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Can Ipswich Town finally make October a month to remember?

PUBLISHED: 10:10 09 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:28 09 October 2017

John Fleck celebrates scoring in Sheffield United's morale-boosting 4-2 win at city rivals Sheffield Wednesday last month. Photo: PA

John Fleck celebrates scoring in Sheffield United's morale-boosting 4-2 win at city rivals Sheffield Wednesday last month. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town have won just one game in the month of October over the previous five years. STUART WATSON looks at the fixtures ahead.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy ponders on the touch-line during the recent 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City. Photo: Steve Waller Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy ponders on the touch-line during the recent 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City. Photo: Steve Waller

Sheffield United (a)

Date: Saturday, October 14

Current position: 3rd

Form: LWWLWWWLWLLWW

Sheffield United were dubbed the ‘Norwich of North’ by Town fans after several memorable and often feisty clashes with Neil Warnock’s men in the late 90s and early 00s. It’s a fixture that has not been played for six years following the Blades’ relegation, but now they are back.

The Bramall Lane outfit claimed 100 points and scored 92 goals last season to claim the League One title. Winning is a habit and they’ve kept the momentum going, claiming seven victories from their opening 11 league games.

Chris Wilder has overseen promotions from the National League (Oxford), League Two (Northampton) and League One now. You wouldn’t bet against him adding the Championship to that list at some stage.

There are no ‘star names’ in the ranks. The summer recruitment was a mix of experienced Championship players like former Blues loanee Richard Stearman and veteran striker Clayton Donaldson, established lower league men like Enda Stevens and George Baldock, as well as young Premier League loans likes Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jamal Blackman.

Angus Gunn is in goal for Norwich City. Ipswich Town fans will still remember his father, Bryan, producing a comical air kick as Rob Ullathorne scored an own goal in the East Anglian derby of 1995/96 at Portman Road. Photo: PA Angus Gunn is in goal for Norwich City. Ipswich Town fans will still remember his father, Bryan, producing a comical air kick as Rob Ullathorne scored an own goal in the East Anglian derby of 1995/96 at Portman Road. Photo: PA

Striker Billy Sharp, once heavily linked with Town, is the danger man. He’s scored four in seven so far, having netted 30 last season.

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Norwich City (h)

Date: Sunday, October 22

Current position: 9th

Form: WWDWWDWLWLWLWD

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough faces a tough task to keep the Brewers in Championship. Photo: PA Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough faces a tough task to keep the Brewers in Championship. Photo: PA

Town may be wishing this fixture had come just a few weeks earlier, as it did last season, as that lot up the road seem to ominously be getting themselves together after their new era got off to a shaky start.

It’s a continental style operation up the A140 these days, with sporting director Stuart Webber overseeing recruitment and German head coach Daniel Farke, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund’s second team, focussing on the training field and tactics.

In the first few games an inflexible pass-out-the-back approach was disastrous. A high press easily undid them and they were comprehensively beaten by Sunderland, Aston Villa and Millwall.

Since then there’s been a remarkable transformation from flaky defence to steely operators. Since that 4-0 humbling at The Den, they’ve gone seven undefeated, conceding just twice.

German trio Timm Klose, Christophe Zimmermann (centre-backs) and Tom Trybull (midfield) have been key, but without the injured Alex Pritchard in midfield and a shortage of striker options there has been a lack of goals (11 in 11).

Town, as if you need reminding, haven’t won an East Anglian derby since 2009. For the first time in a long time though they go into this game not the outright underdogs.

• ‘I don’t think the lads have anything to fear’ – Blues legend on the games ahead

Cardiff City's Kenneth Zohore is attracting Premier League interest. Photo: PA Cardiff City's Kenneth Zohore is attracting Premier League interest. Photo: PA

Burton Albion (a)

Date: Saturday, October 28

Current position: 21st

Form: LLDLWDLDWWLLWL

Town did do the double over Burton last season, but were given a tough examination on both occasions. And the Brewer’s 2-1 home win over Fulham last month was a reminder of what they are capable of.

This is the difficult ‘second season’ for the Staffordshire side though after they beat the odds to finish 20th in the club’s first-ever season at second-tier level.

Replicating that feat is going to be a tough task for Nigel Clough given star midfielder Jackson Irvine departed for Hull this summer, while the spine of last season’s side was built around loan players who needed replacing.

They’ve lost their last two games 4-0 – both at home – against Aston Villa and Wolves. They’ve scored just six and conceded 23.

• Goals, entertainment and game-time for kids – Town have ticked plenty of boxes

Cardiff City (a)

Date: Tuesday, October 31

Current position: 1st

Form: DWWDLDWLWWWDW

The Welsh dragons are breathing fire as veteran boss Neil Warnock works his magic on yet another club.

Top of the table, they have seven victories to their name – including the notable scalps of Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Wolves and Leeds.

Winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has been a revelation after a nomadic life in the lower leagues, while Danish striker Kenneth Zohore is attracting plenty of Premier League attention.

Town have to contend with a 240-mile midweek trip too.

• Former Town star calls for consistency from players

An Ipswich family are celebrating their fifth generation of girls – saying the birth of baby Florence Jean is ’a dream come true’.

An online GoFundMe appeal has been launched in support of an Ipswich mother of six who died following an accident on the A12 last week.

Senior leaders at the University of Essex have expressed their delight as new rankings saw it enter the Complete University Guide’s top 30 for the first time since 2010.

The Duke of Cambridge will be Prince Harry’s best man at his highly-anticipated royal wedding to Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace has confirmed.

An elderly pedestrian suffered minor injuries after being knocked down by a mobility scooter in Stowmarket.

Police are appealing for help to trace a wanted 28-year-old man with links to Stowmarket.

A Suffolk town’s former deputy mayor has proposed a vote of no confidence in the council he resigned from and which serving members have branded “broken and dysfunctional”.

An Ipswich man has been jailed for a terrifying axe attack which sparked an armed siege and left his neighbour fearing for her life.

Rail conductor/guards working on Greater Anglia trains have called a second one-day strike in early May – but the company insists passengers will not be affected.

A second person has been charged with the murder of Colchester man Martin Dines.

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