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It’s time for Episode VI of Ipswich Town v Fleetwood Town.
The Blues lead the series by three wins to two, with the first five games between the two teams certainly not lacking in incident.
Joey Barton, the former Fleetwood boss, was at the heart of the first two, questioning whether Ipswich’s promotion bid was ‘built on solid foundations’ and insisting Paul Lambert’s squad were ‘the worst Ipswich team in history’ going into the first meeting in October of 2019.
Kayden Jackson won the game for Town that day, but Barton’s comments were proved to be well-founded, as Lambert’s men fell away. Fleetwood’s 1-0 victory at Portman Road the following March, just before football’s Covid shutdown, played a part in that.
On the face of things, Fleetwood sit 19th in League One and should be beaten by teams with promotion aspirations.
But we all know it doesn’t work like that.
The Cod Army, now managed by Stephen Crainey after Simon Grayson’s exit, have proven a tough cookie in recent seasons and, though they’re winless in eight games, there are reasons to be fearful.
They’ve drawn five of those eight games, including 3-3 thrillers with promotion-chasing Plymouth and Portsmouth, and beat leaders Rotherham recently.
“There’s so little between the teams at the top and the bottom,” boss McKenna said ahead of this game. “It’s such fine margins between not getting results on a weekly basis and getting results
“Their home record has been really good. They’ve had MK, Plymouth, Rotherham and Cambridge and they’ve not lost any of them. Obviously they beat Rotherham.
“They went away to Portsmouth last weekend and were 3-0 up at half-time against a good team.
“As I’ve said, every game is a challenge. You can’t take anything for granted in this league because there are random results every weekend. We’ll certainly respect Fleetwood for their strengths and their threats. We know it’s going to be a big challenge and that we’re going to have to be at our very best.”