Flash back to October, Ipswich Town were a struggling club on the field. The Tractor Boys were rock bottom of the form table that month, collecting only a solitary point from their five games played.
Following an unexpected difficult opening of the season with only one away win from thirteen games, including the October 6th Portman Road loss to Cardiff City, the board called time on Paul Jewell’s tenure. A week later Ipswich began November with the appointment of former Wolves, Sunderland and Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy; his clear remit to add calm and consistency in Suffolk, starting with the search for points, including club’s first home win of the 2012/13 campaign.
McCarthy’s introduction earned instant dividends, starting with an away win at Birmingham before that all elusive home victory was served courtesy of Burnley on November 10th to instil hope with the supporters. Fans were pleased as more W’s kept on coming as confidence amongst the Ipswich ranks improved, including three on the bounce against Nottingham Forest, Bolton away and Millwall.
Continuing to cause Championship defences problems was on loan QPR forward DJ Campbell, inspiring the Tractor Boys to victories that placed the once struggling team third on December form alone, behind month leaders Hull City and Cardiff City a few points ahead during the packed festive schedule.
Campbell’s return to Loftus Road, even if temporary before a possible return quickly gave pause to 2013 hopes, the year starting with a 3-0 home loss to Brighton. But with Ipswich using January to quickly add to their attacking ranks and now enjoying a five point cushion over the bottom three - added to with top ten away form of seventeen points from the thirteen played, six points behind away leaders Hull on twenty three points, the Tractor Boys will feel far more confident when arriving in the Welsh capital on Saturday.
Points on the road have been secured against Wolves, Charlton, Bolton and Birmingham since McCarthy’s appointment, showing an ability to perform against former Premier League opposition. What Ipswich really want from the new calendar year though is another run of form to see league status secured at the earliest opportunity – the once remote possibility of the play-offs still within a ten point grasp, albeit requiring a drop in form those above.
But with a trip to the league leaders on the horizon, McCarthy will want his squad to lay an iconic marker. The prospect of beating the top side in the Championship could clearly be used as a platform to build from, especially with Barnsley and Bristol next on the list.
Twenty games to play and thirty points to collect leaves everything open across the league, the key word of consistency relating to every ambition. It goes without saying that Cardiff City will have to be at their best to maintain local and lofty aspirations on a difficult afternoon.
Tickets for the game are available now. Call 0845 345 1400 to secure your place or pick your seat online via eTicketing