Sports Betting Weekly

Ipswich Town v Southampton

When: Thursday, 15 January 2015 @ 01:45 (FINISHED)
Where: Portman Road
While the F.A. Cup third round may have been lacking in upsets, it’s fair to say that Ipswich Town will be mightily pleased with their resolute display at St Mary’s last weekend, where a battling 1-1 draw secured the high-flying Championship side an unlikely replay at Portman Road.

True, Mick McCarthy’s team were dominated for the vast majority of the game – recording just 29% of the possession and creating no chances of note in the second half – but the Tractor Boys will certainly be buoyed by the opportunity to entertain a Premier League side in front of their own fans.

Ipswich have lost just one of their 12 Championship games at Portman Road this season (winning nine and drawing two), but the significance of their draw on the south coast goes beyond merely having home advantage – Southampton will now have to play three tricky away ties in the space of a week, with the game against Ipswich coming in between trips to Manchester United and Newcastle.

With Saints manager, Ronald Koeman, already declaring that it would be “his dream” to take Southampton to an F.A. Cup final, the Dutchman now faces a difficult decision on how to rotate his squad – and with a marked difference in quality between his first choice XI and the players he has in reserve, should he risk resting a number of key players there could be a potential upset on the cards.

Given this fact, odds of 23/20 on Ipswich getting one over on their more illustrious rivals could prove tempting to some – and while the visitors are understandably still odds-on favourites for victory at 1/2, the tie looks anything but a formality. Only two Championship sides have conceded fewer goals than Ipswich this season, and with just seven strikes against at home, if they can again take the lead as they did at St Mary’s, another McCarthy defensive masterclass could make this a pulsating cup tie.

Though the returning Darren Ambrose was the hero after scoring on his first start since rejoining Ipswich in September in the two sides’ previous encounter, it is undoubtedly the striking partnership of Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick that will be key to the home side’s chances this time out.

Murphy is the Championship’s leading marksman with 17 goals this season and is the favourite for the home team to open the scoring at Portman Road, while with seven strikes in the league so far, McGoldrick is also a hugely tempting option to score first and set up what would be a famous win against his former club.