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An East Anglian semi-final repeat - Ipswich Town v Norwich City

8 May 2015

East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town and Norwich City are all set to battle it out for a trip to Wembley, and the first leg of the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off semi-final takes place on Saturday.

The first of the two matches comes at Portman Road, and will be shown live on Sky Sports with a 12.15pm kick-off.

Ipswich's loss on the final day dropped the Tractor Boys to sixth spot in the Championship and, after Norwich leapfrogged Middlesbrough into third on that same afternoon, set up what is sure to be an enthralling affair.

And it could be argued that this is the biggest derby between the two sides for 30 years, dating back to another semi-final in the mid-80s.

Back in 1985, the pair were drawn together in the penultimate stage of the League Cup – again, a two-legged tie to reach the national stadium.

The Tractor Boys took a slender one-goal advantage to take to Carrow Road, but a fortnight later the tables were turned. John Deehan levelled the tie for the Canaries, and Steve Bruce's late winner sent Norwich to the final, where they defeated Sunderland.

History could repeat itself 30 years on, with the Norfolk outfit travelling to Ipswich first before having the chance to seal success in front of their own fans. And a north-east opponent could await them under the arch, if Middlesbrough can overcome Brentford in the other semi-final.

The Canaries already have two wins over their rivals this season and Bradley Johnson, who scored a sensational opener in the 2-0 win at Carrow Road, told the club's official website the players recognise the size of the fixture.

"The players know the importance of the game, especially those who have been here a long while such as myself, Russ Martin and Wes Hoolahan.

"To play your local rivals, especially with what’s riding on it, makes it an occasion you want to play in.

“These games are what you live for as a professional footballer. It’s a derby game and everyone looks forward to it. Everyone's got to be on their game because it's going to be a battle.”

In the opposing camp, speaking to Ipswich's official website, skipper Luke Chambers - once a team-mate of Johnson's at Northampton Town - highlighted the importance of the club's fans as they push for a return to the Premier League.

“It’s been a long hard season and everyone is ready to give it one final push. That’s the players right up to the fans. Let’s all be together and play our parts and we really appreciate the backing from the fans.

“We need it again over the next two, possibly three games and I’m sure they will be right behind us. It does play a part and I think it shows how everyone is in it together.

“This club has been in the wilderness for too long. We need the fans to stay with us as always and get right behind us and hopefully we can all be celebrating together at the end of the game.”

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