Fuller Flavour: Play-offs out of reach? I'm starting to change my mind...
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town fan Karl Fuller shares his thoughts on the Blues after the weekend win over Burton Albion...
Kayden Jackson in his own words says that he ‘feels like a footballer again’. Well, I feel like a fan that is connected to my club again.
In truth, I have felt like that off-the-field since our new ownership has been in place. But the days of enjoying watching what is on the field are back again. A full package that I hope will continue to prosper.
On a day when some of us had a Kell Brook v Amir Khan Boxing contest to look forward to in the evening, this game dished up the perfect starter to whet the appetite.
After Jackson’s early knockout punch sealed the first round, Town weathered a mini-storm where Burton, to their credit, had us on the ropes.
From their excellent dead-ball situations, Christian Walton had to be alert, whilst Lee Evans was well-placed to clear an effort off the line.
My concerns for the rest of the first-half were hoping that the weather would ease up. My row B seat ensured that I was thoroughly drenched and the pitch was getting a little bit too watered for my liking. That said, we were still singing in the rain and enjoying the day.
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Once the clouds cracked, blue in the sky showed its colours. Then so it did on the pitch also and the rest of this bout became a one-sided contest.
This was another truly professional display. Kieran McKenna seemingly cannot do anything wrong right now. The majority of fans at 2pm would have seen the line-up and raised an eyebrow or two.
With Jackson and Joe Pigott starting and the likes of Celina, Chaplin, Norwood and Bonne warming the bench, there would have been a time not so long ago that I would have questioned that. But now, I just trust McKenna in everything he does.
The three points and the clean sheets are the important gains of course. But during his short tenure to date, McKenna is bringing the best out of Luke Woolfenden, Lee Evans and now Jackson.
If ever we needed a knockout punch to seal our win, it is mad that a League One club can then bring on the likes of Conor Chaplin, Bersant Celina and James Norwood.
I doff my cap to Kayden for his performance and when a player is substituted to an ovation that he received, then you cannot feel anything but warmth for the guy. And this came on the back of his 100th Town appearance too.
The gap is closing nicely on the play-off places and not just the sixth place that we were hunting down. From fourth place to about tenth now, it could be any three teams from seven.
Hopefully that particular picture will look even better after tomorrow night’s game against Cheltenham.
The Robins have been on a pretty impressive run lately. One defeat in nine (even that was a narrow 1-0 loss at Rotherham) has seen them beat Sunderland yet draw six of those games including away at Oxford and Saturday’s incredible 5-5 draw at Wycombe.
That is a sort of run that in the not too distant past, I would have been slightly concerned about. But right now, with no arrogance or disrespect intended, I fully believe that we will come out on top again. I have faith that at Portman Road especially, we are playing that well at the moment.
So has my stance changed to that of when McKenna first arrived at the club when I thought the play-offs were out of reach? Let’s just say the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction.
I have some reservations and they are a couple of heavyweight bouts over Easter. A Good Friday trip to Rotherham backed up by a Monday game at home to Wigan will be a true test of our improving credentials.
A trip to Oxford and home games against Portsmouth and Plymouth in March will also tell us more. But we have reasons to be more hopeful than ever in this season of what is becoming one of two halves.
If we can keep the current form going, steer clear of injuries and keep trusting the process, then we could just be the side that sneaks into one of those much-coveted spots.