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Kieran McKenna provides thoughts on Ipswich Town’s FA Cup victory against AFC Wimbledon

Town boss Kieran McKenna was pleased to progress to round four of the FA Cup, the Blues winning what he felt was a potentially tricky tie 3-1 away against 10-man AFC Wimbledon.

A Josh Davison own goal gave the Blues the lead on eight but home skipper Jake Reeves levelled from the penalty spot nine minutes later.

Axel Tuanzebe’s first career goal five minutes before the break restored Town’s lead and a third from Jack Taylor right on time saw the Blues to victory over the Wombles, who had been reduced in number just before the hour following Harry Pell’s dismissal for two bookable offences.

Manager Kieran McKenna was pleased to progress in the FA Cup Picture: Barry Goodwin
Manager Kieran McKenna was pleased to progress in the FA Cup Picture: Barry Goodwin

“Job done,” McKenna said.

”FA Cup third round away from home against a team doing well in League Two, so it had the potential to be a really tricky tie.

“Good to get through to the next round. Conceding the goal from the penalty kept the game on edge and we weren’t as clinical as we needed to be to kill it off earlier in the second half, but we got there in the end.”

Kieran McKenna confirmed Brandon Williams was ill for the trip to AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kieran McKenna confirmed Brandon Williams was ill for the trip to AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin

He added: “It was a tough cup tie. It was always going to be. I thought we started the game well. We got ourselves ahead in the game with a well-worked corner. I know it was a deflection but the set-up was well planned out. I thought it was a good start.

“Of course, then we gave away the penalty and gave away the goal, so the game’s a bit on edged, AFC made it tough for us and it was everything you’d expect in a cup tie, it wasn’t all our way.

“We certainly had chances to score much more goals than we did but we didn’t get the two-goal margin until too late in the game for it ever to be 100 per cent comfortable.

“It was a tough cup tie, important to go through. Some good performances and things to improve on the training ground next week.”

A late Jack Taylor goal secured a win for Kieran McKenna’s men Picture: Barry Goodwin
A late Jack Taylor goal secured a win for Kieran McKenna’s men Picture: Barry Goodwin

McKenna named a stronger team than might have been expected following the Blues busy spell of fixtures over Christmas.

“We respect the competition, we had a bit of a break from Stoke, we’ve got some time ahead of Sunderland,” he said.

“Also, we don’t have too many bodies, so Luke Woolfenden is an example of a player who has played the last couple and it was important to have a backline that we’re trying to work on and build on from what we did in the Stoke game.

“A mixture of decisions, rotating the team but also strong enough to do what we needed to do today.”

McKenna was pleased that his side scored two set-piece goals in the first half: “That’s good. We’ve not scored as many set-piece goals lately as we’d like, really. and we’ve had some big chances from them as well.

“And with Leif [Davis] out for a few games, that changes [things because] he delivers 90 per cent of our set plays.

“We’ve been working hard on them, the first one was really well worked and it’s important to score the scrappy and second-phase ones as well. Nice to get two set plays.”

In the second half, Nathan Broadhead was moved to the number nine role following Freddie Ladapo’s substitution and the Blues manager was asked whether it was a role in which he might field the Wales international more regularly given Town’s current lack of strikers.

“We’ve got Nathan’s played there, Conor [Chaplin]’s played there a lot in his career and Wes [Burns] has played there.

“We try and have forwards on the pitch and the two who have played most commonly behind the central striker, Nathan and Conor, are both strikers by trade, and Wes started the same almost plays as a right-sided striker for us sometimes.

“We have options in the building and we’ll look at what the best option is for each game.”

Town had Harry Clarke and Brandon Williams absent from the squad: “Harry was injured and Brandon’s ill.

“[Brandon]’s not had a rhythm for a while in terms of playing and training, so hopefully we’ll get a better run at it in the next few weeks.

“[With Harry] it’s still the same situation [with his achilles]. He’s undergoing a course of treatment and hopefully that is not an issue that can be rectified immediately but that will help the management of the pain and something that he’s managing through the season.”

Might the right-back miss games as a result? “We don’t know. He’s having a course of treatment, injections, some medication and we’ll see how it responds to it next week.”

Town added midfielder Lewis Travis on loan from Blackburn on Friday and McKenna was pleased to make the signing.

“He’s a really experienced and combative and energetic and dynamic midfielder, he has a lot of qualities to like,” he said of the 26-year-old Rovers club captain.

“We felt like that was one area of the pitch where we wanted to reinforce and strengthen and to be able to pick up a player like Lewis on loan, we feel that’s a really big boost for us.”

McKenna says the one-time Liverpool youngster should be ready to be involved next week at home to Sunderland when skipper Sam Morsy will serve the first-match of his two-game ban.

“Yes, physically, he’s okay,” he said.

“He’s not been starting as much lately, but physically he’s fit.

“Of course, there’s a settling in period in terms of understanding our principles on and off the ball, but the benefit is that he knows the league and he’s in good shape.”

Asked whether any other deals are close, McKenna said: “No, nothing as far as I know is close. I did say that on Thursday, but that was a striker!”

McKenna welcomes the progress in the competition, in part as it allows fringe players to get games under their belts.

“That’s important,” he said.

“We’re coming out of a really busy schedule, but the second half of the season isn’t as intense in the Championship in terms of midweek games. We welcome the extra game. We’ve got a strong squad, we want to add to it in the next few weeks, hopefully, so the extra games will be good for us.”

Among those impressing was Cameron Humphreys, again in his secondary role at left-back: “He grows into the game. He’s such a kid, such a good mentality and game understanding. I thought as the first half went on and into the second half really grew into it and became a big threat down the left-hand side.”

Asked whether he would like a big top flight club to challenge his team in the next round, McKenna added: “That would be nice. We’ve had a couple of Premier League teams this year and they’re good challenges. A big draw would be nice, a home draw’s nice and we want to go far in the competition if we can.”