A kind start and end, mega midweeks and two tough runs - Town’s 20/21 fixtures analysed
Ipswich Town finally know their fixtures for the new League One season, starting on September 12. Mark Heath takes a deeper look at the club’s 2020/21 schedule.....
Town have been gifted a rare triple crown in this coming season - home games on the opening day, Boxing Day and the final day of the season.
The Blues start at Portman Road against crisis club Wigan on September 12, host regional rivals Northampton Town the day after Christmas and finish with what could well be a clash against fellow promotion chasers, as Joey Barton’s Fleetwood visit Ipswich on May 8.
Time will tell, of course, just how important that final game will be - but being at home on the last day is always welcome.
After five months of inactivity, September could be super busy for Town - if they stay in the Carabao Cup, they could end up playing eight times!
After starting the season with a home cup clash against Bristol Rovers on September 5, followed by a home midweek EFL Trophy game against Arsenal U21’s, the real business begins as they welcome newly-relegated Wigan to Portman Road. On paper, that’s a great time to play a club in crisis.
Then they travel to Bristol, before hosting Rochdale on September 26. Purely looking at the league fixtures, that’s a decent start.
The first month of the season is set to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning fans will miss the Wigan opener and the Rochdale clash in league action.
With small numbers of fans apparently allowed to return in October, they’ll have a run of three home games to enjoy - Gillingham in the Trophy on Tuesday, October 6, followed by Portman Road clashes with Charlton and Accrington Stanley on consecutive Saturdays.
It is hoped that around 8,500 fans will be able to return - all season ticket holders.
CHRISTMAS & EASTER
As already mentioned, Town will host newly-promoted Northampton Town on Boxing Day, before travelling to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, December 29. They start 2021 at Fleetwood on Saturday, January 2.
As the promotion race hots up over Easter, Ipswich host Bristol Rovers on Good Friday, April 2, before travelling to Rochdale on Easter Monday, April 5.
Those fixtures, so often important as clubs vie for the promotion places, are the reverse of mid-September’s clashes.
Every Ipswich Town fan will be expecting the club to be in the promotion mix heading into their last four games.
If they are, the run-in looks pretty kind.
They travel to Northampton on Tuesday, April 20, host AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, April 24, visit Swindon on May 1 and finish at home to Fleetwood on May 8. That last game could be crucial.
The compressed nature of this season, due to the late start, means there are going to be a lot of midweek matches this season.
As things stand there are 12 scheduled Tuesday night games – five at home and seven away – without taking into account EFL Trophy and potential cup games.
Disappointingly for fans, both matches against fellow League One big boys Sunderland will be played in midweek - away on Tuesday, November 3 and at home on Tuesday, January 26.
Two periods stand out. Starting with Sunderland away on November 3, in no particular order, the Blues also have to travel to Blackpool, Oxford and Peterborough, plus host Hull and Portsmouth, before Christmas.
Then, from the home clash with Peterborough on January 23, Town face Sunderland, a trip to Crewe, Blackpool at home, Shrewsbury away, Oxford at home and Hull away before ending February with the visit of Doncaster.
You get the feeling that February, especially, could be a crucial month.
Town are the joint-fourth favourites to lift the League One title in 2020/21.
Oddsmakers Bet 365 think there are several other teams more likely to win the crown, headed by runaway favourites Sunderland at 7/1.
Peterborough and Portsmouth are joint second at 10/1, followed by newly-relegated Hull and last season’s surprise package Oxford at 11/1.
Town are next at 12/1, along with another relegated side, Charlton.
Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood are behind those, at 16/1.
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