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Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy admits to ‘flat’ performance against Norwich City but is confident side will bounce back at Portman Road

Captain Sam Morsy admitted his Ipswich Town side put in a flat performance in their 1-0 defeat at arch rivals Norwich City but believes they will bounce back ‘bigger and stronger’ at Portman Road.

Marcelino Nunez’s 39th-minute free kick proved the difference between the two Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasing sides in a tight affair at Carrow Road where the Suffolk side looked far from their best throughout the day’s early game.

The Blues were only able to create a handful of chances late on but were unable to trouble goalkeeper Angus Gunn as their three-game winning run was punctured by a painful defeat.

Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy speaks to the media following the 1-0 defeat at Norwich City Picture: Russell Claydon
Ipswich Town captain Sam Morsy speaks to the media following the 1-0 defeat at Norwich City Picture: Russell Claydon

It ensured the club’s wait for a victory in the East Anglian derby will extend into a 16th year, having last beaten the Canaries back on April 19, 2009 by a 3-2 scoreline at Portman Road.

It was a sixth defeat of the season for Kieran McKenna’s side which saw them drop to second in the table with five games to go following the 3pm kick-offs. Leicester City won 2-1 with a late goal at home to Birmingham City but Leeds United lost by the same scoreline at play-off chasing Coventry City to leave the Blues sandwiched a point from each.

Asked if the defeat to sixth-placed Norwich hurt that bit more, Morsy said: "Yes, definitely, with the magnitude of the game it's our closest rivals, we knew how much this game meant to our fans so it's bitterly disappointing. It's three points lost, it's losing to a rival.

"It's really disappointing but our biggest strength has been how we bounce back. We bounced back from Cardiff with a couple of wins, we bounced back from Preston with a lot of wins on the spin so ultimately we'll be defined by how we bounce back."

The 32-year-old felt there was not a lot between the sides but admitted it was a decidedly below-par display from themselves.

"I thought we were quite flat and it was quite cagey for both teams which it's always going to be in these sort of games. Sometimes you expect a phenomenal game but you don't get many and it certainly wasn't that,” he said.

"But we wasn't at our best, we needed to be better in a lot of different areas which was disappointing.

"Second half we came on strong, we had a few decent chances but it wasn't our day today and we're going to come back bigger and stronger."

Quizzed on what a flat performance might have be down to, he replied: "It can just happen sometimes.

"I've played in big games where you can really want it. If there is a game you'd want it's this one against Norwich, your biggest rivals, but it just didn't turn out like that to be fair, for both teams really.

"There wasn't much in the game, there wasn't many chances.

"They score a long-range effort and we probably had the better chances to be honest.

"I don't think it was a great game but we just weren't at our best today."

Town have managed to claim more points from losing positions - 31 - than any team in the division this season with their penchant for coming up with late goals, but it was not something that materialised at Carrow Road.

"We came on strong late on and I thought we were going to get one but we just have to look at the whole performance and come back better," said Morsy.

"That's what we do really, we're not going to win every game but how you're defined is how you respond."

Asked about the referee Matthew Donohue’s decisions for the run of first-half free kicks which led to Norwich's goal, with the Town skipper penalised for bringing down Josh Sargent, he said: "Disappointing to be honest, there was a few which were really disappointing.

"The one for the goal he's lost his footing and slipped over and the ref's give it and the Axel (Tuanzebe) one leading up to that it's a really good tackle and he's give it. So he'll (referee Matthew Donohue) be disappointed when he looks at that because I think the decisions didn't go our way today.

"And then obviously it's a long-range effort and they can go in but it's about what we can do better."

But Town will have the chance to quickly bounce back midweek when they host 14th-placed Watford at Portman Road on Wednesday (7.45pm) before eighth-placed Middlesbrough are the visitors next Saturday (3pm).

On looking to grasp that first opportunity, Morsy said: "Definitely, yes.

"If we just thought we would win every game to the end of the season, football doesn't work like that.

"So again, it's always about how you respond, it's about how you come in Monday morning with a fresh head. How can we do better? What can we improve? How can we bring it to Wednesday and two home games, let's enjoy it.

Put to him that there is likely to still be twists and turns at the top involving Leicester City and Leeds United, he replied: "I think that's the only guarantee really.

"But again, we'll enjoy it. I think Wednesday will be our last night game so let's enjoy it, the fans will be right behind us.

"Again, it's disappointing for the fans today, we know how much it means but we know that we've got their full backing and they'll be there Wednesday cheering us on and hopefully we can get the win."

Asked if he thinks the automatic promotion race will go right down to the wire, he said: "Yes, probably. It's pretty much like every league, football's never straightforward, it's always about how you bounce back.

"Like Southampton (win) we didn't think 'right that's it, the league's done' and today the league's not lost.

"So we'll go again, really calm heads, we'll dissect the game, we have to improve, we have to get better and that's the challenge."

But will he have to now pick up some of the players from the weight of the derby defeat?

"Yes, of course it's disappointing, there would be a problem if it wasn't flat, it's be a problem if you didn't have to pick people up because you want them to feel that disappointment but not too long though. But you want them to feel it and then use that as motivation."

With Town having had a busy run of games going through Easter and dealing with illness in the camp as well as injuries, he was asked if it had become a bit too much going into a big fixture.

He replied: "You know what, it can happen. I didn't want to use that one but undoubtedly there's been illness and injuries but then it's the same for both teams.

"I don't know if they've had illness and injury, they might have done as well.

"I thought the level of performance was probably similar for both teams to be fair.

"Obviously they score a 30-yard, 35-yard, maybe more, free kick and we didn’t score, we had some good chances at the end. We had some good cut-backs and we came close but again the game was edgy, it didn't really flow for both teams I'd say.

"I'm sure the stats are very similar for both teams, I think we probably edged it but we needed to do more and we'll probably look back on the performance and look at how we can improve."

On the away support which the players went over to applaud at the end, Morsy said: "They're brilliant, they were there in full voice and always supporting us, clapping us off at the end and we know how much it means to them.

"And I think they know they've got a really honest group, the goal is to perform every week, we haven't performed today and yet the only thing to do is to put it right Wednesday."

He added: "I think by Monday once we've reviewed it and once we've saw what we can do better it'll be out of the system and we'll have the chance to go again."

Morsy also knows this latest derby defeat is not something that is going to necessarily define their season as they chase a coveted place in the Premier League with five games to go.

"Definitely, yes it's a derby but it's only three points,” he said.

"It's one we'd have loved to have won and it wasn't for a lack of effort or wanting it but just sometimes it's not your day."