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Scout Report: Ipswich - How can Sunderland plough their way through the Tractor Boys?

Sunderland are looking for their first league win since their second outing of the season, but face a difficult task against Mick McCarthy’s seventh placed Ipswich Town. How can we engineer a much-needed victory?

Ipswich Town v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

The story so far...

Five victories and three defeats so far this season for our former gaffer Mick McCarthy - a very decent start for a side with a smaller budget in this division. Ipswich began their season with five straight wins in all competitions, but have since fallen to four defeats in their last five games.

The season began with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Brentford, and was soon followed with impressive away victories against Barnsley and Milwall. A victory over Brentford gave Ipswich a 100% record after four games, but the wheels of the tractor came off somewhat after a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup. Ipswich then lost at home to Fulham and away at QPR either side of the international break - before beating Bolton at home and then losing this weekend to high flying Leeds.

Last time out: Leeds 3-2 Ipswich

It was a disappointing defeat in many ways at the weekend for Ipswich as they fell victim to the ever impressive Leeds United at Elland Road. But Ipswich would have considered themselves very unlucky to walk away from Yorkshire without all three points - never mind coming away with none.

Queens Park Rangers v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship
Mick McCarthy will look to get his boys back to winning ways tonight
Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

A goalkeeping error - and some heroic Leeds defending - gave the hosts an important victory to keep themselves at the top of the league - and keep Ipswich on the outside of the play off places. Leeds were 1-0 up through Pierre-Michel Lasogga before Ipswich pegged them back through a David McGoldrick header from a set-piece. Leeds took the ascendancy almost instantly though through Kalvin Phillips - who slotted a lovely finish into an open net after rounding the Ipswich keeper.

The second half began with Ipswich well in the game despite being 2-1 down, but there was to be a self inflicted sting. A disastrous own goal by Bartosz Bialkowski - in which he caught a corner ball and fell into his own net surely gave Leeds all three points; there was a nervy finish for the hosts, however, as Joe Garner provided a goal just four minutes later in the 71st minute.

Leeds held on for the win, despite having fewer shots, shots on target and corners. Ipswich should consider themselves unlucky to not have picked up all three points.


Ipswich enter Tuesday’s game with no real injury headaches - just ‘tired bodies’, as Mick McCarthy put it in his pre-game press conference.

Flynn Dowes - an 18 year old youth product - will miss the game on Tuesday due to a thigh injury. Long term injuries Adam Webster and Andre Dozzell are also unavaliable for our visit.

Dangerman: David McGoldrick

Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship
David McGoldrick will need to be dealt with by the Sunderland defence.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

I could easily pick Martyn Waghorn as the dangerman for Tuesday’s game - the former Sunderland player is likely to put a kick to our dying season after we chose not to sign him this summer. But Waghorn barely featured on Saturday, so it is possible he won’t start on Tuesday night.

Therefore, veteran striker David McGoldrick seems to be the most obvious dangerman in the Ipswich Town ranks. McGoldrick is not exactly prolific, but he is valued by his team for being a real nuisance to opposition defences. He is physical, good in the air, and and on his day can be a handful to almost any Championship back-line - our leaky lot must look to contain McGoldrick and win the 50-50s if we are to keep a clean sheet.

Referee: Darren Bond

Bond had the privilege of refereeing a Sunderland victory this season - though it was against Carlisle in the Carabao Cup. The referee did give a penalty against Sunderland that night - though it was a correct decision as Papy Djilobodji proved he had no discernible footballing talents.

Ipswich were last refereed by the Lancashire whistler in December of 2016 when they lost 2-1 away at Birmingham. His last visit to Portman Road was last October, when the Tractor Boys were held to a draw by eventually-relegated Rotherham.

Bond has handed out one red card this season and 39 yellows in eleven games.

Manager: Mick McCarthy

We all already know McCarthy from his three year stint at Sunderland - which he incidentally said this week were three of the best years of his life. McCarthy began his managerial career at Millwall before leaving the London club for the Republic of Ireland job in 1996. His six year stint as an international manager ended in heartbreak and controversy - as the Republic of Ireland exited the competition as a result of losing to Spain in a penalty shoot-out in the second round.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

McCarthy left Ireland in November 2002 with a 29-20-19 record and really established the Irish as a good international side. He landed the job as Sunderland manager in March 2003 after being continuously linked with the post throughout the season.

His time at Sunderland had many highs - including promotion and a FA Cup semi-final - but also lows like losing a FA Cup semi-final to Millwall, losing a play off semi final and being relegated twice with record low points. Ultimately though - McCarthy guided Sunderland through a very sticky patch, and came out with an unlikely promotion.

Wolves would be his next destination where he again showed his excellence at Championship level and guided the club to promotion to the Premier League in 2009. He would then be sacked controversially in 2012 - with Wolves outside the bottom three - and was replaced by his assistant Terry Connor who failed to win a single game before relegating the team.

The Ipswich town job followed, and in his four full seasons he has guided the club to 9th, 6th, 7th and 16th, despite working with a limited budget and continually selling his best players.

Statistical analysis...

Ipswich - like most Championship sides - will offer a lot of grit and determination on Tuesday evening. They will present Sunderland with problems because of their work ethic and ability to defend well and as a unit. Furthermore, Ipswich have been very efficient in front of goal this season, so Sunderland will need to make sure their defence is watertight for once.

Ipswich do tend to play a long ball game, and will press Sunderland when they do not have the ball. They like to be direct, and will look to bring their wingers into the game who will run at our full backs. Both sides are combative in the middle of the park, so a midfield battle is very likely to be key to who wins the game. I would suspect we will not see a spectacle of goals, with both teams likely to try to stifle the game the best they can.

Predicted lineup...

Ipswich will more than likely line up with a conventional 4-4-2 formation - as they seem to have done in almost every game they have played so far this season.

Occasionally Mick McCarthy has toyed with a 3-5-2, which he may go back to after seeing the success a lot of teams have had against Sunderland with that formation this season. Martyn Waghorn should appear at some stage - and Sunderland will be wary of his presence as the striker has bagged four goals this season.

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