Home   Ipswich   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna felts his side should have had ‘at least two penalties’ on ‘mixed night’ at Rotherham United

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna felt the Blues’ 2-2 draw at Rotherham last night was a mixed night, Town having staged another comeback to lead 2-1 before being pegged back by the Millers in injury time.

Sam Nombe netted his first Rotherham goal in the fourth minute prior to Sam Morsy levelling with a cleverly-worked free kick on 19 in the re-arranged Sky Sports televisied Sky Bet Championship fixture.

Town looked to have won it when Jack Taylor scored his first league goal for the Blues on 87 but Christ Tiehi grabbed a 91st-minute equaliser to deny the Suffolk side the three points.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna felt his side were denied two penalties at the New York Stadium Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna felt his side were denied two penalties at the New York Stadium Picture: Barry Goodwin

“I think there are a lot of positives to be taken from where we were in the game to where we got ourselves to,” McKenna said.

“Of course, you don’t want to concede early in the game, especially away from home, especially a night game against a team like Rotherham - it’s always going to be really difficult from there to get anything from the game.

“It gave them not just a goal but also gave them momentum and atmosphere and something to hang onto.

“So it made the challenge even bigger than it was already going to be, so I think from that point the way that we kept calm, kept playing our football, gradually took control of the game, started to find the overloads towards the end of the first half.

“The way we came out in the second half and they tried to change their pressing structure and press more aggressively and we stayed brave, we broke the pressure time and time again and got into some great positions around their goal and to get the two goals and to put ourselves in a great position in the game, there are big positives to take.

“Marred, of course, by the frustration of the goal at the end where it’s a second phase from a long throw, which Rotherham are good at.

“They can do that, but on the other hand we didn’t quite stick to our principles in a situation we usually defend really well and that’s something we’ll definitely learn from and reflect on and make sure that we stay stronger in that situation.

“But I think it’s a mixed night. Disappointed to concede early, really pleased with the response and with so much of the performance, and the frustration with the goal at the end, but something I’m absolutely sure we’ll learn pretty quickly from.”

Town looked to be denied solid penalty claims in both halves with George Hirst appearing to be fouled in the box in the first and Georgie Kelly looking to have handled an Axel Tuanzebe header in the second.

“I thought we had at least two penalties in the game,” McKenna said when asked about the incidents. “I don’t really want to go into it much because it’s quite a topic in football at the moment.

“I do know we haven’t had a penalty this season, I do know there was an incredible amount of noise made last weekend about the giving of a free kick outside our box (George Edmundson’s challenge on Mustapha Bundu during the Plymouth match) and the follow-up process to that was a bit of a learning education for me.

“But on tonight’s, I thought we were good value for two penalties, but we didn’t get them and having said there was enough in free play for us to have won the game.

“They looked clear from where we were and the referee had a great position on both.”

Despite the disappointment, the Blues are now unbeaten in the league in 11 and are undefeated in 17 away from home in the league, increasing the new club record.

Town also close the gap to leaders Leicester to three points and are now eight ahead of Leeds, the only team to beat the Blues in the league this season, in third. Is that any consolation for the frustration of the result?

“Definitely, but not on gaps or anything like that, to be honest. I keep saying, it’s much, much too early to think about anything like that,” McKenna continued.

“We want to get as many points as we can this season and a point away from home on a Tuesday night after a tough away game on a Saturday, especially having conceded in the first couple of minutes, is a point that you can certainly find lots of positives in.

“But for me, it’s more about the performance. We’ve come away from home in difficult circumstances, had 70 per cent of the ball, created better chances than the opposition, dominated and controlled large chunks of the game. Do that enough times and you give yourself a great chance to pick up points.”

McKenna was delighted with the well-worked free kick and excellent strike for his side’s equaliser.

“A really good goal,” he said. “A lot of the credit to the players for that, to be fair. It’s an area of the pitch where we have principles of the type of solutions that we’d like to find, but it’s a hard one to predict because you can’t ever really predict the team’s structure in that situation with so much clarity because it’s sometimes sort of between a corner and a wide free kick.

“The players know what cues to look for and what options to look for and then it’s up to them to choose what type of delivery, what type of area to go for and they executed it really well and it was a great finish.”

McKenna handed Axel Tuanzebe his debut at centre-half, dropping Luke Woolfenden to the bench for the first time since February.

“Axel we think is hopefully going to be an important player for us and we need to have him as an important player and for him to be a valuable member of the squad, part of the process is that we need to build him up,” McKenna explained.

“He’s coming back from injury, he got his first minutes in the cup last week and we were always going to integrate him into getting some league minutes as well because we’re going to need him and we’re going to need the squad.

“We’ve got internationals coming up, we’ve got international tournaments coming up, we’ve got a really busy December and we need enough players in our squad to be game-ready, to step in at any moment.

“We thought tonight after Fulham was a good opportunity to do that. We planned to play him and Cameron (Burgess) really from quite a while ago in this game.

“And I thought he did well. It gives us another strong option, a centre-half.

“Of course, Luke’s been really important for us, he’s having a good season, I thought he was one of our better players on Saturday and Cameron’s in good form, George (Edmundson)’s on good form and Axel stepped into the team tonight and did well and I’m sure will get stronger as well.”

Nathan Broadhead missed the match having been taken ill earlier today, McKenna confirmed.

“He was sick this morning,” the Blues manager continued. “He travelled up with us and had a bug, so he went back in a car and we’ll see how he is in the next few days.”