably one of the first games to look out for when the schedule is released.

This is because Town fans are getting used to taking over Stadium MK as, for the second successive season, nearly 7,000 prepare to travel west for an away game.

East Anglian Daily Times: Almost 7,000 fans to watch Town at MK Dons this afternoonAlmost 7,000 fans will be watching Town at MK Dons this afternoon

It was an impressive sight last year and it will be again, with more than half the crowd dressed in blue, giving their side a real advantage as they fill the stands behind one of the goals.

Town are looking to back up last weekend’s 4-0 win over Forest Green with another three points this weekend and if they do, it will be the first time they have collected back-to-back wins since October.

Regular wins are required at this stage of the season, with Ipswich certainly not giving up automatic promotion despite both Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth being eight points behind.

Of the remaining 14 games, I would certainly place this one in the ‘must win’ group, along with home games with Burton and Accrington in the coming days.

A real opportunity to build momentum.

East Anglian Daily Times: Massimo Luongo is a possible starting option for Town this afternoonMassimo Luongo is a possible starting option for Town this afternoon (Image: Steve Waller)

The team

Logic suggests, following a 4-0 win, that today’s Ipswich will look very similar to last weekend’s.

There will likely be adjustments, of course, but we can probably safely assume that most of the starters who helped beat Forest Green so easily will retain their spots.

However, there are two or three areas of note.

The first is in midfield, where Massimo Luongo performed so well as a substitute last weekend at a time when talented teenager Cameron Humphreys has been showing understandable signs of fatigue.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson has put in some impressive performances of lateKayden Jackson has put in some impressive performances lately (Image: Steve Waller)

On a poor pitch (more on that shortly) that could make skillful passing football difficult, Luongo’s physical presence could prove useful alongside Sam Morsy.

Conditions can also have an impact on which striker is selected. Freddie Ladapo came off the bench and scored last weekend, but George Hirst’s more direct driving might be preferable.

The other area is the right side of attack, where Kayden Jackson has been in impressive form for an extended period, when given the chances.

Could someone come for him this afternoon?

East Anglian Daily Times: Liam Manning was sacked by MK Dons in DecemberLiam Manning was sacked by MK Dons in December (Image: PAGEPIX LTD 07976935738)

The opposition

The last time Ipswich Town brought 7,000 fans to Milton Keynes, it was to face a side from the Don firmly in the fight for promotion and packed with talented young players.

However, things are very different now.

MK are in a relegation fight, sitting 22nd in the table and with the worst home record in the division, having won just twice all season against Port Vale and Forest Green Rovers.

Scott Twine, Harry Darling and David Kasumu moved on to the Championship in the summer and the size of Liam Manning’s task to regenerate his squad was made abundantly clear at Portman Road in August, when they were soundly beaten 3-0 by the Blues. They looked like a shell of the equipment we had seen before.

Manning was sacked in December and replaced by former Leeds manager Mark Jackson, who oversaw a busy January transfer window and a change in playing style to prioritize power and pace on the counter-attack, rather than technical football played. under Manning.

Today’s challenge will be different from what MK Dons has us used to, but surely Town has more than enough to face it.

The tone

Adding to that challenge is, as mentioned above, the state of the MK Dons pitch.

The stadium surface is well beyond its expected useful life, some seven years, and is showing extreme signs of wear. It is almost impossible for the ground crew to handle it.

What the ground probably didn’t need was an England women’s international being played last week, although hosting the European champions’ game against South Korea was clearly a real honour.

East Anglian Daily Times: Stadium MK pitch has recently come under fireThe Stadium MK field has recently been criticized (Image: PA Images)

Speaking after the match, England manager Sarina Wiegman called the surface “unacceptable”, which is of course not a great sign for an Ipswich side who pride themselves on keeping possession.

However, McKenna doesn’t seem overly concerned.

“I don’t think it’s very different than what we face most weeks,” he said.

“We’re getting to the end of February now and we’re used to the fields we play on, so we’re going to go there and attack the game.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Legendary commentator John Motson passed away this weekLegendary commentator John Motson passed away this week

the tribute

Before this afternoon’s kick-off, both teams and everyone inside the stadium will pause to remember the legendary John Motson.

One of soccer’s true voices passed away on Thursday at the age of 77, drawing tributes throughout the game.

Motson went to school in West Suffolk, wrote a regular column on Town’s matchday show in the 1970s and also owned shares in the club. He also spent many years living in a village on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, which means he has strong ties to both current teams.

His life will be celebrated with a minute of silence before the start of the match.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieran McKenna takes his side for MK Dons this afternoonKieran McKenna leads MK Dons on his side this afternoon (Image: Ross Halls)

The prediction

Like last weekend’s game with Forest Green, this is a contest Ipswich should win.

And I think they will. It may not be easy, given the conditions, but I think Ipswich will have too much.

I’m going for a 2-0 Town win.


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