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Ipswich Town: Goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky praises side’s performance against Leicester City to move into second in the Sky Bet Championship table

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky felt the Blues deserved a point in their top-of-the-table clash with Leicester City that moved them back into the Championship automatic promotion places.

Jeremy Sarmiento’s first goal for the club on 89 minutes earned Kieran McKenna’s men a commendable 1-1 draw with the league leaders at the King Power Stadium, moving the Blues one point clear of Southampton in third place.

The Ecuadorian’s goal prevented the Blues from falling to a fourth league defeat of the season, which looked as though that would be the case after Leif Davis turned into his own-net in the first half to give the Foxes the lead.

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky was awarded Man of the Match following the 1-1 draw with Leicester City. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky was awarded Man of the Match following the 1-1 draw with Leicester City. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Hladky hailed the resilience of the squad and said a much improved second half was important in the Blues getting themselves back into the game.

He said: “We’re pleased with the point, first and foremost. Even though we were after the equaliser we thought ‘come on lads, keep trying’ because there were five minutes left and we felt that energy.

“It’s a good day and it was an enjoyable game for the fans. We didn’t quite find our way in the first half but it was better in the second half and we equalised.

“It was a game of two halves, in the first half we couldn’t find the right connections but the second half was much better.

“We were talking a lot at half-time about it wasn’t really us in the first half and we had to do something different in terms of intensity and pressing. We definitely did in the second half so it was a great improvement.

“It was a great game against a tough opponent. They are top of the league and we’re quite pleased with our performances against them as it’s not easy against an experienced team. That gives us confidence for the rest of the campaign.”

Town’s mentality has been the subject of praise for a number of months, with the Blues now having won 21 points from losing positions this season – the most in the Championship.

Hladky puts that down to the work of manager Kieran McKenna and his coaching staff.

“We’ve been working on it since the manager came in two years ago,” he said.

“Sometimes you can’t find yourself because they went man-to-man in the first half, which we weren’t surprised by but we couldn’t find a way. That took a little reset at half-time and then it was much better in the second half.

“We have 15 minutes at half-time and we’re going through loads of clips on the screen trying to find a way where we can improve ourselves and that was the case today.

“Sometimes it’s a game of two different halves and that was the case today, but our reaction for the second half was spot on.

“Even in games where we are 2-0 down, we still believe in our way and I think we’ve proved that again today.”

Hladky, who was holding the Man of the Match trophy, was delighted with his own performance, having made a string of saves from Hamza Choudhury and Tom Cannon to keep the Blues in the game.

He said: “It’s nice, but I can pick many more players than just me, especially the second half which was absolutely spot on.

“You have to stay concentrated, especially against a top opponent like Leicester. The first one was a bit awkward as I couldn’t see the ball properly so I tried to find it and all of a sudden it was there.

“I was pleased with the saves and to help the team as it’s not every game that can happen.”

Sarmiento continued the trend of McKenna’s substitutes making a big impact so far this season, with 11 of Town’s 51 Championship goals now coming from players who started on the bench.

“It’s been two seasons where we’ve had great additions from the guys coming off the bench,” Hladky said.

“We’re always looking forward to 60/70 minutes when fresh power can come in and deliver something different for us.

“We’ve got 25 players and it makes a big difference to us.”

Town are widely thought to be the underdogs in the fight for automatic promotion, with the three far richer recently-relegated sides of Leicester, Southampton and Leeds United all competing for a place in the Premier League next season.

Hladky said: “We don’t listen to things around us, we have our own tunnel and we know where we can improve. That’s all we’re working on.

“It’s not always about the money. It’s about the team, the manager, the players and especially about the hard work. We’re delivering great performances and we just want to carry on.

“With the players there are some discussions about [promotion], but it’s been more about the humility to come in every day and focus on the work. Sometimes you make jokes about still being there, but more importantly is to deliver the hard work.”

The Czech glovesman says the feeling is different to the promotion race the Blues found themselves in last campaign in League One due to the lesser expectations set before the start of the season.

“It’s a bit different because last season the main target was to get promoted and we didn’t even talk about it,” he said.

“This season we’ve set the bar and we just want to deliver the best of us every game, which I think we’re still doing.”

Asked how the new arrivals of Sarmiento and midfielder Lewis Travis have settled in, Hladky said: “They are great players and are great additions to our team, which gives you something different. I’m pleased for Jeremy to score and we think they can bring a lot more.

“They’re great guys. I can say it’s easy to settle into our team because we are a great bunch of people.”

Attention now turns back to the FA Cup with the visit of non-league Maidstone United on the horizon on Saturday lunchtime, with the Blues looking to reach the fifth round for the first time since 2007.

Hladky says Town are able to balance the league form and a cup run, and highlighted the importance of both cup competitions after the Blues reached the fourth round of the Carabao Cup earlier this season.

The 33-year-old said: “We’ve got 25 players and we can make so many changes and deliver the same power and I’m pretty sure we will.

“Both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup have always been great competitions. It’s something different and the lads can get some minutes.

“Obviously we want to get through as in the next round there’s going to be some familiar and special teams. We want to definitely go through.”