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Ipswich Town column: Tractor Boys and Norwich City fans give their thoughts ahead of East Anglian derby

Here we go again. It doesn't feel that long ago that we were sat here, eagerly awaiting the return of the East Anglian Derby after four years without it.

I was so confident going into that game in December. We had to win it. It was our time.

Sadly from a blue point of view, that wasn't the case and our feathered 'friends' up the A140 ran away from Portman Road with a 2-2 victory. Sorry, I mean draw.

Suffolk News' Ipswich Town columnist Joey Sadler
Suffolk News' Ipswich Town columnist Joey Sadler

Five months on and although respective positions in the league haven't changed too much, Norwich City are in a much better position than when they last visited Portman Road before Christmas and seem to have hit some serious form, especially at home. Saying that, so have we.

I hate this game and after 15 miserable years of hurt in this fixture, you can see why.

I'm of an age to have seen us beat Norwich on a few occasions, but with the large majority of my life taken up by watching those up the road enjoy all the success. If being embarrassed in the Premier League every week can be classed as success, that is.

But there is no doubt that City have had more to shout about than us in recent years, showcased by their performance in this fixture.

This season is different though. For the first time in a while, we are a better team than Norwich City. We have and always will be a bigger club, but when it comes to things on the pitch, finally Town have got it right.

We should've won in December. We had the chances and I often still think about how Nathan Broadhead spooned that chance wide.

But it's time to put that behind us and have belief we can go into their own back-yard and get the job done.

There will be goals. There's always goals, but I think even more so than usual, considering both teams are scintillating going forward but prone to leaving things a little light at the back.

This group have given us so many precious moments over the last 24 months. It's time for another boys. It's time to write history.

As always, I wanted to touch base with the fans, to see how they feel going into this one, but this time, exploring the views of those both in blue as well as yellow.

Starting off with Norwich City fan Kieron Jolly who said: "I'm definitely nervous, as I am with any derby and beating Ipswich would ease the pain of the large points difference between us.

“Town are a different breed this season, with that never-say-die attitude reminding me of us whilst Lambert was in charge. This game is as big as those play-off derby games back in 2015, with Ipswich pushing for automatic promotion and us striving for promotion of our own.

“I feel slightly more confident coming into this derby than I was in December. Our home form is decent and the return of Josh Sargent has been a huge lift to the club. His stats speak volumes and he is possibly the best striker in the league at the moment.

“If Norwich are to get anything out of this game, I feel they need to counter attack fast and long. Ipswich have a unique style of pressing football (very decent to watch it flow) however I think it's also been a weakness for them, when possession is given up as the centre of midfield becomes non-existent.

Prediction? Another 2-2 draw as no matter how much Ipswich dominate and out play us .... we always seem to have their number!"

Avid Norwich City supporter Grace Beaton said: "I feel much better about this derby than I did the previous one. We now sit in the playoffs, in a really tight position and after the loss at Leicester, we really need to win this one.

“I feel as if this match will mean more to us as if we lose, we could be kissing our playoff hopes goodbye, whilst play-offs is the worst case scenario for you lot! I'm predicting a hopeful 2-1 Norwich win, but I could definitely see more goals than that.

“Although, we could both shut each other out, with a lot still left to play for. There's a lot on the line!”

Finally, Casper Warby added: "After a lacklustre season and recent poor performance against title chasers Leicester City, it’s difficult as a Norwich fan to find confidence for this derby.

“Reflecting on the season, you have to give credit to Ipswich and as hard as it is to say, Kieran McKenna and his team have earned 87 points already this season, although some picked up controversially!

“That’s 23 more points than ourselves, with us sat in 6th. As a fan attending the game and supporting nobody else but the boys in yellow and green, all I can hope for is a strong performance avoiding defeat, keeping that 15-year unbeaten record going.”

Turning our attention to the blue side of Anglia now and how are fellow Town fans feeling?

Kicking things off with the famous Renegade Statman. He said: "I just think there’s too much on the line in Saturday’s game at Carrow Road, for it to be a wide-open encounter.

“A defeat for either side will dent their respective ambitions of playing in the Premier League next season, and for that reason, I am expecting a tense, cagey game with a hard-fought battle in midfield.

“However, Omari Hutchinson’s pace will be the key factor in Ipswich Town returning to Suffolk with the three points."

Up next is Alex Osborn, who said: “So far this season, every Ipswich fan's wildest hopes and dreams have been smashed out of the park. However, one thing still eludes us - that win over Norwich.

“The pride of East Anglia isn't the only thing on the line here. It's the potential to gain more ground in our push to the Premier League, while Norwich try to sneak into the play-offs.

“Despite Norwich being formidable at home in 2024, I have full confidence that the never-say-die attitude of McKenna's mentality monsters will find a way to win, as they always do.”

Bella Castaldo added: “Well I thought I had seen it all this season. That was until the 97th minute at Portman Road on Easter Monday. I am still checking for new camera angles of the goal and celebrations on social media, I think I must have watched that moment 1000 times already.

“The only thing that could top that off? A win against Norwich. I remember going into the home fixture thinking ‘this is our time’ but it wasn’t to be. We were just keeping that victory warm for Carrow Road, where it will feel much more sweeter.

“If ever a team should be destined for promotion, it’s this team. If ever a team should be confident of travelling to Carrow Road, it’s this team. And if ever a team should shut the 15 years of hurt down once and for all …. it’s this team.

“I’m going with a 2-1 Town win. It will be nail biting to the very end… but that’s just the way we like it!”

And finally, Kieran Bleasby said: "The game we love, or hate. Derby day. I was dreading the reverse fixture due to everybody else's expectation for us to win, and as it transpired, it was agony when we ultimately didn't (again).

“Coming up to 15 years since we last got one over them and no doubt we will be reminded about it all summer if we don't do it again on Saturday. If we get the job done and finish in the top 2, that won't bother me one bit.

“Norwich's home form worries me. They sit third in the home league table and have acquired 44 points. Anything but a loss, or a repeat of the 2018 visit to Carrow Road will do me nicely.

“Our victory against Southampton on Easter Monday will have our tails up and have us looking to make it four on the spin.

“No Wes Burns for Ipswich but also no Jonny Rowe for Norwich means there could be a few new names to become heroes for either side. Either way, it's going to be a cracker. I'll remain level headed, and go for another 2-2.”

A huge thank you to Statman, Alex, Bella and Kieran, who make some excellent points. Although I'm not surprised, as they are Ipswich fans after all!

So let's see how this one goes. Carrow Road awaits. I'm nervous and know Friday night will not consist of a great deal of sleep, but as Bella so rightly said in her piece, if there is any team that can go to Carrow Road and win, it is this one.

Time to write history lads. This is one more hurdle for us to overcome in what has been a truly magical race so far. Up the Town.