Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook accepts defeat on play-off chase after disappointing Northampton Town defeat
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook refused to criticise his players in the wake of tonight's 3-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Northampton Town but did accept their play-off race is done.
The Blues are down to 11th in the Sky Bet League One table and lie five points adrift of the top six after a fourth game without scoring and a fifth without a win.
They did create chances in this one – hitting the woodwork twice in the first half through Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears – while Kane Vincent-Young and Ollie Hawkins went close in the second half.
But poor marking saw Peter Kioso given free reign twice from corners, in the eighth and 32nd minutes, to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break.
Ryan Watson then compounded Town's misery by firing into an unguarded net in the 84th minute following goalkeeper Tomas Holy being caught horribly out of position with Flynn Downes unable to get control of his kick out.
It left manager Cook with a record of two wins, five draws and five defeats from his opening 12 matches since replacing Paul Lambert.
In his post match interview with BBC Radio Suffolk's Brenner Woolley he said: "Like I've just said to the club's one there, there will be no criticism of the players from me now, we are past all that now aren't we?
"Our supporters don't need to listen to me as what constitutes an experienced manager coming in now in what is 12 games now for me? I would have expected myself to do a lot better than any player that has gone out on to the pitch so the first level of criticism comes to me and my staff.
"I don't want the players getting any criticism.
"The fans have watched us for long enough now. The pain and frustration has been there for a period of time and eventually after this season ends hopefully they will see some signs in the club of a positive future."
Asked if the players' confidence was shots to bits he replied: "I just told the lads in there, you get one football career and sometimes you play for clubs in a league where everyone raises their game to play you.
"It is part of the goodness of playing for Ipswich, Portsmouth or Sunderland in these divisions but it is also a challenge because you become a big scalp.
"Unfortunately for ourselves and I am talking about myself here, and I'm not talking about under anyone else, it has not been good enough.
"I will not be criticising the players tonight, I will be shouldering that blame for them."
Put to him that in all honesty the play-offs aren't going to happen this season he said: "No, it's not.
"We came away from home tonight and we started the game so, so well but like I say to them, with the first confidence (hit) or disappointment in games, we always get (affected by that) disappointment.
"And as a young group of men disappointment on the pitch is hard because in my time at Ipswich they have not had many go to moments where they’ve been in trouble and they’ve got out of it.
“You’ve gone and crossed the ball, we got in great areas tonight and our quality (was lacking). But I’m not going to get drawn into aspects of the game tonight.
“The plan for going forward is to be a lot better than we are today, and I’m talking about myself and the staff, I’m not talking about the players.”
Asked what he was looking for across the remaining four games he replied: "Just to play. I thought we had a couple of great performances.
"I thought Andre Dozzell was excellent and I thought Gwion Edwards was as well – and that's what we want to see now.
“Again, I don’t want to tell you what’s going on in the dressing room, that’s not fair on the players that, but to manage clubs like ours, it’s a privilege, to play for the clubs it’s the same. But the supporters only want to hear that for so long.
“Unfortunately in transfer windows, you know what’s gone on in the last few weeks, it’s been a difficult time for everyone at the club.
“So let’s all, and from myself, let’s have a bit of manners and a bit of respect, let’s not make stupid, rash statements that people want to hear in football because I think as a sportsperson it’s got to hurt.
“And what you do is go away, let the hurt go to the bottom of your shoes and you do something about it.”
Asked whether he might look at playing some of the younger players at the club over the remaining games, Cook said: “I’m not going to speak like that. They’re painful these nights now, they really are. They hurt me deeply and I’m sure they hurt a lot of our supporters, on iFollow and people who are passionately wanting us to make the play-offs.
"We're not ready for the play-offs are we? Come on, let's have the truth sometimes and the truth hurts a little bit.
"We're going to be a club in massive transition now and the sooner that transition starts now the better."
Town host AFC Wimbeldon on Saturday (3pm), a side who beat them 3-0 last Tuesday.
Despite their win tonight Northampton remain four points adrift of safety in the fourth and final relegation place.
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