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Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy reflects on ‘special’ comeback win against Southampton at Portman Road to regain pole position in title race

Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy described his side’s last-gasp 3-2 comeback victory against Sky Bet Championship promotion rivals Southampton as ‘a little bit special’ and revealed how playing at Portman Road has given them a sense of invincibility when falling behind.

The Blues wrapped up the perfect Easter for their supporters with substitute Jeremy Sarmiento’s 97th-minute winner seeing them make it six points from six.

It saw Kieran McKenna’s side end Monday back on top of the table, having seen Leicester City overtake them with a 3-1 victory over Norwich City in the lunchtime kick-off and leave Leeds United still trailing by a point after their late game also finished 3-1 at home to Hull City.

Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy drives forward against Southampton Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy drives forward against Southampton Picture: Barry Goodwin

At Portman Road, Egyptian international Morsy had provided the chipped pass for Leif Davis to fire them ahead with a stunning angled strike in the 13th minute but Che Adams poked home for a quickfire reply before Adam Armstrong made it 2-1 heading into the break.

But Town’s substitutes came to the fore once again to swing momentum back their way in the second half with Nathan Broadhead firing in the equaliser in the 68th minute from a Jack Taylor pass before the dramatic winner from Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Sarmiento.

The latest in a number of memorable comebacks at Portman Road, where they have only lost once in the league this season, Morsy admitted this one certainly stood out for the players.

Sam Morsy and his team-mates celebrate Leif Davis’ opening goal Picture: Barry Goodwin
Sam Morsy and his team-mates celebrate Leif Davis’ opening goal Picture: Barry Goodwin

“I think this one was a little bit special with a last-minute winner. It was brilliant to be fair,” he said.

“First half they were really good and credit to them.

“Second half we looked better, we looked stronger, we looked better on the ball and it was really good.

“And then the team spirit and character shone through and we got what we deserved in the end.”

Reflecting on Davis’ opening goal, only his second of the season, having become the assist king with a record 16 in the second tier for a full-back, Morsy said: “It was a brilliant finish and he’s got that in his locker to be fair.

“He’s got an incredible amount of assists this season but that was a really good goal.

“They were really narrow and sometimes a team’s strengths become their weaknesses so they overloaded on one side of the pitch which was good for them because they had different patterns and patterns where they were getting in.

“But on Leif’s side they were leaving him a little bit light to be honest and after that goal they didn’t seem to adjust either.

“Leif was the out ball and he had an unbelievable impact on the match.”

Town failed to build on their advantage though with Southampton taking less than a minute to hit back with a sweeping move that saw Joe Aribo lay on Adam Armstrong’s pass for Adams to slide home as they went on to take control of the rest of the half.

“The goal was poor from us to be honest, we were just too open,” said Morsy.

“From their point of view they’ll see it as a brilliantly-worked goal but from our point-of-view we were just far too open against a team like that with the calibre of players you have to be more switched on, more tight and more compact.

“It was disappointing from us and the momentum swung again and they looked in control so we got into half-time 2-1 down but at this place we knew the longer it goes we’re going to be in a very strong position because at this place we come on really, really strong. The fans get behind us and that’s exactly what happened really.

“We found our rhythm, we adjusted a few things tactically to nullify them a little bit and then obviously Leif had a big say in the goal and the red card as well, so it was good.”

Asked about mentality at half-time and how with this team there never seems to be any sense of panic, he said: “No, there’s not because you’ve got 50 minutes to come back into the game.

“If we went 3-1 down it would have been more difficult, not impossible but more difficult, so it would have been about being patient.

“We corrected what we needed to correct and I think second half we had more possession than them, we had more chances than them. We were getting our connections going on.

“Sometimes you have to respect a team’s going to play really well and they did for a period of time. But then we came on really strong and we looked really fit and strong and the subs came on and all had a really good impact.”

Asked about Sarmiento’s late winner from his perspective, he said: “It was brilliant.

“There was about a minute left and we played a few balls around the back, Clarky’s passed it to me and then I’ve seen Leif again where they’ve overloaded one side but kept the other quite light. And with Leif’s quality you can’t do that so I’ve managed to find him.

“He cut it back and Jeremy, Jez is very, how can I put it, he’s chaotic in a good way. He’s either chopping someone or it’s a tackle or he’s lunging in.

“I think he’s tackled, and then he just got back up and sort of poked it in.

“It was just disbelief really, wow, what a win.

“It’s nice, it was a great moment.

“You looked at the clock and it was 97 and 98 and it was a special moment and we’re going to need more of those but we’ll enjoy the win tonight for sure.”

Put to him that it must mean a lot to have done it against a side that is also eyeing up a top-two finish, he replied: “Yes because they’re a really good team.

“There’s no easy fixture. You only have to look at Friday and the results and anybody can beat anybody, that’s just a simple fact.

“But they’re a really strong team and when they get it going they’re difficult for anybody and they can beat anybody in the league.

“They’ve got top players who are really well coached. They’ve got great patterns and they’ve got loads and loads of positives.

“But then so have we. In a 98-minute game we’re going to create a lot of chances, we’re going cause stress and we’re going to open them up a few times.

“Ali (Al-Hamadi) came close, he hit the post and we had other chances and then we finished strong.

“It’s nice to beat a good team but it’s only three points and we’ll go again.”

It’s the little matter of the Easter Anglian derby with Norwich City at Carrow Road to come next and after recuperating from their latest exertions, 32-year-old Morsy says it’s one they will be raring to go in.

“Two games in quick succession, there’s loads of knocks, there’s illness and whatever so there’ll be a day or two of rest for the game which again is going to be a really good game and a really good occasion,” he said of facing the sixth-placed Canaries who they drew 2-2 with a Portman Road in December.

“Our fans will obviously travel in numbers and we just really look forward to it.

“We will embrace it, we’ve worked hard to play these sort of fixtures so we’ll go and give it our all.”