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Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna labels his side’s FA Cup defeat to Maidstone United as ‘a horrible game to lose’





Blues boss Kieran McKenna paid full credit to Maidstone following the National League South side’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over the Blues at Portman Road and admitted it was “a horrible game to lose”.

Goals from Lamar Reynolds and Sam Corne sandwiched Jeremy Sarmiento’s first home goal for the Blues to see the non-league side to a famous victory.

“First of all, it’s full credit to Maidstone, it’s a fantastic day for them, they worked ever so hard for it,” McKenna said.

Jeremy Sarmiento in action against Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jeremy Sarmiento in action against Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“Of course, they rode their luck as well, but they were very, very clinical and they showed a fantastic spirit to get the result.

“It’s a bad day for us and it’s a lot of disappointment and we’re going to have to live with that and produce a response next week.

“I thought we started ever so well, I can’t really fault the attitude. We prepared the game well, we started terrifically and that’s irrespective of the level of the opponent.

Cameron Humphreys in action against Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Cameron Humphreys in action against Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“I thought it was a really good start to the game, we had big chances, we hit the woodwork a couple of times, the keeper produced some fantastic saves and the longer the game goes on like that, our belief drops a little bit.

“They defend with more resolution and at that stage they’re hoping for a moment and they got it with the corner.

“We had an injury on the edge of the box that we should have communicated better on the pitch. They broke away and got the goal that really put the tie to life for them.

“I think we’ve had 38 shots on goal, the opposition have had two, we need to be, of course, much more clinical than we were. They were incredibly clinical with their two and they defend with great resolution in their goal and full credit to them for that.”

Delight for Maidstone after Lamar Reynolds' opener. Picture: Helen Cooper
Delight for Maidstone after Lamar Reynolds' opener. Picture: Helen Cooper

McKenna felt Sarmiento was fouled ahead of Maidstone’s second goal: “I thought there was pretty clear foul that led to the ball being given away.

“Having said that, their reaction was faster than ours to break for goal and again, it was a really good finish. But I thought it was a foul.”

Town also appeared to have a very good shout for a penalty in the second half when George Edmundson looked to be tripped, Premier League referee Anthony Taylor instead booking the Blues defender for a dive.

Jack Taylor returned to the starting line-up. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jack Taylor returned to the starting line-up. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“I haven’t seen the replay, it looked like it live, to be honest,” McKenna said. “Maybe the fall can sometimes go against you, but it looked like his foot was kicked at the time but I haven’t seen it back.”

The result illustrated that the magic of cup is still alive with shocks still happening every round.

“We really didn’t want to be on the end of one and we prepared the game well and respected the opponent and did some good things in the game,” McKenna reflected.

Ipswich Town were stunned by Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town were stunned by Maidstone United. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“But that’s cup competitions, it happens every year, it happens all over the world, it’s happened to better teams than us before in terms of being knocked out by a side in the lower reaches, and it’s Maidstone’s day.

“Of course, We’ve had lots of good days over the last couple of years here, we’ve not had too many bad ones, but today is their day and they deserve to enjoy their celebrations and we wish them all the best for the next round.”

McKenna made 10 changes, as he has so often in cup matches, but felt that wasn’t a factor in the defeat.

“We’ve been consistent with that,” he said. “We did it for Wolves in the Carabao Cup this year, for example and won the game.

Manager Kieran McKenna admitted it was a ‘horrible game to lose’. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Manager Kieran McKenna admitted it was a ‘horrible game to lose’. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“We utilised the squad in the cup competitions, it’s a necessity for us really with the competition and the level that we’re competing with in the Championship this year and with how much of a stretch that is for our players.

“We need to utilise the squad, we utilise it every game in the league, to be honest, we make five subs pretty much every game and we utilise it in the cup competitions.

“We’ve been consistent with that. I think the team today, certainly had the quality to win the game.

“I think we created more than enough chances to win the game. Many aspects of the performance were good enough to win the game, apart from the most important bits, which is putting the ball in the net and stopping them doing it. That’s why we’re out of the cup.”

Quizzed on his emotions, whether he was angry or frustrated by the result, McKenna responded: “Anger usually comes if there was a lack of effort from the players and I didn’t think there was that. I didn’t think they showed any lack of respect for the opponent, I didn’t think there was any lack of effort on the pitch.

“I thought we tried, I thought we created lots of opportunities. Nobody planned to not take them, their goalkeeper had a fantastic game, they made fantastic blocks.

“The goals, and certainly the first goal, is something that we need to learn from. But I think it’s more disappointment at this stage, disappointment for the supporters mostly and for everyone at the football club that we’ve not managed to go through to the next round of the cup, which the club hasn’t done in a long time [2007] and we’ve been knocked out at home in front of a full stadium to a lower league team.

“Of course, it’s a horrible game to lose and it’s a bad day for us, but, honestly, I don’t have too many complaints about the efforts of the players.”

Looking ahead to next week’s Championship match at Preston North End, McKenna was asked whether it was important for his side to block out this result.

“We’ve certainly got to find the right response,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s just about blocking it out because I think every experience we go through, we go through taking something from it.

“Of course, it’s a bad experience to go through but we have to go through it as a group, taking something from it. We have to take the lessons from it and try and find a way to utilise it to make us stronger.

“That’s what the next few days will be about at the training ground and we need to re-find our focus for Preston next weekend and prepare well again to try and go and deliver a performance there and make sure that we’re competitive in the last 18 games in the league.”

Asked if he is confident he can add a striker before Thursday’s deadline, McKenna confirmed he wants to add two.

“We want a couple, to be fair,” he said. “We’ve lost bodies over the course of the transfer window and we needed to add in that area anyway.

“That’s still the target and we’re still hopeful. I’ve said many times, January is a tough window, we have limitations in terms of what we can access but we’re going to work hard as a club to do that over the next few days.”