Ipswich Town 3-2 Wolves: Kieran McKenna’s verdict
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna hailed his team’s character following tonight’s 3-2 comeback win against Premeir League side Wolves in the Carabao Cup.
Omari Hutchinson, Freddie Ladapo and Jack Taylor all scored as the Blues recovered from an early 2-0 deficit to progress to the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2011.
“There is so much to be proud of in the performance, in the character and the quality that we showed,” said the Blues boss.
“Of course it was a difficult start to the game. I don’t think we started particularly badly, but the first attack they had we made a little mistake and we got punished – that’s the quality of the opponent, it can happen.
“It really tested us as a group. It tested our bravery to keep trying to play through the opposition. It tested our bravery off the ball to keep jumping and trying to press high up the pitch, defend big spaces and defend one-v-ones.
“It was a great show of character from the group. We’ve been through similar situations with the players who have been playing more so in the league, but tonight other players have come into the team, having not got that same match rhythm and recent experience of being in that situation, and done the same. That’s a good reflection of the group.”
With a much-changed side looking well-drilled, McKenna continued: “It’s a reflection of the work that goes on day-to-day by a lot of people. The intensity that players put into training every day enabled us to play with that sort of intensity tonight. From a tactical point of view we try and work in a consistent manner so that all the players get the same level of care and attention. That allows them all to go same on the same journey and make the same improvements.
“We spoke about the Burnley (FA Cup) games (back in January) today. On nights like tonight you want to win, you might lose, but they can be really important signposts in the development of the team.
“The Burnley game(s) last year, probably externally, people don’t remember that much. But for us it was a big, big confidence boost for the squad. That was the goal going into tonight, that whatever the scoreline was we would stay really brave to our identity and test that against really high level opposition. When you do that and show you’ve got it running through your whole squad that’s a really good marker for the development of the group and the club.”
On Taylor’s winner, he said: “What a goal. He’s got some strike, he really does. You just want him to be the person that the ball falls to there. We worked it through the pitch well and once you get Jack anywhere within 20-25 yards of the goal on his right foot you know he’s got a great chance of testing the keeper.
“I thought his all-round game was excellent. I thought him and Lee (Evans) were excellent in the middle of the pitch. That was the best they’ve been this season. Jack tops it up with a goal and Lee captains the side against the team he’s telling me released him makes it a great night for the two of them.”
Town will be joined by a maximum of 10 Premier League clubs in tomorrow night’s fourth round draw.
“Let’s see what the draw brings,” said McKenna. “Of course there are some massive clubs in there, so we certainly can’t get carried away with ourselves. There are things to improve from tonight’s performance.
“As much as is realistically possible we’re going to to try and stay aggressive and brave with our identity with whoever we face. Don’t hold me to hat if we pull the blue side of Manchester out! But we want to have these big challenges and tests.”
He added: “We need to enjoy these moments as they come. Tonight is the first time we’ve beaten a Premier League team in quite a few years. It’s a good night for the progress and regrowth of this football club. In the big picture of our season the result tonight doesn’t win us anything, but it is a really significant marker point for the development of the squad.
“I still think we can improve this group of platers a lot. From tomorrow it will be focus on Huddersfield and the next really tough game. We’ll keep trying to push forward.”