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Ipswich Town midfielder Massimo Luongo admits squad are enjoying high-pressure games after draw at Hull City





Ipswich Town midfielder Massimo Luongo says the squad are enjoying the ride of playing in high-pressure games as the Blues moved a point closer to the Premier League following a pulsating 3-3 draw with Hull City at the MKM Stadium last night.

In an end-to-end encounter in which Town led on three separate occasions, Kieran McKenna’s side were forced to settle for a point against a Tigers side who sent their own play-off hopes to the final day in the process.

Omari Hutchinson scored two stunning left-footed strikes which looked to have settled the contest before Noah Ohio’s late leveller rescued a point for the East Yorkshiremen.

Massimo Luongo admitted Hull City caused him and Sam Morsy problems last night. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Massimo Luongo admitted Hull City caused him and Sam Morsy problems last night. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Luongo praised the opposition and the impact of George Hirst and Wes Burns, who both returned to the side following hamstring injuries. In particular Hirst, who netted the opener after 19 minutes on what was his 50th appearance for the club.

“It was an enjoyable game and I really enjoyed it,” Luongo said. “Both teams were at it and they had a game plan, they wanted to try and get a goal early and get bodies forward.

“They caused me a lot of problems, which I felt me and Samy [Morsy] did really well in dealing with their forward players. The goals we conceded we shouldn’t be too happy with, but the goals we scored I felt were incredible.

Massimo Luongo says the squad are enjoying the high-pressure matches. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Massimo Luongo says the squad are enjoying the high-pressure matches. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“Omari was incredible today. The front players, Hirsty and Wes after being out for so long have come in and slipped right back in. I thought the performance was really good with high energy, everyone worked their socks off.

“Credit to them, it was obvious they were throwing bodies forward and were trying to get a win. It could have gone either way, we had two good chances at the end which if we put away could have been 4-3 or 5-3, but that’s the way it is.

“We saw their line up and expected four strong attacking players. Half-time came and they put another body up there so they had five attacking players, one midfielder and three behind that.

“We knew it was going to be a different team to when we played them at home. Credit to them because they are a really good team.

“The 87th-minute goal from them was a kick in the face, but again at 3-3 we knew we’d get one more chance and at 3-2, we had a big chance with Jeremy. The belief’s there and we’ll just keep going.”

The Blues’ destiny remains in their own hands, with four points from the final two games guaranteeing them promotion to the Premier League.

However, Luongo says the squad are not feeling the pressure and that the culture runs right through the Town players.

He said: “Honestly we’re all just enjoying the ride, we’re really enjoying the high-pressure games. We’ve got a mix of boys who have been there before, we’ve got Sone Aluko who has done it all, we’ve got boys who are just starting their careers.

“First of all, we’re good lads. We want to work hard to do our best and just enjoy it. As long as you enjoy it, that’s when the performances come out.

“You want to work hard for each other and we get along, we want to work for the boy next to you. Then we’ll just carry that on into the game and whatever happens is meant to be.”

There was no doubt that Hutchinson was the man of the moment. The Chelsea loanee’s two goals were near-identical, both coming in spectacular fashion.

That takes the 20-year-old onto 10 goals in his first season in senior football, and Luongo says the youngster is flourishing at Portman Road.

The Australian said: “He’s a great lad first and foremost. He’s a good player, isn’t he?

“I’m excited to see what direction he goes in. He’s in a great place to learn his trade, big games like today and big games like Tuesday.

“With that under his belt he can go far, but he’ll do it himself by keeping his feet on the ground and focusing on the next game.”

Hirst was the other man on the scoresheet for the Blues having been absent for four months since limping off against Leicester City on Boxing Day.

Luongo believes the frontman’s return shows how strong the Town squad is and how there are plenty of players to call upon when needing ahead of the final week of the season.

“He’s been really good in training,” Luongo said of Hirst. “He’s come back fit, he looks incredible, he’s been in the gym. I was impressed by him and have been impressed all week by him.

“And Wes slipped back in like he wasn’t even out which is a credit to both of them working hard while they were injured.

“We brought 26 boys today, so everyone was involved and pushing each other and that’s been the theme of the whole season.

“They were called on today, it was a big ask for them to come straight back in but they did really well and whoever plays on Tuesday will do the same.”

Town are now sitting on 90 points from 44 matches, with a Premier League return after 22 years away looking a real possibility.

When the situation was put to him, Luongo said: “It’s incredible, honestly. We couldn’t ignore the result last night [Leeds United losing 4-0 at Queens Park Rangers], but we’ve just got to keep our head down, heads screwed on and just get the performances in.

“Over the course of the season it’s two games but if we play like that we’re going to be there or thereabouts after 90 minutes.

“Today was a really good performance and if we can push to get that again on Tuesday then we’ll be there or thereabouts.

“I wasn’t [watching the Leeds game] but there were a few boys were. [QPR] are obviously my old club so I had half an eye on it and had a few messages pop up. But I know a lot of the boys were watching it.”

The Blues midfielder says the squad has full belief they can get over the line, knowing that strong performances should lead to similar results.

He continued: “We have the belief but our focus is always on the belief to create chances, we have the belief to keep them out and have a really good performance on the day.

“We have the belief on Tuesday that we can put a really good performance in.”

Town were the only side in the Championship to come into the weekend off the back of a two-week break, having not played since the draw with Middlesbrough on April 13.

Luongo says the team used the break to their advantage and that has left the group feeling fresh and ready to attack the final block of matches through to the season’s conclusion.

“I think so,” the 31-year-old reflected on whether the break was beneficial. “Especially me as I’m getting old and I don’t like training too long! I got my training for two weeks and loading up my body to get these three games in a week then we’ll see where we are.”

Finally, Luongo praised the Blue Army who once again travelled in their numbers to Humberside for a rare Saturday night kick-off.

“I think they appreciate the effort that we’re given,” he said. “They’re so loud and at the end of the game they’re right behind us. Credit to them because they’re always amazing, but sometimes you forget to acknowledge it but they were really good today.

“We need them, we’ve needed them all season and they’ve been there so no doubt they’ll be there for the next one.”