RANGERS will be looking to bounce back from their 3-3 draw away to Wolves after three times surrendering the lead to their West Midlands counterparts.
Ipswich will be looking to continue a recent trend of winning form, dispatching of Charlton and Scunthorpe in the build up to the clash with the R`s at Portman Road.
With Ipswich making Portman Road a real fortress this season, it would be a real achievement for the R`s to come away with the maximum.
Luigi De Canio spoke about the referee once again after the final whistle:
‘That wasn’t the only pearl from the referee today. He damaged us considerably throughout the game.”
But he was also had some words for his own side:
‘But we have to accept responsibility for this result and for the fact that we did not win. We didn’t kill them off in the first half when we had the chances to do so.”
‘Obviously I am upset to see us concede such a crucial, late goal, but I am more disappointed that we didn’t finish the game off by half time.”
‘Even in the second half we had several opportunities, but did not take them.’
‘It is something that we are missing from our game. And it is something that great teams need to have. Clearly we are not a great team yet.’
Martin Rowlands was forced to leave the field in the first half, with Gigi uncovering the problem:
‘He was suffering with a neck injury, which is why we took him off.”
‘We missed the dynamic edge he brings to the midfield, but that isn’t the reason we drew this match, we made mistakes in other areas of the pitch.’
Ipswich Town Team News:
After failing in their attempt to sign a Premier League striker on loan, Jim Magilton looks set to keep faith in his current squad for the duration of the season. However there are several key exclusions from the squad to face the R`s on Saturday.
Pablo Counago`s appeal against a red card for spitting at Scunthorpe defender Jack Cork, was rejected and he will not play a part in this weekends encounter. Richard Naylor will also miss the tie owing to a neck injury, which he is soon to have surgery on.
John Walters continues a growing trend for the Tractor Boys following surgery, he will look to be back in contention for any potential playoff games. Shefki Kuqi, who was back on loan with Ipswich from Crystal Palace, suffered a hamstring injury in his first game back and remains doubtful for this weekends fixture.
Influential midfielder David Norris has also been struggling with a heel injury, but will also be looking to be involved on Saturday.
Player to watch: Alan Lee
The Galway Born striker has been in impressive form this season, but will no doubt be forever immortalised by the footballing fraternity after scoring THAT goal to send Leeds United down at Elland Road. This season Lee has bagged 10 goals from 34 starts, making him the clubs third highest goalscorer behind suspended Pablo Counago, and injured John Walters.
Lee started off as an apprentice at Aston Villa, where he was sent out on loan to Port Vale and Torquay United respectively, accumulating 4 goals from 18 appearances in the combined loan spells in the 1998/99 season. He played in one of Port Vale`s many victories against the R`s at Vale Park, it ended 2-0 in May 1999.
After making the switch to Burnley in July 1999, for a £200k price tag he failed to make an impact with the Clarets. He made 19 appearances, primarily from the bench, and only scored once, in the LDV Vans trophy away to local rivals Wigan in a 2-1 defeat.
He started the 2000/01 season on loan at Rotherham, where it took him only a few months to impress the Millers faithful, before being signed permanently in an audacious £150k price tag. He made 121 appearances scoring 40 goals over a three-year period.
Rotherham certainly made a profit on the Irish striker, with Cardiff City snapping up his services for £850k. Lee faced Rangers twice in the 2004/05 season, in Rangers 1-0 win at Loftus Road, and Cardiff turning that scoreline around, 1-0 at Ninian Park. He faced the R`s at Loftus Road once again in December 2005, once again it was another 1-0 to Rangers at Loftus Road.
In his three years at Ninian Park, Lee scored 12 goals from 96 appearances, and Ipswich lured the services of the striker in a free transfer. He subsequently went on to play and win against the R`s twice last season, he played alongside Simon Walton in a 3-1 Ipswich win at Loftus Road infront of the Sky camera`s, and he scored at Portman Road in a 2-1 win. The striker also played in the 1-1 draw at Lo
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers have a couple of concerns going into Saturday`s fixture. Damien Delaney picked up his tenth yellow card of the season, only four of them with the R`s, but albeit will serve a two game suspension, the first being this Saturday. Chris Barker could be set for a sensational return at left back, however Gigi may shuffle the pack to accommodate the loss.
Martin Rowlands has suffered no further ill affects after being withdrawn with a neck injury in the 3-3 draw with Wolves on Saturday, and so is in contention for a starting place this weekend.
Hogan Ephraim is set to return to the R`s line-up at the expense of Dexter Blackstock, with De Canio set to put Rowan Vine back in his preferred striker`s role.
Player to watch: Akos Buzsaky
After being named in the Championship Team of the Week following a scintillating display against Wolves, Buzsaky will be looking to continue his good run of form into the Ipswich game.
Another goal in that game makes him the Rangers top scorer once again with ten goals for the campaign from midfield.
From his 24 starts since joining the R`s from Plymouth he also tops the assists chart, with 6 assists to his name. Certainly a creative outlet and formidable opposition on his day, he will be looking to inflict an unlikely defeat on the Tractor Boys.
Match Facts & Stats
It`s only 1 defeat in 8 now for the R`s, who certainly look to be in resurgent form going into the final phase of the season. The defeat at Hillsborough marked an upturn in form with the R`s winning two and cruelly drawing at the weekend.
However one of the big talking points has been Rangers slightly patchier form on the road. Saturday`s draw meant that they have failed to win on the road since early February at Southampton, that result also was their one and only away win this year.
After a rocky end to February and a dismal start to March, the Tractor Boys have begun to pick up some form with two back to back wins. Losing away at Barnsley in the manner they did, 4-1, will have no doubt upset the Ipswich faithful.
Much has been made of the exemplary home form that Ipswich hold, losing only once at home all season, and were it not for their away form, they would be up in the automatic promotion places.
Ipswich narrowly have the better of the head to head, winning 22 games to Rangers 19, with 16 draws. It will be a difficult task for Rangers to get another in their win column this weekend.
Last time out
28th April 2007- Portman Road
Ipswich 2 (Lee 26, Walters 54)
QPR 1 (Furlong 71)
Rangers Team: Camp, Mancienne, Cullip, Stewart, Timoska, Rowlands, Bolder, Lomas (Smith 82) Ainsworth (Furlong 63) Cook, Jones.
Attendance: 21, 412
Last time out
15th December 2007- Loftus Road
QPR 1 (Nygaard 73)
Ipswich 1 (Legwinski 53)
Rangers Team: Camp, Mancienne (Nygaard 55) Stewart, Cranie, Barker, Ainsworth (Moore 67) Bolder, Leigertwood, Rowlands, Ephraim, Vine
Referee– P Armstrong
Assistants – I F Bentley & C J Francis
Fourth official – G R Russell
For a full report on the match official click here
This is always going to be a tough game with the home record that Ipswich have, but records are there to be broken, and I have every confidence in our players to pull off a narrow win; That`s why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-0 Win
For all the latest match odds click on www.williamhill.com
Who– Preston North End
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 5th April 2008: 3:00pm