A case of dream or dread

HOW much dare Ipswich Town fans wish for? What is a realistic ambition for this strange season, which has now reached the half-way point?

HOW much dare Ipswich Town fans wish for? What is a realistic ambition for this strange season, which has now reached the half-way point?

A few short weeks ago, most Town fans would have happily settled for simply avoiding the dreaded drop into League One, where nearest neighbours Norwich City and Colchester United are currently plying their trade - rather successfully, it has to be said.

But with an upsurge in form over the last couple of months, sights are being set higher. After their best win of the season so far, the

3-0 victory over Queen's Park Rangers on Monday afternoon, Town are now sixth from bottom and setting their sights on teams in mid-table.

But how far can they go? Are thoughts of making a charge for the play-offs utterly ridiculous?

Let's take the emotion out of the argument, and examine the cold, hard facts, based on the final league table of last season's Championship campaign. We'll take one target at a time, starting with the least ambitious and ending with our blue and white-tinted spectacles firmly on the end of our noses.

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Ambition one: To avoid relegation.

Last season, Plymouth ended in the final safe spot, with a total of 51 points. Town currently have 24 points, having played 23 games - exactly half-way through the season. So, to end with 51, Town need to gain another 27 points from 23 games. That's little more than a point a game. Town could afford to win only eight, draw three and lose 12 of their remaining fixtures. Verdict: They'll do much, much better than that.

Ambition two: Finish 14th, and avoid equalling their worst finish for more than 50 years.

Doncaster finished 14th last season, with 58 points. So, to equal that, Town need 34 points in the second half of the season. Ten wins and four draws would do it, still allowing nine defeats. Verdict: On current form, no problem.

Ambition three: Finishing half-way.

Last year, Bristol City finished tenth, QPR 11th and Sheffield Wednesday 12th, all on 61 points. Interestingly, if Town maintain their form over the last 12 games for the rest of the season, they will finish with 61 points. Verdict: Highly achievable.

Ambition: Play-offs.

Now, here's the big challenge! Preston squeezed into the play-offs last season with 74 points, just edging out Cardiff on goal difference.

That leaves Town needing a further 50 points from their remaining 23 games - more than two points per match. Even Town's recent encouraging form wouldn't get them near that.

To put this into perspective, Ipswich would need to win 15, draw five and lose only three games in the second-half of this season - a very tall order. Verdict: It looks impossible - but miracles do happen in football!

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