Ipswich Town 1-1 Plymouth Argyle: Kieran McKenna’s verdict

Ipswich Town 1-1 Plymouth Argyle: Kieran McKenna’s verdict

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna admitted he “can’t have too many complaints” after Plymouth Argyle’s last gasp equalizer at a packed Portman Road this afternoon.

After an even and high-intensity first half, both teams rattled the woodwork before Wes Burns broke the deadlock with a powerful strike just after the hour mark.

Norwich loanee Bali Mumba’s deflected shot found the top corner three minutes from time, however, to keep the league leaders seven points clear of Town in the League One table.

“It was a fantastic advertisement for the football club in terms of the support and passion of the people of Ipswich to get behind it,” said McKenna, a crowd of 29,069 making a lot of noise.

“We’re so grateful for that. It was one of the best atmospheres I’ve seen in an English football ground. I don’t think there will be many better atmospheres anywhere today.

“It made for a very intense match. Two good teams going toe to toe.

“Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t go on and win it from being in the position we were in so late in the game.

“It was such a big game, even for our experienced players, but even more so for our less experienced ones. It was the biggest crowd and the best atmosphere that the vast majority of them will have played under.

“We are disappointed at the moment but there is a long way to go in the season and if we manage our emotions properly we will be stronger for the experience today.”

MORE: Andy Warren’s player ratings after Town’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth.

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Asked if the draw was about right, the Blues boss said: “I don’t think we can have too many complaints, to be fair. Both teams had chances and both teams will feel they deserved to get something out of the game.

“I don’t think Plymouth did much to get the equaliser, to be honest. It wasn’t like we defended a flurry of shots and crosses and pressure.

“They maybe only had one shot in the 20-25 minutes where we had the lead and it takes a big deflection to go into the top corner.

“In that way, we can say that there was a bit of luck in the goal.

“But the only thing I’m interested in really is the things we can do better — and there are definitely things we can do better to defend that situation.

“Look, we wanted to win the game. In reality, it was also important not to lose it, because that would have been a huge boost for a difficult opponent.

“We have to take the point and move on to the next game.”

Plymouth have now claimed 15 points from losing positions this season, while Ipswich have dropped 15 from winning positions.

It was the fourth time this campaign that Town have conceded a costly goal in the 89th minute or beyond.

“We will continue to reflect on that,” McKenna said.

“We’ve done it in different ways. We’ve tried to be very aggressive and stay on the front foot at times when we were defending a lead and conceding late goals.

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“Today we defended more on form. It wasn’t easy to get as much pressure high up the pitch as we wanted at that stage with Plymouth changing shape.

“We defended our box and you have to be able to do that at stages in games.

“It’s rarely one thing, it’s a combination of things. We have to be able to defend our box better late in the game. We have to stay out of the box and push the line higher.

“We had a couple of chances to build counter attacks from bad crosses into our box but we were a bit nervous and hacked our crosses and that brought the pressure back.

“We can defend the situation better when they play a very smart ball into our box. Our blocking can be better, the way we get down the line of fire, the way we get to the ball so we’re not unlucky with deflections. There are details where we can improve.

“There’s also an element of luck to the goal. There’s no hiding that. But it’s not something we can control, so we’ll work really hard this week on the bits we can control.”

Town are now preparing for a trip to Oxford United next Saturday.

“There’s a lot of football to be played between now and May 6. It’s all to play for,” said McKenna, who are now four points behind second-placed Sheffield Wednesday.

“It is a very tough division this year, as it was last year.

“There are some good teams. Everyone has seen our quality and what we can do as a team. Plymouth have also shown their quality. Both clubs have strong squads and strong benches.

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“We will continue to fight. I have every faith in the players, their attitudes and the way they work.

“I loved the atmosphere in the stadium today, the energy and the positivity. That’s all we need and can ask for.

“If we keep pushing like that, we will get stronger and stronger as a football club. Players will get stronger and stronger for it.

“There are 20 games to go and hopefully many more big games and atmospheres like there were here at Portman Road. We will keep pushing.

“I’m very confident that if we continue to give the same energy as a football club, as we did today, then we will get where we want to go in the end.”

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