Ipswich: Town fans set for biggest away match since San Siro

IPSWICH: A blue and white wave of hope and excitement swept over Ipswich today on the eve of one of the biggest fixtures in the Tractor Boys’ recent history.

An army of 9,000 fans are expected to make the 82-mile door-to-door journey to the Emirates for the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Arsenal tomorrow.

Suffolk has been gripped by cup fever since Town’s famous first-leg victory – and the buzz has been heightened following the 3-2 win against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

Colin Kreidewolf, secretary of the club’s supporters’ trust, said fans were looking forward to a memorable night in north London.

“It’s certainly the biggest game the club has played since at least the last play-off match, so it’s a massive game,” he said.

“I was very pleased after the first leg that we got a win because it restored some pride after the 7-0 mauling at Chelsea. If we can somehow pull off the shock result of the season, that would be fantastic.

“We start off with a one goal advantage but I think it’s going to be exceptionally difficult.

Most Read

“Even so, I hope everybody has a good day. I think they’re going to enjoy themselves and get behind the team.”

Dozens of coaches packed with Tractor Boys fans will be making their way to the biggest away match since the trip to Inter Milan’s San Siro in 2001.

And the Emirates is expected to be filled to its 60,000-seat capacity.

Ipswich Town legends Allan Hunter and Brian Talbot have even more reason than most to want a win tomorrow.

The pair memorably played in the winning team which triumphed over Arsenal in the 1978 FA Cup final at Wembley, and they are keeping their fingers crossed for a similar result tomorrow night.

Former central defender Hunter said: “I kept telling my friends they would win the home game 1-0 and they all laughed at me because of the previous result, the 7-0, so I felt quite good when people then had to keep coming up to me and saying I was right.

“Everybody keeps harking back to the cup final when we played Arsenal, and with a bit of luck and a bit of the determination that they showed on Saturday you just never know.

“They’re very much the underdogs, but if they just do what they did in the second half on Saturday, you never know.

“Let’s hope at least that they put on a fantastic show.”

Meanwhile former midfielder Talbot, who now lives in north London, will be at the match.

“I came up for the first leg and Ipswich played superbly and they deserved to win,” he said. “I think it will be a different story at the Emirates. Arsenal know they have got to score two goals to go through so I think they will play a stronger team.

“But Ipswich have got nothing to lose – they’re not expected to go through so they’ve got everything to play for. They’ll run faster and longer, and they’ll close down quicker and be more determined.

“No one can predict the score, so it should be interesting and an exciting night for Ipswich fans.

“It will be a great night for them. Whether they’ll go home happy we will have to wait and see, but at the end of the day, if they get a good performance, I think they will be pleased with that.”

If the team manage to get through tomorrow, they will go on to face either West Ham or Birmingham in the final at Wembley.

n Tell us how you will be cheering on the Blues tomorrow night. E-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk