Tommy aiming to end play-off jinx
Tommy Miller's personal record in play-off matches down the years does not bode well for Ipswich's forthcoming two-legged showdown with West Ham.Three times the midfielder has appeared in these tense end-of-season affairs and three times he has ended up on the losing side.
Tommy Miller's personal record in play-off matches down the years does not bode well for Ipswich's forthcoming two-legged showdown with West Ham.
Three times the midfielder has appeared in these tense end-of-season affairs and three times he has ended up on the losing side.
The 26-year-old knows he is due his share of good luck in the play-offs - and he intends to start this new trend at Upton Park today.
“I've been involved in the play-offs for three years now - twice with Hartlepool and once with Ipswich - and I've lost them all,” he recalls.
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“So it's about time I won one. They feel like cup finals to me. They are all massive games.”
His first dose of play-off heartache came in the old Third Division in the 1999-2000 season when Pools lost both legs to Darlington.
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This was followed 12 months later by a second dose of agony, when the side from the north-east were comprehensively brushed aside by Blackpool, again both home and away.
Last season's Championship play-offs with Ipswich also ended in misery, with West Ham overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit to emerge 2-0 winners in the return fixture.
Easington-born Miller feels the Tractor Boys are ready to erase that memory by turning the tables on the Hammers.
“We know we can beat anyone on our day,” he continued.
“We know our away form has not been the best this season, but saying that we are still quite confident going into the game, just like we were last season.
“Darren Bent scored the winner in the first leg but Matthew Etherington scored a great goal and then when (Christian) Dailly scored at the end, we were absolutely devastated.
“But we have come back strong this year and played some really good football.”
Unfortunately that was not enough to earn Joe Royle's men a place in the Championship's top two, slots eventually claimed by champions Sunderland and runners-up Wigan.
And so another play-off campaign looms for Ipswich, their sixth in the last ten seasons.
Reserve keeper Lewis Price has recovered from the bug that laid him low earlier in the week and will be in his usual place on the bench.
Royle has to plug the gap caused by the absence of left-back David Unsworth, who has returned to Portsmouth after the expiry of his loan deal.
Fabian Wilnis is favourite to switch to the other flank, with Drissa Diallo making his first start since December at right-back, although Matt Richards is also available as a straight replacement.