Odds stacked against Town in cup tie

ON paper Ipswich Town have precious little chance of stinging the Hornets of Watford in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth round tie at Vicarage Road.The odds are stacked against them as they go into their most high profile game of the season.

By Elvin King

ON paper Ipswich Town have precious little chance of stinging the Hornets of Watford in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth round tie at Vicarage Road.

The odds are stacked against them as they go into their most high profile game of the season.

However, the long dramatic history of sport's most romantic competition is littered with shocks and surprises.


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And Blues manager Jim Magilton and his team could well be the team on everybody's lips tomorrow night - with a place in the barrel for Monday's quarter-final draw secured.

There is always hope and Ipswich supporters will be bolstered by the following:

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1: Staying in the Premier-ship means an estimated extra £30million for Watford. There focus must be more on survival than the FA Cup - with a crunch game against Wigan at home on Wednesday.

2: Ipswich have nothing to lose, everything to gain and can play without pressure.

3: Town players have the incentive of knowing that notching the winning goal or having a storming game can make them overnight stars and be the centre of the media spotlight.

4: Ipswich players will have 4,500 fans cheering them on and they will be buoyed by the atmosphere Blues' fans create.

However, there is another side to the coin and there are also four reasons why Ipswich could travel back to Suffolk tomorrow with their season for all intents and purposes over.

1: The Blues have failed to beat any of the last seven Premiership clubs they have met in the competition since they won a replay at Blackburn Rovers in 1996.

2: Watford may be bottom of the top flight, but they have won at West Ham twice in recent weeks and are showing their best form of the season.

3: Ipswich are down to the bare bones as far as players are concerned with first choice strikers Alan Lee (suspended) and Jonathan Walters (cup-tied) plus injuries to other key players.

4: Town have not scored on their travels for three games, and last found the net at Coventry on Boxing Day. They also struggled to get beyond League One Swansea and League Two Chester in the two previous rounds.

Dean Bowditch is set to be in the Town squad after recovering from a groin injury. Magilton also has 19-year-old strikers Billy Clarke and Danny Haynes at his disposal, while George O'Callaghan can play in a forward role.

Watford are set to be unchanged with new England cap Ben Foster in goal.

Hornets' manager Adrian Boothroyd said: “We have got three home games on the spin and if we can get a winning run together it could make all the difference.

“It would be great to reach the quarter-finals. Sometimes the cup can distract from the league, but I think it can do the opposite.

“We won't take Ipswich for granted. We know all about them and I have seen them a couple of times.

“On their day they can be exceptional and beat anybody in the Championship, but they also have off days as well.”

Watford have not qualified for the last eight since reaching the semi-finals four years ago.

Tomorrow's squads

Watford: Foster, Mariappa, Mackay, DeMerit, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli, Henderson, Kabba, Priskin, Bangura, Shittu, Ashokodi, Hoskins, Lee, Chamberlain.

Ipswich Town: Price, Wright, Bruce, Wilnis, Harding, Peters, Legwinski, Currie, Roberts, Clarke, Haynes, O'Callaghan, Bowditch, Richards, Supple, De Vos, Naylor, Sito, Casement.

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