Lambert: We Dominated the Game But We've Got to Be More Ruthless
Tuesday, 11th Feb 2020 23:33
Town boss Paul Lambert rued his side’s failure to take their chances as they drew 0-0 away at AFC Wimbledon. The Blues saw most of the ball throughout the match but were unable to take a number of opportunities.
“We dominated the game, finishing again [was the problem], the same as Saturday,” Lambert said.
“We had enough chances to win two or three games. It’s taking our chances. We dominated the game, dominated the ball but you’ve got to score.
“The level of performance, I couldn’t ask any more [than the way they] dominated the game, to come here, a tricky game, but the chances we had, we’ve got to be ruthless.”
Asked whether the problem is perhaps confidence or nerves in front of goal, Lambert reflected: “It’s probably a bit of both really. You look at James Norwood, he scored for fun at Tranmere last season. OK, it’s a different level, different expectancy level, different clubs.
“He hits the crossbar, the ball falls for him, but he doesn’t quite get his shot away.
“He had chances down this end as well. There are chances there, it’s not as if we’re not creating chances, but we’ve got to be more ruthless.”
Norwood, who has scored 11 times this season, netted regularly at the start of the campaign. Is he finding the step up from League Two tougher now?
“If your team-mate or your player has a hard time, you get your arm round him and you pick him up and try to make sure the guy is feeling good about himself,” Lambert said.
“And that’s what we’ll try and do. OK, he’s a bit low on confidence at the minute but his goals at the start of the season were excellent for us.
“He had the injury, which is fine, he had chances and then tonight and just didn’t manage to take them. Normally he’s more clinical than that.”
Town remain seventh but now seven points behind leaders Rotherham and six behind Peterborough who have climbed to second and Lambert admits the Blues have to start putting a run together if they’re to be in the promotion mix come May.
“We have to start to win, everybody knows that,” he said. “We have to start to win. As I said, performance-wise, coming here, playing as well as we did, you can’t play that well and not score.”
He added: “It’s a true saying that if the game was only about possession it would be great. But you’ve got a goal to score and you’ve got a goal to defend. You cannot have the ball dominance we have and not take chances”
Given the lack of goals, Lambert was asked if Freddie Sears, a sub this evening, is ready to start.
“He’s doing alright, but you’ve got to remember he was out for a year and there’s not been one major tackle I’ve seen him go into and he’s jumped up and gone again, even though he’s had little hits,” he said.
“You’ve got to watch him as well, you can’t just throw him in there and think he’s going to stand a lot of kicking and things like that. But he’s doing really well, and that’s a bonus for us.”
Is the expectancy level getting to the players? “At any big club the expectancy level is always there, it doesn’t matter where you are, in any country, if you’re a big club you’ve got to stand up to it.
“That’s why you’re at a big club, you like to think people have got the mentality to stand up to it.
“There are some young guys in the side, some experienced guys in the side, but this is probably the first time they’ve had this expectancy level that they have to try and achieve something.
“It will be good for them in the long run. They might not feel like that now, but once you’re right in the mix you know it.”
Have they got that character, that mentality? “They have to, you have to have it. You have to find it within yourself.
“I just said to them, ‘Stick together with it, there’s a long way to go, you’ve got nine games at home. You played well here, you played well at Sunderland but you’ve got to score goals when you’re on top’.
“If we’d scored one, if Nors’s shot that hit the crossbar goes in, it’s a different game.”
Lambert explained why he started Josh Earl ahead of Myles Kenlock at left wing-back.
“Just because of the way the game is going to be here,” he said. “I thought he had a really good first half, Josh, and looked really assured with the ball at his feet, that was a plus.”
Town will have Gwion Edwards back from his two-match ban at the weekend and Luke Garbutt could also return from his thigh strain.
“He’s doing alright, we’ll see how he is later on in the week,” he said. “As I said, it wasn’t as bad as we first thought. He’s doing OK.”
Town’s form in the last 20 games has seen them win only 22 points - winning just five times - with only two teams having picked up fewer. Asked if that’s a worry, Lambert said: “We’ve had a helluva time, we turned the corner a bit in January, but the last four games, we’ve lost three and drawn one.
“The draw stops the rot from the three defeats so that’s alright on that side but you can’t dominate games and not score. You have to score goals when you’re on top and you have to get through it, you have to come through it.”
How might that change? “You have to win. One win does it. As I said before, we’re playing decent football, we’re playing good football at certain moments, dominating the game but you have to score when you’re on top, and that’s football all over.”
Lambert believes there are goals in his strikers: “Yes, because they did it at the start. But at the start of the season there’s no pressure, everybody’s playing.
“It’s when it comes towards the end of the season and you see what’s at stake. They’ve got goals in them, they just have to bring it out.
“It’s not as if we’re not creating. I’d be more worried if we weren’t creating chances.”
The Blues bench was directly in front of the Town stand and Lambert had praise for the travelling support.
“The fans are brilliant here, some of the things that they’ve been through, they’ve been brilliant support for me,” he said.
“Everybody’s disappointed we’re not winning, I get all that. Fans, dear oh dear, I could never say anything bad about the Ipswich fans.”
Lambert insists he’s still chasing a top two place, despite the lack of form with only 13 matches left.
“Absolutely, because there’s a long, long way to go but we have to start to win games,” he said.
“If we weren’t creating chances then I’d think ‘OK, we’re not creating’ but we’re creating things and things are happening, we’re on the front foot, dominating things and should have had more out of today and Saturday, that’s for sure.”
Wimbledon boss Glyn Hodges admitted the game wasn't easy on the eye and was pleased with his team's dogged display.
“We showed character and resilience," he told the Dons' official website. "To a man they worked their socks off. The subs came on and made a contribution, everyone fought and stood up to it.
"There were some top performances. Though it wasn’t one for the purists, it was a more satisfying game because it was like a war of attrition.
“We are showing signs that we can play our football, that we can match teams with our play, as we have some good players. This was another sign that we can mix it up, it was a physical battle and we are probably going to have something similar on Saturday with Rotherham.
"We just have to stand up, show that character and resilience again, stick together as a team, and hopefully we’ve got enough.
“We knew that they would be hitting lots of long balls and we knew that they would go for knockdowns. We knew it wasn’t a game for the balls to be played on the floor.
“We tried to get the ball down, but we probably made a couple of mistakes in trying to play in the wrong areas, but credit to the boys in that they showed courage to stand up to the test.
“We did that in the way that the players put their bodies on the line and there were times when we showed courage to try and play. It wasn’t in the right places at times, but at least they looked to do that. I am delighted.”
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