THE BIG MATCH

Ian Holloway leads Crystal Palace for the first time in Tuesday night's npower Championship fixture against Ipswich Town - who have their own new boss, Mick McCarthy, in charge for just his second match.

It's been a case of all change at both clubs in recent weeks with Holloway replacing Dougie Freedman at Palace while McCarthy has taken over the Ipswich hot-seat from Paul Jewell.

Holloway watched Palace beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 on Saturday, a result that saw the Eagles go third in the Championship, and now he wants to make his mark at Selhurst Park.

He told Palace Player: "This situation, with the position you've got yourselves in, the way the club is run, the energy of the board, is absolutely perfect for me and I'm very fortunate that they chose me.

"I don't need to change that much. What I want to do is drip-feed my philosophies into your boys if I can but as I say, the Championship is really tough. It's just about getting a feel for the boys but I can't wait to give them a piece of me."

Ipswich's situation is vastly different to Palace's in that they parted company with Jewell after a poor run of form that left them rooted to the foot of the table.

McCarthy took over and collected a win in his first game in charge, Saturday's 1-0 success away to Birmingham City.

Ipswich remain bottom but they have closed to within a point of Bristol City, who are immediately above them, and they have been lifted by recent events.

McCarthy told Ipswich Player: "More of the same is easier said than done. We're going to play a team that are flying at the minute, they had a really good performance on Saturday and look a strong side.

"Our performance was a start but there are some difficult days ahead. You don't become bottom of the league and then suddenly it all just changes. We will have to go and play better than Saturday and work as hard, be as committed, all those horrible professional things you have to be."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Two of the npower Championship's in-form sides meet at the City Ground as Nottingham Forest host Middlesbrough - with the two teams having just one defeat in 12 games combined.

That sole reverse was suffered by Forest, who went down 4-1 in front of their own fans to Millwall on Saturday leaving them eighth in the table.

Now they are keen to put that right as soon as possible while manager Sean O'Driscoll sees second-placed Middlesbrough as a benchmark for his side.

He told www.nottinghamforest.co.uk: "They are a settled team and have coped with injuries really well.

"They are a team that have a definite tactic but can change their structure. Whatever they do they are comfortable doing - they remain a team that can be fluid off the goalkeeper, fluid off second balls and fluid off free-kicks and corners.

"In some senses they are the benchmark - if we had to pick a team that we are trying to be like I suppose Middlesbrough would be up there, more so than Millwall because we haven't got the physicality of the players.

"I saw them beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last week [in the Capital One Cup] and they were excellent. You can see why they are where they are."

Middlesbrough haven't lost since the end of September and with five wins and a draw from their last six, they have fired themselves up the table to sit second - behind leaders Cardiff City only on goal difference.

They lost at Forest last season and will be hoping to avoid the same fate this time around after six successive away wins.

First-team coach Mark Proctor, himself a former Forest player, told www.mfc.co.uk: "I had two years there as a young player under a certain Brian Clough. I joined them from Boro when I was 20 and I was only there for two years.

"I have many fond memories but hopefully we can go there and give them another bad day and continue our own good form.

"We've been going particularly well but we've got a very difficult game ahead of us. I don't think out record is too great there and last season we had our first defeat there when we lost 2-0.

"They were having a great run before Saturday and we all got a bit of a shock to see Millwall had beaten them 4-1. But does that result make it easier for us? I don't think so."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Millwall are on a fantastic run and their 4-1 victory at Nottingham Forest on Saturday made it seven npower Championship games without defeat for Kenny Jackett's men.

It was their second successive win while scoring four goals having beaten Huddersfield Town 4-0 the previous week and they are on the road again on Tuesday night, though this time making the shorter journey to Watford.

There they will face a Hornets side that has been inconsistent in recent weeks but with a group of players who showed what they can do on Saturday with a 2-1 win at home to high-flying Leicester City.

Millwall will start in 14th place level with Watford on 19 points, but the Lions are a position higher in the table with a better goal difference.

Goal difference is all that keeps Cardiff City top of the table after they were beaten 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday evening as Middlesbrough joined them on 28 points in the afternoon.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay has said he is looking for a response from his players as they travel to fourth-bottom Charlton Athletic - who, ironically, were the side beaten by Boro as they went down 4-1 at The Valley.

Bolton will now be looking to make it two wins from two under new boss Dougie Freedman but the fixtures don't get easier as after beating Cardiff on Saturday, tonight they are at home to fourth-placed Leicester.

Hull City and Blackburn Rovers are the remaining teams in the Play-Off places with the fifth-placed Tigers at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are ninth, while sixth-placed Blackburn travel to Huddersfield - who are level on points in seventh and only behind them on goal difference.

At the other end of the table, the three teams in the relegation zone all have away trips as alongside Ipswich Town's visit to Crystal Palace, second-bottom Bristol City head to Birmingham City, who are in 18th, while third-bottom Peterborough United travel to 10th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion.

Depending on results, either one of Barnsley or Sheffield Wednesday could end up in the bottom three as they are on 15 points, three clear of the danger zone.

Barnsley visit Derby County, who beat Blackpool 4-1 on Saturday and have only lost one of their last seven games, while Wednesday host the vanquished Tangerines - whose managerial situation, after the departure of Holloway to Crystal Palace, remained unresolved at the time of writing.

Completing the fixtures is Burnley's home game against Leeds United, an encounter between the teams in 13th and 12th respectively.

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