Norwich City ready to do double on Ipswich Town
If Norwich City are going to maintain the pressure on their automatic promotion rivals, they are going to have to do something they have only managed twice in almost 60 years – complete a league double over Ipswich Town.
Having demolished their Suffolk foes 4-1 at Carrow Road thanks to Grant Holt’s hat-trick back in November, the Canaries travel to Portman Road tomorrow night (7.45pm) sitting third in the Championship – just a point behind Cardiff in second, who play on Saturday.
Norwich’s earlier kick-off means a chance to put pressure on the Bluebirds and in-form Reading, fourth. But a win in Suffolk would bring City only their fifth league double over the arch enemy.
In fact, in the 34 seasons sharing the same division since 1952, the Canaries have only come out with maximum points against Town in two campaigns – which ended with contrasting fortunes.
In 2003-04 it was all about the title as Norwich went top of the old Division One with victory at Portman Road, before a 3-1 home win helped take them to the riches of the Premier League.
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However, the only other double success in half a century came in the top flight nine seasons earlier – where a 2-1 win in Suffolk was followed up by a 3-0 win at Carrow Road in March 1995. However, that was City’s only win after the new year, enough to see Norwich’s Premier League status disappear.
“You normally get a draw or a defeat at some point against your local rivals, especially down their place; it’s very unusual to get two wins,” said former City star Darren Eadie, who played in both victories – and scored at Carrow Road – during the 1994-95 season.
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“It’s the intensity, especially when there is so much riding on it. Probably the second derby of the season is the most important purely for the fact there isn’t one until the season after, and if Norwich manage to go up they are not going to have one for a few years. So it’s vital to finish on a key note of winning that derby game, the last one you played in.
“That’s the one, the last one, that will stick in the memory the most, and if you win it you can live on that for months.”
Ipswich have completed five doubles over Norwich in the last 60 years, and just two since 1962. This season there is only one aim – to put a dent in City’s back-to-back promotion aspirations.
“It’s probably fallen for us in the right situation,” added Eadie. “We are looking to get promotion automatically and I’m hoping a few of those at Ipswich might be looking at their holidays rather than the game – as a fan, that’s the way you’d like to see it!
“After the season Ipswich have had, the one thing they do have to play for is local pride. But Norwich have got a lot more at stake than Ipswich, and that will make us more driven.
“It’s going to be a really tough game, we all know that. But I actually think it’s going to be a little easier for us than if Ipswich were still struggling. Because they are in midtable obscurity, it makes for a better game for us and probably a more open one, which seems to suit us.
“It’s going to be really exciting end to the season to be honest. I don’t think you can call it because no one knows how it’s going to finish. We all hope it’s us because there is no one who wants to finish in that dreaded third sport. It’s very rare that team goes on and gets promotion through the play-offs.”