|Bristol Rovers 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 19th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: We Raised the Intensity in the Second Half
Saturday, 19th Sep 2020 18:39
Blues boss Paul Lambert was delighted with the way his side raised the intensity of their performance in the second half of their 2-0 victory at Bristol Rovers. A Max Ehmer own goal on 80 and Jon Nolan’s second of the season in the 89th minute saw Town to their second 2-0 League One win of the season and to the top of the table.
“I thought started really well,” Lambert said. “The football we’re playing at the minute I think is great, it’s great to watch.
"The only criticism I had was that the speed of the ball was a little bit slow but that was because we were that comfortable and that tends to happen at times. We just raised it a little bit in the second half and I thought some of the football was great.
“They tried to match us by putting somebody on Andre Dozzell, which I thought would have happened after the first couple of games.
“Again I thought the midfield was great. Flynn Downes came on and was a huge presence as well. Jack Lankester came on and contributed. Big Oli Hawkins contributed. A lot of good football there, really good, comfortable with the ball. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
He says his message to his players at half-time was a simple one: “Just raise the intensity a little bit. I thought in the first half we were in control of the game with the ball, we controlled the game, controlled the ball.
“It was just a matter of being a little bit quicker in the final third because we had so many good wide areas but we didn’t pick people out when I thought we should have. The second half was very good.”
Dozzell again shone despite being man-marked by the Pirates and Lambert says he spoke to the 21-year-old a few days ago about being singled out for attention.
“I had a chat with him during the week and I said if someone man marks you, number one, it’s a compliment, and number two you have to find an answer to the problem,” he said.
“I tried to help him with certain little things but he’s got to go out there and do it and he does it. Great left foot, he can find a pass, can play round corner, can play one and two touches really easily and I think he’s revelling playing that role.”
Like Dozzell, Nolan has also made a huge impression in the opening weeks, having already scored twice.
“I think he’s been superb, that’s another goal, but just his general game, his touch, one-twos, just his general game is very, very good,” the Blues manager said.
“I think all the midfield guys are complementing on another really well and it doesn’t matter which midfield guys I play, they seem to gel together.”
Is Nolan more likely to score than the other midfielders? “I don’t know because Teddy Bishop’s already scored as well. Andre might be a bit different, playing a bit deeper.
“Flynn can definitely contribute, Emyr Huws can definitely contribute, but I think the way the team is playing in general football-wise is really pleasing.”
Lambert admits he was slightly concerned about Rovers grabbing a goal against the run of play in the second half with the Blues still to find an opening.
“You’re always in fear of that because with all the dominance we had,” he added. “They had maybe a 10-minute spell just after half-time and we knew they would come into it a little bit. They’ve spent a good bit of money, Bristol Rovers.
“The way we played is really, really good. We’ve got guys [who haven’t played a lot of matches]. Teddy Bishop, I don’t know when the last time he played a succession of games was, Jack Lankester’s the same, Dozzell’s the same, Emyr Huws is the same, guys that have had injuries here for a long time.
“I find it really pleasing how we’re playing. Stephen Ward has come in and has been terrific. Chambo’s stepped up massively as well and the two centre-backs have been outstanding.”
The Blues have now kept clean sheets in their first two League One games and Lambert is delighted with his defenders.
“I think they’re playing ever so well the back lads, the back four,” he said. “Even Myles Kenlock and Janoi Donacien did great on Wednesday night [against Fulham].
“The back four’s been really, really strong and that will keep breeding confidence. It’s not just defending, it’s with the ball, I think we’re really good from the back with the ball.”
Lambert is equally pleased with the number of goalscoring opportunities being created: “I think the way we’re playing is great, the number of chances is coming because of the way we’re playing, I think that’s evident.
“There’s a lot of confidence in the guys, in the team. The guys were playing against Fulham with a lot of confidence, so I think everybody’s playing with confidence and I think if you have that then you’ve got a good chance. I think the style of play is definitely suiting them.”
Lambert was delighted for Jack Lankester, who assisted both goals having come off the bench after not playing since January 2019 due to two stress fractures to his back.
“It’s been horrendous for that kid with his back,” the Town boss said. “Coming back and then feeling it again and having another operation.
“Mentally that’s tough and all credit to him. Technically, I don’t have a problem with that, fitness will come the more and more he trains and the more and more he gets involved. The contribution he made was huge and if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes like that, then great.”
Lambert was also pleased with his other substitutes: “Oli’s a handful, I always say that, he gives us a different dimension. James Norwood worked really hard up there, that’s another 60 minutes under his belt, so I’m happy with him.
“I was happy with Big Oli on Wednesday and today I thought he was excellent. Flynn came on and I thought he did great and Jack Lankester set up the goals.”
Regarding Alan Judge, who missed out with an injury, Lambert says the issue is nothing too significant.
“He picked it up and Wednesday night and it was a risk to play him today, and that was a blow because he’s been doing really, really well, Judgey,” he said. “Hopefully next week he’ll be OK. It’s his hamstring but it’s not serious, hopefully it’s not too bad.”
Better news was Kayden Jackson returning to training yesterday having been out of action since pre-season with a groin injury.
“It’s great because the more bodies we have back the better, the competition’s there for everybody to see,” Lambert reflected. “He trained on Friday and hopefully there’s no reaction and he gets a good week under his belt.”
The win took Town to the top of the league but Lambert has said before he pays little attention to tables at this stage: “It’s nothing, if that’s where we are at the minute. Let’s see.”
Reflecting on back-to-back wins in the League One season's first two games, he added: “Any win you get is good. Any win you get in football is a hard-earned win.”
The Blues now have what will be a rare midweek off this season before Rochdale visit Portman Road next Saturday, which Lambert welcomes: “That will be good, that will be nice and refreshing.”
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