Karl Fuller: There are two reasons Ipswich Town could be eluded by automatic promotion

Once our squad was announced at 2pm, the return of several previously injured players gave us a huge boost. Our medical staff work miracles in getting our players back ahead of schedule.

When we can call up the likes of Janoi Donacien, Luke Woolfenden, Marcus Harness and Lee Evans to our starting line-up, you realize the strength there is in the squad. We’ve dealt fantastically with several injured players missing in recent months.

They’re back now, we can really go for promotion from here if luck stays on our side with fewer injuries in the second half of the season.

And once those returning players settled into the groove, Oxford gave us a really hard time. I was concerned about the tactics our visitors would use after their terrible showing last season. But in fairness, they started on the bright side and got us working towards our foothold in the game.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sam Morsy controls the ballSam Morsi controls the ball (Photo: Steve Waller)

I thought Evans was great. In his absence, Cameron Humphries has proven to be a more than capable substitute and disrespectful to the youngster, but Evans brings that experience to the party and it shows.

Once Freddy Ladabo got us up front we then chased down Oxford looking for more goals. After more than one corner kick saw Cameron Brannagan still on Wes Burns’ shirt, the first time he couldn’t grab it, Burns lost completely and his brilliant finish meant the match was over before half-time.

Watch! Goals that beat Oxford

The second period was fun to watch, and Oxford had no answer to what we threw at them. It was their first defeat in nine league matches, and the first time they had been defeated by more than one goal in the league all season.

Minimize our victory at your peril. For the first time since 2015, we won a Boxing Day match at home (we beat QPR 2-1 at the time thanks to an injury-time winner from Luke Chambers).

East Anglian Daily Times: Wes Burns puts Town second against OxfordWes Burns Town puts 2 against Oxford (Photo: Steve Waller)

It was also the first time we had scored three goals in a Boxing Day match at home since 1998 when we scored two goals from Richard Naylor and one from Kieron Dyer as we beat Portsmouth 3-0.

Kieran McKenna has now managed Town for 46 games which of course makes up a full season. His record is only about the promotion model. 25 victories, 14 draws and only seven defeats equate to 89 points obtained.

22 clean games have been kept in that time and 19 of those 25 wins have been nil. This season saw an average home attendance of 25,743. Everything is in place for our promotion target come May. So dare we dream about halfway through this season? Absolutely!

I can only think of two reasons why we can’t go ahead with the automatic upgrade. Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday! The three of us will be fighting for these two coveted automatic spots until the end of April I feel. Oh boy, we have two big matches to look forward to when they get together in town within four weeks of each other.

More: Here’s what Kieran McKenna said after Oxford’s win

Coming back this week and Portsmouth away on Thursday won’t be easy. I’m happy to now tie and look for three points with Lincoln on Monday. And then we will have the transfer window open in January.

I think if we can add two to three quality additions, we can go on to finish first and second. Easier to say than below, of course. I just hope we get our work done early enough so we can go into that Plymouth game with a stronger squad than we have at the moment.

It was a happy birthday. I wish you all a very happy New Year – hopefully buoyed by two victories away from home. 2023 will be our year.


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