Sports Betting Weekly

Norwich v Ipswich Town

When: Saturday, 16 May 2015 @ 18:15 (FINISHED)
Where: Carrow Road
Following the 1-1 draw between the two sides in the first leg, Norwich City and Ipswich Town will go into the second leg knowing that it will now be a case of do or die for the two East Anglican rivals as the pair gear up for a possible trip to Wembley.

Jonny Howson put Norwich into the lead during the first half at Portman Road, only for Ipswich winger, Paul Anderson, to equalise four minutes later on the stroke of half time as Mick McCarthy’s side finally ended their dismal run against their closest rivals.

Prior to that 1-1 draw, Ipswich had lost 2-0, 1-0, 5-1 and 4-1 – conceding an average of three goals a game – and you could see on the supporters’ faces just how much that Anderson goal meant, simply because of the psychological lift ending that abysmal losing run provided.

With the Tractor Boys already seen as underdogs going into the play-offs, the fact they got through the first leg unscathed has taken a lot of pressure off the club – though they will have to address their patchy away form this season if they are to stand any chance of progression.

Having gone from losing twice on the road in 15 outings – a run which also saw a seven-match unbeaten spell away from home – Ipswich then won just two of their last 10 away fixtures, including losses to two relegation battlers at the time in Rotherham United and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Thankfully for McCarthy’s men, although Norwich’s home form under Alex Neil has seen the Canaries pick up seven wins from a possible 11, City have lost three times under their new manager’s stewardship at Carrow Road – to Brentford, Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough.

Remarkably, Ipswich have a slight advantage going by the form book, as Neil is yet to lose an away match with his Norwich side – so with the Portman Road game now out of the way, questions about whether City can hold their nerve on home soil will no doubt be asked here.

Indeed, the home loss to Middlesbrough showed that there was a possible pressure issue within the squad, with the Canaries then sitting second in the league and looking incredibly strong before they went down 1-0 to an Alexander Tettey own goal. While Boro are a very good side at this level – proved by the fact they finished third – Rotherham stayed up by the skin of their teeth but still held Norwich to a draw in the next match, with the result costing the Canaries automatic promotion.

While performances have significantly improved following Neil Adams’ departure and Neil’s subsequent hiring, the fact that promotion was in their own hands and they let it slip will hurt; and whether they’ve learnt from that experience remains to be seen – especially after the first leg.

Despite their three defeats under Neil, Norwich’s home form has been impressive in the sense that they’ve only failed to score twice on their own patch since he took over, and they also head into this tie as favourites at 4/5, with Ipswich listed at 17/4 and the draw on hand at 11/4.

No midfielder in the Championship scored more goals than Bradley Johnson for Norwich, with the former Leeds United man netting 15 times this season. Johnson is 10/1 to score first or 7/2 to score anytime, with the latter looking more likely here. As far as Ipswich go, Daryl Murphy finished as the division’s top scorer this season with a hugely impressive 27 goals to his name. The Republic of Ireland international is listed at 8/1 to break the deadlock or 14/5 to find the net at any point.