Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna hails ‘a good night’s work’ after comfortable victory against Millwall
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna hailed ‘a good night’s work’ as his side put Millwall to the sword with three first-half goals sending them on their way to a comfortable 3-1 victory that saw them cut the gap to leaders Leicester City to a point.
Conor Chaplin rifled in the first within five minutes of the Sky Sports televised Championship clash before Massimo Luongo finished a fine flowing move from the edge of the box seven minutes later.
A thumping header from Nathan Broadhead effectively settled the outcome in the 39th minute with substitute Kevin Nesbitt scoring a consolation 12 minutes from time.
“I think there were lots of good things about the performance,” said McKenna.
“Of course we got off to a good start with the early goal but also our intensity looked really good from the first whistle.
“We scored three really good goals. Three, in a nice way, typical goals for us possibly. And we created other good chances.
“Our counter-pressure was good, I have to say, especially in the first half.
“It’s an area we know we know we have to improve in this division because the level is much, much higher in terms of teams’ abilities to counter-attack against you.
“And in general we defended pretty well, especially our pressing from the front was really good.
“There were good things in our performance, definitely things and moments to improve on as well but overall a good night’s work.”
Asked what he made of their second-half display and whether he was frustrated with the goal they conceded, losing the chance of a clean sheet, he said: “I thought we played pretty well second half, I have to say.
“I didn’t think there was any big drop-off in our concentration, in our effort or anything like that so no problems.
“I thought the players tried hard to keep the standards high.
“Of course it’s not easy at 3-0 and Millwall weren’t really chasing the game either.
“We had some chances to get the fourth goal and if you get the fourth goal it puts a different shine on it.
“We didn’t do it, Millwall scored with probably their first foray into our box in a long time. That bit’s disappointing for the players, we wanted to get a clean sheet tonight, so that’s a disappointment.
“On the other hand I have to say the reaction to the goal was much better than Swansea in a sort of similar situation. We were in complete control of the game and we concede and there’s a bit of time left on the clock.
“With Swansea I thought there was a little bit of panic and I we were a little bit individual.
“I thought tonight we were regrouped pretty well and we defended well to see the game out and kept the ball in their half for moments as well.
“So I have no problems with the second-half performance at all.
“Sometimes you get the goals early and it’s hard to keep the flow going in the second half.
“I’m disappointed with the goal but pretty pleased with the reaction.”
Asked about full-back Brandon Williams picking up a knock to rule him out of the match, he said: “Yes, he missed a couple of days after West Brom but he’ll be hopefully training by the end of the week and see if he’s available for Coventry.”
McKenna was asked about suggesting in his Sky interview that the night was not perfect.
He said: “No, I didn’t think we played amazing, our standards are high. We scored three good goals, we (could have) scored some other goals, I thought we could have been a bit cleaner on the ball in the first half.
“We keep looking to push on and keep our standards really high and not get too carried away on Saturday when the game doesn’t go our way - we concede an early set play and it becomes a really difficult game away from home against a really good team.
“And at the same time tonight because we scored the first chance, we maybe scored the first two chances that we had in the game and we go on to win the game comfortably, it doesn’t mean we did everything right in the same way we didn’t do everything wrong against West Brom.
“It’s about keeping that balance. Of course, enjoy the wins, of course we’re disappointed when we don’t win, but it’s more about the honest reflection inside the group of the aspects of the performance that we’re looking for.”
Asked if it was the reaction he had wanted after a rare defeat at the weekend, the Blues losing 2-0 at West Brom, he said that had not been their motivation.
“Not the reaction, Certainly for me, and we didn’t use it in any way as any big motivator for tonight,” he said.
“The group know that we’re going to lose games, they know West Brom are a really good team, we know the step-up’s big and they know that we’re going to lose games.
“The reaction probably came in the dressing room after the game on Saturday where everyone was already determined, ‘OK, we go again on Monday’, and the reaction was Monday morning in training when all 29 players that we have in the first-team group including the four goalkeepers were at training, bright-eyed, ready to go again, ready to work.
“That’s the reaction. The last couple of days have been about preparing for Millwall and trying to go out and deliver a performance, and that’s the same process for Coventry whether tonight we had won, lost or drawn.
“There was a good reaction from the group straight after the game but tonight was just about going and trying to deliver a performance.”
Town, who remain seven points ahead of third-placed Leeds United but move to within a point of leaders Leicester City following the latter’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, are back at Portman Road on Saturday with Coventry City the visitors (3pm).