Tractor Boys

Monday 28 January 2002

From Ian McCulloch...

(Home page image: Graham Leggat: Fulham v Ipswich 1962)

Current Form

Following their four-one mauling in the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester City, Ipswich will be keen to get their outstanding League form back on track as quickly as possible.

After a disastrous start to the season where they won their second game but then went another fifteen matches without a victory, the Tractor Boys have been on an impressive run, winning five out of their last six games.

From being firmly entrenched in bottom place and favourites for relegation, Town are now one place above the drop zone and displaying some of the form that saw them hit fifth place last season and qualify for Europe.

The current form tables show Ipswich in first place with fifteen points from six games, just ahead of Manchester United on goal difference. Fulham are eighth, their two wins, two draws and two losses giving them eight points.

Head to Head

Fulham met Ipswich twice in the First Division two seasons ago, a hard fought goalless draw on Boxing Day at the Cottage being followed by a 1-0 victory for Ipswich, that in all fairness was more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests.

This season's 1-1 draw was definitely a case of two points lost for the Whites, as what looked to be a potentially convincing win was scuppered by Luis Boa Morte's controversial first half red-card for diving.

The last top-flight meeting between the two teams occurred in season 1963-64, a 4-2 victory for Ipswich at Portman Road coming only two days after the Blues were humiliated 10-1 at the Cottage.

Injury Update

Sunday night's game saw two changes from the side which won 3-1 at Derby last weekend - 'flu victim Chris Makin being replaced by Fabian Wilnis and Titus Bramble in for Mark Venus who had a knee injury. Venus has had treatment and an injection but still may not be fit for Wednesday. Jim Magilton is another doubt, a hamstring injury having ruled him out of the City game. John McGreal however did recover and played.

Ulrich Le Pen came on for Hermann Hreidarsson towards the end of the game, making only his second appearance for Town since being injured on his debut against Bolton way back in mid-November.

Danger Man

Striker Marcus Stewart's nineteen League goals last season were instrumental in Ipswich achieving their final top-five place. Although injuries have restricted his appearances this season, he is still top-scorer with nine goals in all competitions. There is no doubt that Town have struggled without the forward's free-scoring form being regularly available.

Fulham defender Rufus Brevett has no doubts about how dangerous the Ipswich hit man can be.
"Marcus Stewart is a good player," Brevett said, speaking after training, "He scores goals, he's strong and he's sharp. But if we're on our toes and focussed then we can get the result that we want.

"We'll approach Ipswich the same as we do every League game, we'll obviously go out and try to win it. They've picked up a lot since the beginning of the season so we know it's not going to be easy. We should have beaten them at our place, but certain things happened which meant that they got away with a point. Hopefully though we can go there and get the three points that we know we're capable of."

Brevett also spoke about how pleased he has been with his own progress this season.

"I think I'm probably in the best form of my career," he said, "I'm really enjoying it and I feel very comfortable. Obviously I'm playing in a very good team and playing with some very good players, and that's got a lot to do with it.

"Playing in the Premiership is fantastic. It really makes you want to do well, everyone's watching you and it's just nice to be doing well in the best League in the world."