Ward: This Can't Continue, It Can't Happen Again
Sunday, 13th Dec 2020 17:33
Left-back Stephen Ward admits Town’s poor record against teams in the top half of the League One table can’t continue, the Blues having been comfortably defeated 2-0 at home by Portsmouth at Portman Road on Saturday.
Former Republic of Ireland international Ward admitted losing to another of the challengers towards the top of League One was a blow, Town having been defeated by Hull City, 3-0, and Charlton, 2-0, in their previous two home matches.
The Blues, who won just twice against teams who finished in the top 10 last season, are yet to beat anyone in the top nine this season having been beaten away by Lincoln, 1-0, Doncaster, 4-1, and Sunderland, 2-1.
“Really disappointed, really, really disappointed. It was a big chance for us to turn over a good team and start the week well,” he said.
“Listen, the lads are really disappointed with how we performed. It just lacked something today. I think we’ve said it before about being a bit more streetwise, a bit tougher.
“It’s not always going to be as easy to play the football we want to play and we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and find that inner belief, that strength to get through these games and make it a lot more difficult [for the opposition] than we have, especially the teams that are up there that we need to be beating and turning over.
“We’ve made it too difficult for ourselves and it’s disappointing. Especially with the fans back in.
“It was great to have them back in and we’re really disappointed that we couldn’t give them a performance and a result that they deserved coming back in after this long.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror, we’ve got to regroup, we’ve got to draw a line under it.
“We’ve had a long discussion in the dressing room. This can’t continue, it can’t happen again. We’ve got to dust ourselves down starting Tuesday [when Burton Albion visit Portman Road] and start afresh and make sure as a team we’re a lot stronger, a lot tougher, we need to show that side of the game a lot more than we have, especially in these types of game.”
Town, who have dropped to sixth, have now gone behind in each of their last eight games aside from the 0-0 draw at Oxford, which the 35-year-old admits is a worry.
“That is concerning,” he said. “We’ve got to look at that, we’ve got to maybe start games differently, whether it’s applying pressure in their half a bit more and getting the ball forward a bit quicker maybe.
“Listen, we had a great start to the season and we’ve lost a lot of players, we’ve got a lot of inexperienced lads coming into the team that are giving it everything, giving it their all, but it is hard sometimes when you come up against seasoned pros in this league that know the nitty-gritty side of it, and that’s what they showed today.
“If you look at their performance, they’ll look at that as a good away performance, solid, they didn’t make anything easy for us. They got their goals when they got them and in the second half they sat in and made it really difficult for us.
“And that’s the side of the game we need to get a bit more of. The lads are learning every day, it’s just about finding that belief that sometimes it’s going to be one of those games where you’re going to have to grind it out and at the minute we just don’t seem to be able to do that.
“And that’s something that we need to work on, as a squad, not as an XI, not as a staff, as a collective.
“The manager said it in there, we’re the only ones that can change it. We’ve got to find that ‘collective-ness’ in terms of being harder to beat because I think on the ball we’re as good as anyone in this league.
“It’s the other side that we need to work on and that’s something that can’t always be given to us by staff, we’ve got to find that ourselves, find that as a team, get back into our shape quicker, make it a lot more difficult. At the minute, it’s just not going for us in that sense.
“On a positive note, it’s still early in the season, there is time to change that. We know we can do it and that has to start Tuesday.
“We’ve got to draw a line under it and we’ve got reflect on our own performance, not just individually, as a team and really start a fresh season in terms of going again from Tuesday.”
Ward was disappointed that the 2,000 fans back at Portman Road for the first time since March weren’t able to celebrate a win.
“It was great to have them back,” he said. “It’s been tough for them and it’s a credit to them how much they’ve supported us in terms of being away from it, it’s not easy.
“It’s not easy for us because we want a passionate crowd here to make it difficult for away teams and I think that’s the most disappointing thing.
“We’ve put on some great performances early in the season at home and it’s disappointing that we couldn’t give them one today.
“But hopefully, we’ve got another game Tuesday, we’ve got to dust ourselves down. You can’t get too high in this game, you can’t get too low, you’ve got to react, you’ve to prove that you can react and you’ve got the stomach for it, and that’s what we need to do come Tuesday.”
Is it a case of going back to basics on Tuesday? “A bit of both really. I think we showed a lot of character last week [in coming from behind to beat Plymouth 2-1 at Home Park] that maybe wasn’t there [against Portsmouth].
“We’ve done a lot of good things this season, we’ve played some really attractive, good football, we’ve ground out results when we’ve had to, especially in the two games off the back of the two defeats, going away to Oxford and away to Plymouth.
“We showed that we have that side, but we need to find that formula to get it altogether and, listen, the basics is a part of football everyone needs and that’s something we need to work on and be a bit better at.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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