Pitch battle to get Portman Road ready

THE tent that protects the Portman Road pitch was pitched yesterday with much work still to be done to confirm that Monday afternoon's home Championship game against QPR can go ahead.

Elvin King

THE tent that protects the Portman Road pitch was pitched yesterday with much work still to be done to confirm that Monday afternoon's home Championship game against QPR can go ahead.

Much will depend on the weather over the Christmas weekend, but Blues head groundsman Alan Ferguson is looking ahead to a positive outcome so that Town supporters can have their fill of festive football.

“We have four and a half centimetres of snow on the pitch, which is more than I have known in my time in this job,” said Ferguson.


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“The key is to melt the snow without causing the pitch to be waterlogged.

“We are aiming for a slow thaw with warm air being pumped under the cover.

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“The pitch under the snow is perfect and is frost free.

“I have a timetable, which is what I have achieved before so we are doing nothing new. It is just the amount of snow.

“There has been little movement so far, and if we took it all off in one go there would not be enough room to store it.

“On Monday I used three tractors to clear a training pitch at Playford Road so that the first-team squad could train yesterday.

“We took off over 300 tonnes and there was a three foot wall of snow around the pitch.”

With last week's snowstorms forecast the Portman Road pitch was spiked beforehand so that there is a capacity for water to drain once it does thaw.

“We are having a go,” added Ferguson. “But there is so much.

“Fingers crossed it will clear and the pitch will be in its usual A1 condition.”

Ferguson and his team are good bets to get the job done, unless the weather turns nasty again. The only obstacle to Monday's match going ahead would then be frozen and dangerous conditions in the stands and around the ground.

Ipswich play at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace on Saturday, and the Londoners, who staged a home game last weekend, are expected to put the game on if, as forecast, the weather slowly improves.

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