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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.”

Photo: TWTD

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VanDusen added 19:03 - Apr 2
Fair enough. We have to try and keep players buoyed up and we got the rub of the green a bit - maybe that can help them believe. Clear he's just realising the scale of the challenge and the persistent jinxes he's inherited like the perpetual injury crisis. But I believe this man already knows the problems and let's make sure he's backed to sort it in the summer.

TimmyH added 19:08 - Apr 2
Great Character = little quality, I wonder if we can show this character on the road where we've been even poorer?

Still amazing all these injuries we still pick up!...Norwood today and unaware that Bennetts and Kenlock had picked up knocks, the sooner Downes is back the better.

Suffolkboy added 19:08 - Apr 2
Solid teamwork, unified objectives , realistic assessments but wants us all to encourage ,be encouraged and move forward and on together in a positive way and common agreement about things good for ITFC !

boroughblue added 19:09 - Apr 2
I really believe this is the right man to take the club forward, he just needs the support of the whole club behind him. Always respect what he has to say, if we are going to make the play-offs this season I think he's very right in saying it won't be pretty.

Intrigued to know what the conversation with blue action consisted of though...

algarvefan added 19:09 - Apr 2
Can't argue with anything he has said, top bloke, we have what we have for the rest of the season, it's now all about results in the next 9 games, so lets get behind the lads, stop the moaning and do our best to get promoted. If we have to win ugly then so be it. COYB!!!!

SickParrot added 19:15 - Apr 2
In other words this is the weakest squad I've ever worked with, most of the players lack ability and are seldom up for a fight so all I can ask for is effort and hope we get a lucky win.

jas0999 added 19:19 - Apr 2
Glad that Cook knows that the squad isn’t good enough.

Dissboyitfc added 19:31 - Apr 2
2-0 up after 11 minutes against a poor side low on confidence on a poor run of form that says more about the lack of quality in the team than anything else!

We just aint good enough folks, PC has a massive job on his hands thats for sure!

We move on to Rochdale, where you can guarantee another struggle!

DifferentGravy added 19:32 - Apr 2
What I like is the fact that Cook is looking for solutios during the game......which is something Lambert simply didnt do. Ultimately if it doesnt work out these last 9 games then at least we tried.

Would be great to have Downes back as the anchor.


martin587 added 19:43 - Apr 2
Very honest assessment from a top man.I’m sure he will turn this club round but it takes time.We have to be patient and if we manage to get in the play-offs then great.I fully support everything he says and does.

Daleyitfc added 19:54 - Apr 2
Another deluded manager.

Drifter3012 added 19:59 - Apr 2
Cook is obviously trying his best with what he has got and to be honest I think all of us will be happy if we win the next 9 games ugly and the team show some character. We have all seen before that anything can happen come the play offs and if we get there who knows? 3 more ugly wins and we are in the Championship. COYB.

Phil1969 added 20:03 - Apr 2
I like Mr Cook but the reality is we are woefully short of getting through play offs or retaining a Championship place. Look at the three promoted last season they are three in bottom five and far superior to us. A summer transfer window isn’t going to do it. Sadly I think another league one season would be the best option to change develop and build. Hate to say it having seen my first game verses Coventry in 1969 !

atty added 20:44 - Apr 2
I’m not sure we have the players to play ugly and scrape wins. Dozzell, Bishop, Edwards, Judge,
Jackson, Bennetts, Farrop are not exactly warriors are they?

surgery added 21:08 - Apr 2
That’s all they showed mind you, they didn’t show any talent did they

barrystedmunds added 21:10 - Apr 2
There’s certainly someone deluded Daleyitfc, not sure it’s Mr Cook thou🤔🤔🤔

muhrensleftfoot added 21:32 - Apr 2
I think finally the penny has dropped with most of us supporters. We have a big squad but not enough quality All that talk about best squad is absolute rubbish. It'll take one or two transfer windows for PC to clear out the crop and get some real characters in. We'll have to try and be patient

ntoms97 added 21:38 - Apr 2
Interesting that Lambert only played 1 up top and had 5 windows to get players to suit that system. Cook comes in and has to play a formation he never plays because the side has not got the players to play one up top. Lambert was stealing a living!

ArnieM added 22:57 - Apr 2
This Town team could play against the cardboard cut outs and still struggle to put in a decent performance. I’ve never in all my years of following this Club seen such a lacklustre squad .

eddiespearitt03 added 00:21 - Apr 3
As Mick Mills said..." The amount of players we are using is ridiculous" The team is constantly being changed. It seems like , ok, its your turn now.

MarinersMane added 00:28 - Apr 3
DifferentGravy agree that we really miss Downes, need him back asap to provide some aggression and back bone. Alongside Bishop (with his ability to go past opponents with ease) it’s the best midfield pairing we can have to see us through!

OwainG1992 added 00:33 - Apr 3
Fair comments by Cook and Barton for me.

Dissboyitfc added 07:05 - Apr 3
Phil1969... marked you down because i dont agree Wickham are superior to us! they will slip out of championship and go straight through league 1 into league 2. whilst we are an average league 1 side i believe Wickham are league 2 standard!

I also think 10 games into the new season we will be seeing a vast improvement!

tractorboybig added 07:57 - Apr 3
nothing has changed and nothing will...evans remains....see the light

keighleyblue added 08:25 - Apr 3
Who's Wickham?

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