Lambert: Incredible to Be Two Points Off the Top
Tuesday, 15th Dec 2020 23:03
Blues boss Paul Lambert hailed his injury-ravaged squad being just two points off the top of the table as “incredible” following their 2-1 home victory over Burton Albion.
Emyr Huws netted an 80th minute winner against the Brewers to send the Blues up to fifth in the table, two points behind leaders Hull and level with Portsmouth, Peterborough and Lincoln in second, third and fourth, although with the three sides behind them all having at least two games in hand on them.
“To be two points off the top of the table considering the guys that we’ve got is incredible,” he said.
“It was important to get the three points, we have a team out, 10 lads out injured at the minute but we need them back as quick as we can. The guys are hanging in there which I think we have got to do at the minute.
“We got caught on the counter [for Burton’s equaliser] and after that they sat deep. I will take anything at the minute and I thought we deserved it on the amount of pressure we put on them but they are a hard team to break down.
“Considering what we have got here we have got a team out but sitting two points off the top, I’m really pleased.”
He added: “What’s happened here, it’s incredible, we’re two points off the top. It would be easy to think we were two points off the bottom. Two points off the top with the guys that we’ve got is incredible.
“Considering how the squad is, I’ve never known this in football, this number of people getting injured. I don’t know why it’s happening to us, but it’s happening, we’ve far too many out injured.
“The guys coming in have done great. Two points off the top, you’d think we were second bottom.”
Asked whether he was pleased with the reaction following the weekend 2-0 home defeat to Portsmouth, he added: “Yes, but as I said to you on Saturday, you could feel it when we had the chat [after the match].
“We fought and we started the game really well, we were on the front foot, they couldn’t get out apart from the odd counter-attack which you know is going to happen.
“But they sat and defended in their box, played really, really deep and again we tried to break through.
“Keanan scored a really good goal and then he wrong-footed the keeper with his later shot. If that’s on target, that’s in and it becomes a different game.
“We lost a poor goal with a counter-attack, I don’t think Mark [McGuinness] should have tried the diagonal from so deep, it was too far and we got caught.
“In the second half I thought we forced the issue, we forced it and forced it and forced it and I think got our just rewards.”
Opening goalscorer Bennetts was replaced at half-time with a groin problem and Lambert isn’t sure how significant that injury might be.
“I think it’s just his groin at the minute, I don’t know how bad it is, we’ll have to wait and see,” he said. “If that’s another one out, that’s another one out.
“If we can just keep hanging in there until all of them come back, then we’ll be a stronger squad.”
Lambert felt the winning goal could come with the way the game was progressing in the second half.
“Just the way was going,” he said. “The only thing we had to be really careful about was the counter-attack and the long ball and corners and set plays.
“Everything else, football-wise and getting on top of the ball and moving the ball, I was really pleased with.”
Quizzed on winning goalscorer Huws’s performance, he added: “I thought as the game went on, he was getting better and better. Emyr’s got to give more to us, I think he knows it himself, because he is a talent but he’s got to give more.
“Hopefully that little break there and that game [will benefit him], because I thought he did better as the game went on and on. He is a talent but hard work and effort and grit has got to become before the talent.”
When it was suggested that Huws would probably say he needs a run in the team, Lambert countered: “Well play well and you get in the team. It’s not rocket science that.
“Play well in the team. If you don’t play well in the team then when everybody’s fit then you find yourself out of it.
“You’ve got to play well in the team. It’s only the individual player who can do that for himself, you don’t look at the manager or the crowd, you look after your own corner.”
Regarding Kayden Jackson starting wide on the right, the Blues boss said: “We just threw it on him yesterday. He said he could play that role so we gave him a shot at it.
“I changed it to going through the middle with Oli Hawkins, two up and put Judgey wider. That seemed to work, but he did well on that right-hand side.”
Jackson limped off in the second half but the Town manager says it was nothing too significant: “I think he’s OK, I think it’s just a knock wuth him. But again we’ll have to see, hopefully he’s OK.”
After a run of three home defeats on the trot Lambert admitted his side needed to win tonight’s match.
“Yes, considering it was against the harder teams,” he reflected. “But again we’ve got a whole team out, guys that you’d probably think would start, a lot of them.
“So, big credit to them. Two points off the top with the squad that we’ve got at the minute is incredible.”
Lambert doubts if anyone will be fit enough to return for the trip to Peterborough: “No, we’ve probably lost one in Keanan. Freddie Sears just trained the other day so we’ll see how he is, but he’s been out for a few weeks so probably wouldn’t be ready to start.”
Reflecting further on the club’s injury problems, he said: “It’s mad, I’ve never known anything like this. It’s a mad situation, but all credit to them because two points off the top is absolutely brilliant for them.
“Hopefully whenever they come back it’s going to be a lot stronger but if we can keep hanging in here at the minute, they’ve done great with where they are with the amount of injuries and with the young guys playing.
“As I’ve said before, we’re the team in the division that’s had 26 per cent young players playing, everybody else has had two per cent. We’ve had to go down that road because we don’t have anything else.
“There’s a lot of good stuff here with the kids. The guys are giving everything and that’s all I can ask.”
“We are disappointed with the result as in the position we are in we are looking for points but overall the performance was good,” he told the Brewers official website.
“The lads were disappointed with the goals we conceded but we created opportunities, played some good football and the togetherness and attitude is correct.
“We conceded in the first passage of play for Ipswich, a long ball and we didn’t quite deal with it and it’s a classy finish. But there is no question about the character in the group and we responded well and scored a cracking goal ourselves after that.”
Regarding Town's winner, he added: “We talk about first contact and trying to stop crosses coming into your box especially when the opposition has a 6ft 4 [sic] centre forward [Oli Hawkins].
“We allowed a ball to come into the box, Sam Hughes did get first contact but we didn’t get the height and distance and then there was a little bit of a mix up, Kieran O’Hara makes a great save and we aren’t alive to the second ball.
“But overall in terms of the performance, what the lads are showing on a daily basis in training and going into the past five games I’m happy with that as we aren’t doing much wrong.
“I know the position we are in and the table doesn’t lie and we know we need points.”
Lucas Akins missed a big chance for the visitors in the closing minutes.
“Lucas is kicking himself and is a little bit down as he knows the position we are in and he has been at the club a long time,” Buxton continued.
“We had a lot of opportunities on Saturday to get three points. Tonight was a bit more against the run of play. It’s one of those things and we have to move onto the next game.
“We have a big game on Saturday [at home to Doncaster] and we are looking for three points.”
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