|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Tuesday, 14th February 2017 Kick-off 19:45
McCarthy: More Than a Nicked Point
Tuesday, 14th Feb 2017 23:20
Town boss Mick McCarthy felt the Blues’ 1-1 draw at Brighton was far from a “backs-to-the-wall, resolute, defend, nick a point” type performance with Albion keeper David Stockdale having “kept them in the game” at times.
Skipper Luke Chambers put Town in front with a header on nine, but Tomer Hemed equalised from the penalty spot in the 29th minute.
Asked whether he was proud of his team for a resolute defensive performance, McCarthy said: “How many saves did their keeper make? From Tom Lawrence, we had one headed off the line, we had another one blocked.
“I’m immensely proud of them but it wasn’t a backs-to-the-wall, resolute, defend, nick a point [performance], I think their keeper’s kept them in the game, to be honest.
“But I am proud of the way my lads stuck at it because they’re a good side, Brighton. They passed it, they moved it, we’ve had to defend. But we’ve had some chances as well.”
McCarthy believed the result was about right: “Yes, I do. I know they hit the post late on and that would have been a criminal injustice if that had gone in after the way we played, and because of the saves their keeper has made and the blocks on the line.”
The Town boss was full of praise for skipper and goalscorer Chambers: “He’s great, he’s been outstanding and even more so considering the speculation about him and Forest on the last day of the transfer window.
“He’s shown what a professional footballer should be all about, he’s continued in his manly way that he does things and didn’t get affected by it, he’s been terrific. I think that’s an example to all the players at our place and any young pro that would get affected by speculation, transfer talk and he’s out of contract, he’s been great.”
Chambers required treatment after the goal having collided with keeper and former Blues loanee Stockdale with life as a Town centre-half a dangerous job these days - “It would appear to be!” - but midfielder Emyr Huws also suffered a head injury and was off the field having stitches when his captain scored.
“He’s got a nasty cut, he’s got five or six stitches in the back of his head, they said it was a really nasty cut,” McCarthy continued. “I’m glad we waited for him to come back on because I thought he was great.”
Regarding Brighton’s penalty, he added: “I don’t blame Bruno for going down, he’s [Emyr Huws] had a little tug of his shirt. But I think if I was going to nick his wallet in a bar or take his beer off him I don’t think he’d fall over as easily.
“But I don’t blame him, he’s had a little tug of his shirt and gone over. And if you pull a shirt, they give penalties. It was the linesman that’s given it, not the referee. I can why it’s been given.”
Six yellow cards - which will lead to the club being fined - and most significantly Tom Lawrence’s 10th of the season, which means he’ll miss the home game with Leeds and the East Anglian derby at Norwich, put a dampener on what was otherwise an excellent evening.
“It’ll give a chance to somebody else, as disappointing as it might be,” the Town boss reflected.
“But I’m not going talk about [the bookings], I’ve nothing nice to say so I’m not going to say it at all because I’ll get into trouble.”
McCarthy had said a caution for dissent was the one he least wanted Lawrence to pick up.
“I can’t do anything about it, can I?” he added ruefully. “It’s in the rear-view mirror, I can’t do anything about it.
“Somebody else will play and let’s hope anybody who has been out has a similar effect to him, that we get that performance.”
McCarthy says games such as these are good experience for youngsters such as Josh Emmanuel and Myles Kenlock.
“Josh has just said ‘I’ll learn from this’ and I said ‘I hope so, you will’,” the Blues boss said. “Playing against a good team, he’s picking it up and he’ll only pick it up now with playing.
“You can coach them all you like on the training ground, he has to play against that level of player. Certainly Myles playing against Knockaert, who is fantastic. They’ve got to get their education by playing, not on the training ground.”
The result continues the Blues' recent run of improved form, which has now seen them draw with Brighton and Reading and win at Aston Villa.
“Quite clearly we are on an upward curve from where we were, that’s quite evident to everybody,” McCarthy continued.
“Let’s hope we can carry that on, we’ve got a home game now against a really good side [Leeds] on Saturday.”
What does he believe has been behind the upturn? “I guess there are a lot of reasons for that.
“I think the transfer window was certainly good to us in terms of Emyr Huws and Toumani, they’ve made a difference.
"The shape of the team, the way we’ve played has made a difference because we’ve got the players to play it. I could carry on but that’ll do for now. New players coming in has helped.”
At the start of the month few were anticipating five points from the last three games, but McCarthy points out that he did say his team has a habit of upsetting the odds.
“Don’t say that to me, they’ve maybe gone better than you thought or better than you predicted!” he said.
“They are tough fixtures, don’t get me wrong, and they have been hard games.
"But I did say openly that we’ll probably play well against them and get more points than we have against all the others when supposedly easy games - not easy games because there’s never an easy game in the Championship - but we’re not expected to win these and strangely enough we always seem to rise to the occasion. I’m hoping we’ll do it on Saturday as well.”
Brighton boss Chris Hughton, whose side missed the chance to go top, was disappointed to go behind so early on.
“Strange game, a frustrating game," he said. "We certainly didn’t play at the level that we know we can.
“It was frustrating to concede when we did. At that stage of the game that gives a good Ipswich side a massive lift.
“Certainly I thought by the time we got the equaliser we deserved it on the balance of play, but probably our levels weren’t as good as we’ve been.
“In the second half the game became a very open game and at 1-1 I thought we were the more in the ascendency and if there was a team more likely to score it was us.
“Probably Glenn Murray and Sam Baldock had the two clearest chances, but they had a very good chance from our play right early in the second half, probably 30 seconds into the second half.
“But a frustrating one because if you concede you’ve obviously got to score more goals than them to win the game and it became probably too open a game.”
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