|Ipswich Town 0 v 2 Middlesbrough|
Tuesday, 2nd October 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Hurst: You Can’t Give Goals Away Against a Side Like Boro
Tuesday, 2nd Oct 2018 22:48
Boss Paul Hurst admitted the damage was done when the Blues gifted Middlesbrough their two early goals during the 2-0 home defeat to the Teessiders, Mo Besic and Stewart Downing scoring in the 12th and 16th minutes.
“You’ve all witnessed that, you don’t need to be a football manager or have played to understand that,” Hurst said.
“Everyone can see, there’s no getting away from it and people might not like it but it doesn’t matter what system you’re playing or anything like that, you can’t give goals away and especially against a team like Middlesbrough, who have got quality in the ranks and give up very few goals.”
Hurst felt his team got better after the break: “I actually thought we caused them some problems and realistically should have got on the scoresheet at some point, but obviously a lot of that was in the second period.
“But I felt we did start the game [well], the lads were clearly getting on the ball and wanted it.
“But when a goal goes in it gives them a lift and it dents our confidence and then the second was when it really changed the whole atmosphere in the ground.
“It was a difficult night for everybody, but particularly as a player because you’ve got to show a lot of mental strength and character to keep wanting to get on the ball and not fear making another mistake."
Asked if he can do anything about the individual errors which have plagued winless Town’s season, he said: “To a degree, the only thing you can do is tell the players not to get the ball in certain areas and not take any risks whatsoever.
“To be honest, I don’t think the lead up to the second, it’s not really a risky situation, I don’t know quite what happened in truth.
“But you can basically just not want it and lump it up the pitch. However, I think where we’re at in terms of options at the top end of the pitch, we can’t do that and very few teams can do that against a team like Middlesbrough with the physicality that they’ve got and the height and the dominance that they have in the air.
“So I think you have to try and play against them to have joy, and we showed that at times.
“But the frustration is that you’re going up against a good team and then you give them two goals.
“And that makes a task extremely difficult and it just changes everything. If that had been the second half and there had been a similar-ish performance in the first half and we’d have got beat, it would have been frustrating still, but a lot of people would be a lot happier.
“But that first half, the goals made it extremely difficult but you’ve got to show enough character to get through.”
Has he got the players with that character in the squad? “The second half would suggest we do but we can’t just play for maybe 45 minutes and perhaps 10 minutes of the first half or whatever. It’s got to be a lot more than that.
“Maybe Boro took their foot off the gas, I’m not going to dispute anything like that, but we certainly won more second balls, we competed, we looked like we ran harder in the second half and that’s got to be right from the word go.
“We’re not good enough just to play for 45 minutes, that’s very evident. So, unfortunately all we can do is go to the next one. We can’t replay that game, we can’t get that first half back. Move on to the next game.
He says he’s looking for people to step up when Town travel to Swansea on Saturday: “We’ve got to haven’t we? I’ve watched some of their games.
“They are a team that look like they’ve changed quite drastically in terms of their confidence levels from the game that was on TV quite early in the season at Birmingham to then watching them in the game against QPR.
“They're back to what most of us would associate a Swansea team with in terms of moving the ball and having a lot of possession and making the opposition run around and chase. And that’s something we’re going to have to try and counter come the weekend.”
He added: “We know it’s a very difficult league anyway. I think everyone’s aware of that and have been for the past many seasons.
“But the situation that we find ourselves in, certainly every game’s going to be difficult. If we had a cup game against lower opposition it would still be approached with some trepidation at the minute because that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
“But there’s only ourselves that can get ourselves out of it, we’re not going to get any help. We’ve got to stand up and fight and find every ounce of energy and desire to try and change what we’re currently going through.”
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis felt his team put on as good a display as they have all season during the first 30 minutes in which they effectively won the game.
"The first half an hour was as good as we've played all season, we moved the ball quickly," he said.
"It was lovely having Mo back to that tempo that he played for us last year. When he plays that way he makes other people play.
"The big disappointment was that we got sloppy at 2-0. You can't do that, you have got to keep that tempo up.
"It's our third game on the bounce away from home and that's tough. The team has done absolutely fantastic. I'm really pleased but's 11 games. Another five or six and then we can take a view."
Meanwhile, Pulis paid tribute to Blues legend Kevin Beattie, who died last month, aged 64.
“What a great player, an unbelievable player, an absolute colossus of a player," he said.
"He played in what was probably the greatest or one of the greatest eras that Ipswich have ever had and he was just phenomenal. Everything that you’d want from a player he had.
“I spoke to him and was around him a couple of times and he was a fun-loving lad as well.
“I spoke to John Wark before the game and that team was a phenomenal team, unbelievable and that was before the two Dutch lads joined.
“And when the two Dutch lads came it just took another step and another level. That era, cor blimey, I’ll bet the club wish they could get that again.”
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