Lankester: Important to Get Big Week Off to Winning Start
Sunday, 22nd Nov 2020 18:39
Jack Lankester believes it was important for the Blues to get their big week of three home games off to a winning start having secured Saturday's 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury with an injury time header.
Town, who are third behind second-placed Peterborough on goals scored, host new leaders Hull City on Tuesday before Charlton, currently fifth, visit Suffolk next Saturday.
Asked how significant the win against the Shrews was, Lankester said: “Very important, there’s a big week ahead of us, three home games in a week, so it was nice to get off to a winning start.
“We kept going, they obviously sat off us quite a bit and let us put the pressure on them and we got the result in the end.”
The 20-year-old says he wasn’t worried despite the Shrews holding on to the 1-0 lead they claimed via Oliver Norburn's fourth-minute penalty until the 75th minute when Ethan Ebanks-Landell scored an own goal out of nothing.
“No, we know how we play and we know we play well enough to create chances and they were always going to come,” he insisted.
“We kept going, right from the back all the way through to the front players, so it was a nice win.”
Lankester won the game with a header in the seventh minute of injury time, stooping to nod home after an Alan Judge shot had been palmed out by visiting keeper Harry Burgoyne.
“You’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time and you get those chances, rebounds, and I’m happy to get the goal,” he reflected.
Late, late winners such as that usually send crowds wild but sadly there were no fans there to witness it.
“I think the celebration would have been a bit crazier if there were more people here and my family, it makes it feel a little bit better,” Lankester said.
“Would I have been mobbed by the front row? Might have done! We’ll not know now. But the win was what we wanted going into the next game.”
The goal was Lankester’s second in the last two league games having scored at Sunderland earlier this month. Having started at the Stadium of Light, was the academy product disappointed to be on the bench against the Shrews?
“Obviously everyone’s fighting for positions, it’s healthy competition and it just makes you want to play well even more,” he said. “But it was nice to come on and get the result.”
Lankester was one of four subs used by the Blues with clubs now able to field five, which gives those in the dugouts a greater chance of being involved.
“If you’re on the bench you’ve always got to be ready,” he said. “I came on in the first half and I was always ready for it and it was nice to get on.”
The game was Lankester’s ninth game of the season in all competitions - four starts and five sub appearances - following his lengthy absence due to stress fractures to his back.
He says he’s had no problems with the injury and is pleased to be back out on the turf after going 19 months without a senior match.
“Touch wood, it’s been great for me to get through and play some games,” he said. “I haven’t done it for a long time so it’s nice to be out there with the boys.”
Lankester again played in the midfield three when he replaced the injured Jon Nolan in the 22nd minute, a position he says he is enjoying.
“I love it, especially when you have the balance of the holding midfielder, it allows me to get forward and get in the box. I enjoy that,” he said.
“But I also enjoy playing wide, I like to have that versatility in my game.”
That holding player was his great friend Brett McGavin, who was making only his second league start having impressed in the FA Cup tie against Portsmouth last week.
“It’s amazing, we’ve been friends since we were little boys, we live together at the moment a couple of minutes from the training ground, so it was great to be out there with him and celebrate the goal with him,” he said.
“Our families are close, we’re in the same friend group from school, we spend every minute of every day together and it’s nice to be out there with him.”
The two are former residents of skipper Luke Chambers’s annexe where a number of the club’s younger players have lived in recent years, Lankester moving on a couple of years ago and McGavin last year.
He says the two living together has been a bonus during the pandemic when they have been unable to see other friends and family.
“Me and him can enjoy our PlayStation by ourselves,” he laughed. “It’s nice to have someone there in these times when we're not able to see other people and I'm not seeing my family as much. It’s nice to have someone close.”
Lankester was full of praise for McGavin, a fellow former pupil of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds.
“He’s brilliant, everyone can see the player he is,” he said. “He’s comfortable on the ball, has got a great range of passing and technique and I don’t think he’s ever looked out of place in our team and it will be good for him to get some more games in.”
He says McGavin, the son of ex-Colchester and Birmingham forward Steve, formerly the head of Town’s academy recruitment, is an ideal replacement for Andre Dozzell, whose place he has taken during the ex-England U20 international’s suspension.
“They’re quite similar, very technical players, great distribution of passing,” he continued.
“I think Brett learns a lot from Andre in training, with him obviously being a bit older. Watching them, they’re both incredible players.”
Lankester and McGavin could have a big part to play in the weeks to come with Nolan (groin) and Teddy Bishop (ankle) joining Flynn Downes and Cole Skuse (both knee) in picking up injuries.
“We’ll see how those boys are, but I can play in midfield when I’m needed to and I quite enjoy that role,” he said.
Asked whether there was extra pressure to beat the Shrews, who are third from bottom, with two fellow challengers at Portman Road later in the week, Lankester said: “The fans probably would have been expecting it and Hull and Charlton are big teams in this league.
“So this will give us the momentum and confidence going into those games.”
Quizzed on how tough it was with Shrewsbury putting everyone behind the ball for much of the game, he added: “It’s always hard to break down but you’ve just got to be patient and wait for the opportunity.”
Might Town have to get used to opposition clubs taking that approach? “Yes, clubs will look at us and think ‘They can play’, which we can do, so they might do that. We just have to remain patient and wait for the opportunity to come around.”
Looking ahead to the games against Hull and Charlton, he added: “They’re massive for us. We’ll go into the games like we do every other wanting to win and we’ll play our way and see where that gets us.”
Town are yet to beat any of the sides in the top eight this season, having similarly been unable to defeat the higher flyers last season, and a victory over one or both of the Tigers and the Addicks would go some way towards casting aside that albatross.
“It would be nice to put our mark on the league,” he said. “And show that we want to be the best team in the league and go up.”
Photos: Matchday Images
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