Ipswich Town striker George Hirst says squad will learn lessons from West Brom defeat in bid to bounce back at Portman Road
Ipswich Town striker George Hirst says there are lessons to be learned following the Blues’ 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, and admitted the better side won on a difficult evening at the Hawthorns.
Darnell Furlong and Grady Diangana scored early in each half on Saturday evening to condemn Town to only their second league defeat of the season, and first away from home for 17 matches.
Furlong’s opener came after just five minutes, marking the sixth successive game in which the Blues have conceded the first goal, all of which have come inside the opening 15 minutes.
But Hirst believes it is the principles of how the goals are going in that are more important, rather than the timing of them.
“It’s one of those things, I don’t think we had a bad start,” he said.
“A lot of people will see it as ‘we’ve conceded early again’, but for us it’s not about the actual start itself and more about conceding from the set piece.
“It’s something we’re big on and we pride ourselves on being strong from those sorts of situations. Today they score and it’s an uphill mountain again. It’s not ideal but I think they were probably the better side.
“It’s a tough league, we understand we’re going to lose games and it’s not a matter of life or death. Right now, it’s one of those things where we’ve been beaten today by probably the better side and we move onto Wednesday and try and put things right.”
Despite not being of huge concern, Hirst agreed that conceding early is something that the squad know needs improving, and highlighted the Baggies as a side where the Blues can learn from.
He said: “I think that’s a fair reflection. It’s something that we are working on and we are speaking about, we’re not oblivious to that. It’s something that we know we will get a grip on and something that we will be better at.
“For us, it’s a lesson learned, especially in this division where you can’t be giving yourself those sorts of things to come back from too often, and today we couldn’t do it.
“They’re one of those teams when you come into it you know they’re an experienced side and they’ve got good players all over the pitch. It was going to be a tough game and so we don’t need to be making these games any harder for ourselves.
“We had spells where we had them on the back foot and played some good football. Tactically we caused them problems at times it’s we just couldn’t really capitalise on it, which was a shame.
“Like I say it’s a lesson learned and we’ll improve on it going forward.”
Defeat meant the Blues’ unbeaten league run came to an end after 12 games, while it was the first time Town had failed to score since February, a run of 35 straight matches in finding the net.
“It’s not something that happens every week,” Hirst said of the lack of forward force. “It was a bit of a surprise for us and we want to be better than that. It’s up to us as a whole team to go and create chances.
“It’s up to us as a forward unit to go and cause them problems and put their keeper under threat and today we didn’t do that. We’ll get back to the training ground on Monday morning and have a look at ourselves, first and foremost, and then go from there.”
Town remain in second place in the Sky Bet Championship table and are seven points clear of Leeds United in third, still an excellent position to be in after 17 games of the season.
“We’re not taking our position for granted,” Hirst said.“It’s a lot of hard work that’s got us here and it’s going to be even harder work that keeps us there. For us it’s about keeping this going and keeping the energy between the lads.
“We’ve lost today but it’s not going to define our season, we’re going to get ready on Monday morning and all focus is towards Millwall.”
He added: “You’ve got games every two or three days, especially the month of December. The good thing is we’ve got a chance to go and put it right.
“I know the lads are disappointed inside, but come Monday morning that will be forgotten and all focus will be on Millwall. It’s a chance to put things right and hopefully we go and do that.
“There’s 46 games and we’re going to need every single player in the squad whether you’re starting every week or starting a little bit less than you would like. All the boys are focused, all the boys are ready to take this opportunity when it comes and that’s how it should be.”
With nine more matches to come before New Year’s Day, including against Norwich City, Leeds and Leicester City, Hirst says the upcoming run is a period the team are relishing.
The 24-year-old said: “They’re the games you want to be playing in and the teams you want to be playing against. The fact that they’re all going to mean something is even bigger.For us it’s one game at a time, we’ve got big teams to play and there’s going to be a lot of tough games this month.
“As long as the fans are behind us like they are every single week, you can’t fault them travelling in numbers again tonight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the result for them today, but they’re going to be there every game we play. Hopefully we can keep doing them proud.”
The former Leicester City man also spoke on fellow striker Dane Scarlett, the Tottenham Hotspur loanee having found game time difficult to come by in his spell at Portman Road so far.
Hirst said: “He’s getting on really well, he’s fitted into the group really well. He shows his quality in training with his finishing and stuff like that.
“With the run we’ve been on at the minute it’s a hard team to get into, which is natural so it’s been tough for not only him but the other boys who haven’t been starting. But he’s doing well, fitted in and all the boys can see the talent that he’s got.
“I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he starts knocking (on the door).”