Andy: I'm not affected by abuse

IPSWICH Town fans who give Andy Marshall stick are wasting their time."It does not affect me," said the 27-year-old goalkeeper, who has a key role to play in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Sheffield United tomorrow.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town fans who give Andy Marshall stick are wasting their time.

"It does not affect me," said the 27-year-old goalkeeper, who has a key role to play in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Sheffield United tomorrow.

The verbal abuse has eased off in recent weeks, but there are still some sections of the Portman Road crowd who cannot forget Marshall was signed from arch-rivals Norwich City.

"It is a price I have to pay," said Marshall. "Having played for the Canaries I expected it to haunt me. I put my head down and get on with it.

"The majority of fans are fantastic and know that I am here to do a job. It is a job for Ipswich Town and not for Norwich City.

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"When I make a mistake it is a genuine one and not because I once played for Norwich. My only aim is to get Ipswich Town back into the Premiership.

"I have explained to Joe Royle that the criticism goes over my head. I can handle it and am

hardened to it. It is something I expected."

Marshall, who is certain that Town will reach the First Division play-offs and that the Canaries will miss out, has been receiving a better reception in recent weeks.

He is winning over doubters, in the same way Royle – another ex-Norwich man – did since his arrival at Portman Road.

Away from home, the hassle has not been so bad for a keeper who has generally looked more

confident since his return to the side when loanee Paul Gerrard was injured before the Watford home game on December 14.

Town have not lost since then, having started a run of nine unbeaten games in the previous 1-1 draw at Brighton.

"The players stood in the changing room at Brighton gutted at dropping a point to the bottom-placed club," continued Marshall. "We were dreadful in the first half but much better in the second.

"I was confident in the week leading up to the next match that we would beat Watford. The

self-belief had returned to all of us.

"Joe and Willie Donachie made slight alterations in their first six or seven games. Then we suddenly hit form.

"We are scoring goals at one end of the park, and doing much better at the other. In midfield we are now keeping the ball – it all adds up to a recipe for success.

"I know the importance of clean sheets as the feeling among the players these days is that we will always score goals. We would not have said this nine games ago.

"Ideally, it would be nice to keep picking up league points now that we are in this mood, but the FA Cup is a pleasant distraction and we feel we can beat anybody.

"Sheffield United are doing really well and both sides will want to get a result on the day. It may be a blessing that they played extra time at Liverpool in the Worthington Cup on Tuesday as fatigue may set in."

Marshall is settled on the Suffolk/Essex border with wife Claire and loves this part of the world. The Manchester-born keeper moved to Norwich as a 16-year-old, but has no plans to go back to Norfolk.

And he does not see a successful future for his former club, where he won England Under-21 caps.

"We will finish in a play-off position, but I don't think Norwich will," he predicted. "We will

certainly finish above them, and I forecasted two months ago that Norwich would slip.

"They do not have strength in depth to maintain a challenge. Manager Nigel Worthington has done well, particularly last season when they were one penalty kick away from the play-offs."

Having a settled back line over recent weeks has helped Marshall, who is right when he says that luck has not always been on his side this campaign. He is man enough to admit his errors, but there have been times when situations have been made to look worse than they are.

"It appears to be much better now, but earlier in the season every rebound seemed to go to an

opposition player. The ball did not run kindly.

"Having Matt Holland, Thomas Gaardsoe and Chris Makin providing consistency in front of me has made my job easier. It is perhaps what I needed, although I don't want to take anything away from the other lads who have played at the back.

"I can anticipate what Matt, Thomas and Chris are going to do now. I am aware of the balls they will go for and the ones they will leave to me."

A second Bramall Lane clean sheet tomorrow – following the 0-0 league game – will see Town with at least one foot in the lucrative fifth round.

And the way Marshall is feeling at the moment he is up for the task.

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