TV tests for the Baggies start at Ipswich

Ipswich Town v West Bromwich Albion; Portman Road, Saturday 10th February 2024, 12.30pm

Further fixture alterations mean that Saturday’s match is the first in a run of eight Championship fixtures for Albion with not one kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. The Baggies’ popularity with Sky TV has been a constant gripe with fans who attend matches since their return to the Championship and, with their next two scheduled Saturday home games having been moved to Friday night, Albion fans will now have to wait until mid-March to see their team at the Hawthorns in daylight. Furthermore, there remains the possibility that the Baggies’ next Saturday 3pm kick off, at home to Bristol City on 16th March, could yet be moved, although with seven of the eight games before that already selected for live TV coverage, one would hope not!

It does at least show that Albion are one of the promotion challengers and the additional TV money will come in useful given the club’s current finances, but the wider issue of how the alteration of kick off times to suit television without any thought to paying spectators continues to be ignored by the game’s authorities.

Having been the first team to keep a clean sheet against Ipswich Town this season in their 2-0 victory at the Hawthorns in November, the Baggies travel to Suffolk for the return fixture with their opponents suffering their worst run of form of the campaign. Having responded to the defeat at the Hawthorns with four successive victories, Kieran McKenna’s team have won just once in the league since mid-December, a run of eight games in which they have collected just seven points. Having been top of the table and ten points clear of third-placed Leeds United after their win at Watford on 12th December, Ipswich are now down to fourth, some thirteen points behind the runaway leaders, Leicester City. However, they remain well clear of the rest of the chasing pack and victory for Albion would still only reduce the gap between the sides to eight points.

McKenna was able to add a couple of new faces during the transfer window with Iraqi international Ali Al-Hamadi joining from Wimbledon and Welsh international Kieffer Moore joining on loan from Bournemouth. Al-Hamadi has scored 17 goals for League Two Dons this season so evidently knows where the goal is, while Moore has 49 Championship goals to his name in 149 appearances having scored twice off the bench on his Tractor Boys debut at Preston last weekend, albeit in defeat.

Moore’s arrival is likely to have changed Carlos Corberán’s plans for the game as he offers something different to McKenna’s usual passing style of play. His first at Deepdale, a towering far post header, is typical of what Moore can do – Bartley and Kipré will have their work cut out to contain him, as I’m sure he will try to isolate Furlong and Townsend in those situations. He certainly presents a different challenge to George Hirst who played as the number nine in the game at the Hawthorns but is now sidelined through injury.

Another new face at Ipswich will not, of course, be unfamiliar to Albion fans. Jeremy Sarmiento was recalled from his loan at the Hawthorns by his parent club, Brighton and Hove Albion, at the beginning of January and was promptly sent out on loan to Portman Road. He is unlikely to be warmly received by the away fans on Saturday following rumours that the player himself requested a change due to a lack of game time at the Hawthorns, which is strange given he started six successive games for the Baggies before Christmas. Since joining the Tractor Boys, he has started just two games, the FA Cup defeat to Maidstone United, in which he scored the equaliser before giving the ball away ahead of the Stones’ winner, and the 3-2 defeat at Deepdale last weekend. He also scored as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Leicester City and may well make it three successive starts in the match against Albion.

Corberán will have been pleased by the impact made by his three new signings against Blues last weekend, and he will certainly be considering one or more of them for a start at Portman Road. Brandon Thomas-Asante has started the last nine league games, partly down to a lack of alternatives, and he may well start again this weekend. However, while the medical team may still advise against starting Daryl Dike, Weimann and Marshall may well be considered viable alternatives after a full week’s training with the squad.

With Mikey Johnston also impressing on debut last weekend, there are also choices to make as to who will support the front man with Jed Wallace, John Swift and Tom Fellows in possession of the starting roles from the last match.

Albion remain without the services of Grady Diangana and Semi Ajayi with both still involved in AFCON as their countries contest the Third-Place Playoff and Final respectively this weekend, while Josh Maja, Matt Phillips, Martin Kelly, Jayson Molumby and Adam Reach are all ruled out through injury.

Despite Ipswich’s recent form, this remains a tough test for the Baggies, particularly given their away form this season. Albion have lost four of their last five matches away from the Hawthorns and only their excellent home form and mixed results from the sides below them has seen them retain their place in the play-offs.

Hopefully, a full week on the training pitch with some new faces will help to banish any psychological issues that may have been building up within the squad. Albion started the game well at Norwich but heads dropped when the first goal went in – maybe the knowledge that the bench is stronger will help to mitigate against that. So far this season, the Baggies have picked up just one point on the road when conceding first which was at Watford when they were ahead after 17 minutes despite going behind. Conversely, the match at Blues in October is the only one that Albion have lost after scoring first away from home.

Albion are still waiting for their first league double of the season and a win at Ipswich would bring it for the Baggies at the fourth time of asking having lost their three previous opportunities at Middlesbrough, Swansea City and Norwich City. Most Albion fans would probably settle for a point given Ipswich’s home record, only one league defeat this season, but if they can capitalise on the hosts’ recent struggles, it would be an excellent three points.


Saturday will be the Baggies’ first trip to Portman Road for more than five years, having not played in Suffolk since goals from Jay Rodriguez and Harvey Barnes earned Darren Moore’s team all three points in November 2018. The Tractor Boys finished bottom of the Championship that season with the home defeat to Albion being Paul Lambert’s first defeat as Ipswich boss after he replaced Paul Hurst. However, the Scotsman would only register four victories in the remainder of the campaign and failed to lift his team off the bottom of the table where they were when he took over. After four seasons in League One, Ipswich returned to the Championship last summer as runners up to Plymouth Argyle.

Over the years, Portman Road has rarely been a happy place for Baggies fans and, indeed, between 1984 and 2003, Albion didn’t register a single victory over Ipswich Town either home or away, a run of 25 matches in which they recorded just six draws! Since then, however, it has been a different story and Town have only beaten Albion twice this century and the victory in 2018 was the Baggies’ third in their last five visits to Ipswich.

The most memorable and biggest Albion win in Ipswich was in October 2006 when Nigel Pearson was in caretaker charge of the Baggies following the dismissal of Bryan Robson. Diomansay Kamara gave Albion the lead, only for a Chris Perry own goal to bring the hosts level a few minutes later. Kevin Phillips had put the Baggies back in front before half time before striking again nine minutes into the second period to make it 3-1. Kamara added his second before Phillips completed his hat trick in the last minute to make the final score 5-1 to the visitors.

For the Tractor Boys’ biggest win over Albion, we have to go back a further three decades to November 1976. John Giles’ Albion had fared well in their first season back in the top flight, but Bobby Robson was building a formidable team at Portman Road and they ripped the Baggies apart that day. Ipswich legends John Wark, Kevin Beattie and Paul Mariner all found the net but it was the lesser known Trevor Whymark who made the headlines that day with four goals all of his own to make the final score 7-0.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W W L L W
Ipswich Town D W W D L L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

25 Nov 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Furlong, Diangana)
Ipswich Town 0

Last meeting at Ipswich Town

23 Nov 2018 – League Championship
Ipswich Town 1 (Jackson)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Rodriguez, Barnes)

Albion’s Record against Ipswich Town

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 67 22 15 30 96 111   33 8 7 18 35 69
FA Cup 3 0 1 2 2 7   1 0 0 1 0 3
League Cup 3 1 1 1 3 2   2 0 1 1 1 2
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2   1 0 0 1 1 2
Total 74 23 17 34 102 122   37 8 8 21 37 76

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