This week we speak to Liz Edwards, Chair of the Ipswich Town Supporters Club, to find out how the Tractor Boys are feeling ahead of our visit to Portman Road on Saturday, and to get some useful tips for City fans making the journey to the game.
HC: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Liz. Ipswich seem to have put a good little run together at exactly the right time having lost only once in the last eight games. How pleased are the fans with the team’s form at the moment?
LE: Our good little run goes back to the start of Mick McCarthy's reign as manager. Our league form since that time would see us fourth in the table which is a huge achievement, given that we only had seven points from 13 games when he joined. There are fans who still complain that we are not playing attractive enough football, but the vast majority are very happy - of course.
HC: Having had time to settle into the job, is Mick McCarthy really starting to put his mark on the team and style of play?
LE: You bet. We are not really scoring goals, but we have pretty much stopped conceding too. We have kept nine clean sheets in our last 12 games and our style is gritty, determined, scrappy and hard-working. Mick is a Yorkshireman, of course, and you'll be impressed at how he has turned an East Anglian side into his own image.
HC: Who would you say has been your key player in recent weeks?
LE: Despite our fantastic defensive record, our Man of the Month must be club skipper Carlos Edwards, switched back to his familiar right-midfield position, who has twice scored match-winning goals very late in the game (home to Bolton, then in the 93rd minute at Derby). Those goals were alone worth four league points, which makes the difference between mid-table and desperation.
HC: With five games to go, how are you viewing the closing weeks of the season?
LE: It would take one heck of a bad run for us to go down now - it isn't out of the question, but there is no mood of gloom or real concern right now, and the dressing room is said to be very positive. Of course that could change if we lose the next couple of home games!
HC: What sort of game are you expecting against Hull City on Saturday?
LE: We won't be scared by your form or league position, and we certainly fancy our chances. Our record against top sides isn't too bad, and so far no team has "doubled" us. But we have still had the odd defeat, Brighton at home on New Years Day 3-0 was a bit of a shock to the system, and more recently 2-0 at home to Watford, so we are not unbeatable.
HC: For any Hull City fans that might be arriving in Ipswich early on Saturday, what is the jewel in the Ipswich tourist crown?
LE: If you are in colours, you will find pub choices a bit restricted (the old Station Hotel, now called the Riverside is the official away pub). For others, the Good Beer Guide lists some fantastic ale houses, a couple with 20-30 ales on tap. The marina area has been vastly improved in recent years, with bars and restaurants, and lots of boats, of course. For the more cultured, Christchurch Park and Mansion is at the top of town.
HC: Do you have any other advice or local knowledge for City fans who might be attending Portman Road?
LE: There is loads of car parking, including right next to the away end, with spaces usually up until pretty late. If you want to make a quicker escape afterwards, though, the station car park is a good option, or free street parking in the roads off Gippeswyk Avenue (yes it's a strange word - it is the old English word for Ipswich!). As above, away fans are strongly encouraged to meet in the Riverside Hotel, right opposite the station and only a five minute stroll to the ground. The Town centre is five minutes beyond the football ground, and has a wide range of bars, pubs and restaurants, and still a few shops.
HC: Finally, do you have a score prediction for Saturday’s game?
LE: Given that this is the Championship, prediction is a dangerous game. Our recent form suggests you might struggle to break us down, and we might struggle to score - but I'll plump for 2-2 just to be different!
For ticket information ahead of this fixture, please click here