|A Familiar Foe In Uncharted Waters – Burton Away Preview|
Written by portmantales on Wednesday, 31st Jul 2019 09:26
The Football League has finally returned. Since our long-forgotten victory against Leeds, England have won the Cricket World Cup, Boris has taken his seat on the Iron Throne and James Norwood has found himself a new home in Suffolk.
The first day of League One feels like moving to a new school, many new people to meet, lots of new places to see and you are just trying your best not to get bullied.
Our early opposition, Burton, Sunderland and Peterborough, are all familiar territories from our recent Championship campaigns and I don’t think it will be until AFC Wimbledon arrive in town that we finally accept the true level that we find ourselves at.
However, Burton have changed as a team since Bersant Celina curled in that last winner on our last visit so lets have a look at what we will be up against on Saturday:
Firstly the constants – Nigel Clough, Lucas Akins, John Brayford and Jake Buxton have all survived their demotion two seasons ago back to League One and all remain key members of the club. Burton are certainly a team who have historically performed to a higher level than the sum of their parts, with few outstanding players at League One level and a small squad that Clough looks to extract every ounce of ability from.
Last Season 2018/19 was a season of two halves for Burton. Their league position was constantly being held back by their poor start in which they suffered four losses in their first five games.
The turn of the year saw Burton emerge a robust, hard to beat unit. Only six losses in their final 23 games (three of these coming in their final four) propelled them from 15th to ninth, unfortunately the season ended too early and despite minimal flirtation with the play-offs, no success was forthcoming. An admirable finish but one that Nigel Clough will be seeking to improve upon.
Their poor start to the season could be attributed to an inspirational Carabao Cup run from the Brewers. Only bowing out to reigning Premier League champions and eventual treble winners Manchester City in the semi-finals.
A run that saw them dispose of higher placed opposition in the shape of Villa, Burnley, Forest and Middlesbrough. This shows that on their day Burton can be more than a match for anyone, let alone Ipswich who are now a divisional rival once again.
System Burton fans are expecting a 4-3-3 formation, with Liam Boyce leading the line as a lone central striker. He is likely to be flanked by the experienced Lucas Akins on one side, with much debate occurring as to who their second winger will be.
The centre of midfield has seen the loss of linchpin Jamie Allen to Coventry. Therefore, further pressure will be imposed onto Stephen Quinn, brother of Alan, to keep things ticking over for Burton.
Another key loss over the summer has been centre back Kyle McFadzean. The former MK Dons defender also joining Coventry City after 108 appearances. Club captain Jake Buxton still remains the central figure in the Burton backline although I have never been entirely convinced with Buxton’s defending and hope this will be a weakness Ipswich seek to expose.
Joining Buxton in the backline is summer signing John Joe O’Toole – formerly of Colchester and Watford, a player who was certainly set for big things during his time with the Hornets however his CV now replicates that of a lower league journeyman. His conversion to centre-back from midfield is a cause for concern for Brewers' fans and feels more like a temporary stopgap than a permanent solution.
With Marvin Sordell retiring this week, Burton currently only have three recognised strikers in their first team squad, one of these being Chris Beardsley who also serves as the club’s sports scientist.
Currently he has only made one appearance for the Brewers therefore it is safe to assume he will not be playing a key role in Saturday’s fixture – on the pitch at least. However throughout pre-season they have been sampling trialists including Oliver Sarkic from Leeds United – who may potentially be signed prior to the match.
Ones to Watch Liam Boyce. Burton’s record signing took a while to find consistent form due to a serious knee injury that cut short his debut season with the club. Last year in League One Boyce began to find his scoring boots with 14 goals, making him joint-top scorer with Lucas Akins, and more recently scored two goals in Burton’s final pre-season game against Chesterfield.
The Northern Ireland International uses his intelligence to gain a yard on defenders, ghosting into the box to finish with lethal effect. He will be looking to target any inexperience in the Ipswich backline to capitalise on sluggish defending.
Standing at six-foot-tall Boyce is also more than capable of challenging in the air to both score and assist. A quiet day for Boyce will go some way to ensuring a positive result for Town.
Former Town Stephen Bywater. Alex Bruce’s best friend is still part of the Burton squad. The 38-year-old made 10 appearances for Burton last season and is not expected to start on Saturday, however he has been given minutes throughout pre-season to maintain fitness in case he is required.
Travelling Tips On previous visits to Burton The Beech Inn has been a recommended haunt due to its proximity to the ground, Sky Sports license and the ability to park the car there for £5. The benefit being that after the 10-minute walk back after the game the roads will be a clear allowing an easy ride home.
Parking is always interesting at Burton, due to only a small number of home fans attending games I often see their cars simply being abandoned on grass verges next to the main road beside the stadium. Whilst I cannot comment on the legalities of such a move, I will say that it looks a pain to get out of their spots at full time so advise town fans to find appropriate parking spaces.
Prediction Whilst certainly being a winnable fixture I feel that if Town’s front three click then it will be a long afternoon for the Brewers, however, the inexperienced nature of our backline also gives cause for concern.
I predict a 2-2 draw with all goals coming before the hour mark before a tepid end to the second half in which the natural cautiousness of not wanting to lose an opening match will dawn on both sides.
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