|Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Bristol Rovers|
SkyBet League One
Friday, 2nd April 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Cook: They Showed Great Character Today
Friday, 2nd Apr 2021 18:56
Town boss Paul Cook felt the Blues showed great character as they beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 at Portman Road and admitted it was a win which was very much needed, as much by him as anyone else.
A Luke Leahy own goal and Alan Judge’s fourth of the season saw Town into a 2-0 lead within 11 minutes but the visitors hit back via Luke McCormick and Rovers will have believed they did enough to claim a point.
“Very workman-like, very honest,” Cook said when asked what he made of the display. “Traits that over the first couple of weeks I’ve been in the club I’ve probably wanted more than we could do, If I’m being truthful.
“They showed great character today and sometimes when you’re on the road and you lose a couple of games like we have, people ask really tough questions of the players.
“Playing at this club over a period of time, when you are a big club like we are, people can continually talk about it without backing it up. Our lads have had to carry that a little bit and sometimes it’s probably been a bit heavy for some.
“But today and on the run-in now, it’s just about trying to win games. If we can keep nicking a few results and working hard and get a bit of rub of the green, who knows where it might take us.”
Asked whether he was concerned when the scoreline went to 2-1, he said: “Not really, because when you watch us, the majority of games will be on the knife edge. The majority of the games will be settled by a goal either way, and that’s how it panned out.
“As a manager, you sit there and you’re always saying to yourself ‘what have I learnt after the game?’. But I haven’t learnt a great deal that I didn’t know about our players other than that when we have to show character we can.
“But we have to be built in a solid way to do that. Rather than being expansive sometimes, we’ve got to sacrifice that for a bit more solidity and when we do that, we see games out.”
Regarding Andre Dozzell’s error which led to the Pirates’ goal, he said: “Listen, you’ve got to be brave to play. Andre Dozzell’s a smashing young player, he’s going to be a very good player.
“In his career he’ll make more mistakes like that, it’s about learning from it. I thought after the mistake, I thought he stayed with the game really well.”
Cook switched from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2 because he feels he hasn’t got the players for his preferred system to work.
“I’ve been managing a long time now, I like a certain style of play but to have a style of play you have to have the personnel to do it. It was quite simple, we did not have the personnel to play that way,” he reflected.
“That’s a challenge for me going forward. I’ve got to give the players the help from the sidelines and the stands so that they can go and win games, and today I felt we helped them with the formation.
“Not that I’m taking any credit for that, I might add, it’s down to the players. We only put 11 out there, the lads have to go and do the job.”
He added: “When you do certain things in a game, certain formations, the reality is you give up possession and we’ve given up possession in the hope of getting more goals and winning the game.
“We’ve had a little bit of luck along the way with the decision, but the lads worked ever so hard today and sometimes if you get that bit of luck, that rub of the green.”
Cook confirmed that striker James Norwood picked up a knock in the first half which was why he was replaced by Aaron Drinan at half-time.
“Yes, his thigh. Again we’re just picking up injury after injury after injury,” he continued. “I’ve never been involved in a club which has so many injuries, if I’m being truthful. But it’s the hand you’re dealt, just keep going and keep believing in what you’re doing.
“He wanted to carry on, but from my experience with injuries, once they start feeling them, get them off and save them for a rainy day.”
Bristol Rovers and manager Joey Barton felt Town keeper Tomas Holy should have been red-carded for colliding with Jonah Ayunga in the first half and then Drinan might also have been dismissed after aerial tussles with Jack Baldwin in the second half.
“Aaron’s not a red card, in my opinion.” Cook insisted. “Aaron’s just been dead honest. With the greatest of respect, that wasn’t.
“But I think Joey’s got a genuine good argument with the first one. It’s hard for Joey at the minute because he’s had a few which has gone against him.
“In my opinion it is a possible red. But over a period of time [these things even themselves out]. I get where Joey is because you feel like everyone’s against you.
“If Bristol Rovers keep playing like that, I thought they were excellent at times. They controlled the game for long periods, probably without really looking like scoring, but we didn’t look like scoring either. We’re delighted, I know Joey will be disappointed but he’ll respond in the right way.”
Asked whether Town needed that win, Cook laughed: “I did, forget the players, I did! I’ve got Lee O’Neill telling me every day it’s one in six I’ve won.
“I think as people know, it’s going to be a job here, it’s going to be a tough job and I think over a period of time I think our supporters will want to see the changes that are right.
“I’m not coming on threatening people or trying to promise people what will happen. All I can promise our supporters is that we’ll leave no stone unturned in trying to make our club successful.”
He added: “It’s painful watching us as a manager, I don’t know what it’s like for fans or reporters, because we don’t do anything easily. The games are all marginal, they’re all the odd goal.
“We started again well at home, the two goals should have seen us go on to win the game, you’d expect us to win the game.
“But great credit to them, winning in football today is more important than anything because of how football is, so we probably needed that win, I needed the win, the fans needed it, the players did and we’ve got it. We’re all delighted, nine games to go, there’s so much still to play for.”
The Blues are at Rochdale on Monday and Cook says he could have one or two players back after injury.
“We’re doing alright,” he said. “Benno [Keanan Bennetts] and [Oli] Hawkins have played 45 minutes [in a friendly] at Norwich, Flynn Downes and Myles Kenlock are on the grass. A little bit of bad news [with Norwood], but fingers crossed, we might have some good as well.
“Flynn, I wouldn’t say the next few weeks, I’d say sooner than that. But I won’t rush people back. In these nine games, I’ve always said, there’s a number of points we need and it’s well within our capabilities to get it. We don’t have to get it in one game.
“Last week we felt the disappointment of when we haven’t won a game away where you think you can’t make the play-offs. Tonight we’ll feel a little bit more elated, the league table will look a little bit better. We’ll just keep fighting and fighting and fighting.”
Asked about his conversation with Blue Action prior to the game after they had draped a banner from a building opposite the main entrance to the ground calling for owner Marcus Evans to “Reform or sell”, he said: “That should remain private, if it can. I get fans’ frustrations, I’m a fan, I’m a real football fan, I understand everyone’s frustration.
“Sometimes we’ve got to come together as a football club now because if we’re going to be successful we need each other, we don’t need splits in the camp.”
Rovers boss Barton felt the afternoon summed up his club’s campaign as a whole.
“That’s the story of the season isn’t it?” Barton told Bristol Live. “Individual moments of madness and errors have cost us.
“Thirty-nine games in you think you’ve seen everything in the game. I certainly haven’t seen a team play like they did in the first 10 minutes, it was like they were starring in Fawlty Towers. It was shocking and absolutely nowhere near good enough.
“Credit to them, they’ve found themselves in a ridiculous position after 11 minutes and then they’d decided to fight. I’m proud of the further 70-80 minutes because they kept going and going but you can’t give goals away at any level, never mind two in the first 10 minutes.”
Regarding his side’s claim that Holy should have been red-carded in the first half, Barton added: “I don’t really want to use that as an excuse, again we were our own worst enemy.
“We’ve given away two goals in the opening gambit of the game, you’ve got to take the referee and decisions out of it.
“That probably would’ve shifted the game. At 2-1 we’re probably in the ascendency and their keeper should leave the field if we’re being honest.
“He’s come outside of the box and our player has touched it past him, the linesman on my side is saying he doesn’t think it was a goalscoring opportunity.
“I’ve asked the ref at half-time and full-time and he says he doesn’t think he was in control of the ball.
“Well of course it wasn’t, because he’s got Toni Schumacher-ed by Tomas Holy. He was taken out so he’s touched the ball and it would’ve stayed in play for a shooting opportunity.
“What can you do? If I say what I really think then I’ll be suspended and the FA will fine me, so you can’t even tell the truth because they’ve become such an unaccountable organisation. It’s ruining games and it’s cost us multiple times since I’ve been here in my first 11 games.”
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