Blackburn v Ipswich
Live on Sky Sports 2
Rovers are ninth in the table and will finish there regardless of the result here as they are well adrift of Wolves and Brentford above them but also four points clear of Charlton in 10th. They are unbeaten in their last six in the league, although four of those have been draws, with strike duo Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes in red-hot form recently.
Both netted in the 2-2 win draw at Huddersfield last time out and the 2-0 win over Millwall prior to that. And Gestede struck a hat-trick at Forest before that meaning he has 19 goals of the season, just one behind his partner. Whether either will be at Ewood Park next season remains to be seen – the Benin international certainly looks like he’ll be moving on.
One man who definitely won’t be around next season is Rovers legend David Dunn, who will leave in the summer. He hasn’t started a league game this season (his last start was in the FA Cup in January) but don’t be surprised if Gary Bowyer picks him here on what will be an emotional day for the stylish midfielder.
Mick McCarthy’s side need a point to be sure of their place in the play-offs and could still make them even if they are beaten and Brentford and Wolves fail to win or don’t win by enough to overturn Town’s goal difference, which is currently +19 compared to the Bees +16 and Wanderers’ +12.
Town do have the poorest away record of anyone in the top eight with just seven wins from their 22 games away from Portman Road this season and they haven’t been in great form on their travels in the last six – one win (admittedly at Watford), one draw and four defeats.
What has helped them move to the verge of top six spot, though, is the introduction of Freddie Sears up front to take some of the pressure off top-scorer Daryl Murphy. Sears, who cost £100,000 from Southend in January, has scored nine goals and the pair have formed an old-fashioned big man/small man strike combo for Town, setting each other up for their goals in last week’s vital 2-1 win at home to Nottingham Forest.
The market makes the away side [2.24] to book their place in the play-offs in style with a win, while Rovers can be backed at [3.6] to end the season on a high. Given that Bowyer’s men have 10 home wins to their name this season and Ipswich’s strength is their own home form I won’t be backing the visitors at that price.
I do like the look of the draw at [3.4] though, knowing this outcome would ensure McCarthy’s men extend their campaign by at least two games. His side may not possess the most talented individuals of those in the promotion race but they are arguably the most dogged and know how to grind out a result when required.
A point here might mean Derby leapfrogging them into fifth place but given that could mean avoiding meeting bitter rivals Norwich, who already done the double over them this season, I think big Mick may well consider that a decent outcome. Rovers have drawn four of their last five and would also consider a point a reasonable enough end to the season so that’s the first recommended bet.
McCarthy will without doubt set his side up here to keep it tight and not give anything away, knowing a draw is all his side need for that top six finish for the first time in a decade. Although Rovers have undoubted firepower upfront, nine goals in the last four games illustrates that, they could be in for a frustrating afternoon in the face of a dogged defensive effort from the visitors – see that performance at Vicarage Road for reference.
A goalless draw isn’t out of the question but it’s worth noting both sides have scored in each of Ipswich’s last six matches so I’m going to cover a couple of bases by backing 0-0 and 1-1 in the correct score market to half-stakes at [11.5] and [7.0] respectively.
Back the draw at [3.4]Back 0-0 and 1-1 in the correct score market to half-stakes at [11.5] and [7.0]
Staked: 136 pts
Returned: 133.60 pts
P/L: – 2.40 pts
*2pts best bet if stated
1pt other recommended bets