|Lincoln City 0 v 1 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 18th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Cook: Delighted, Now Let's Make Sure We Follow It Up
Saturday, 18th Sep 2021 18:56
Boss Paul Cook was delighted with the Blues’ 1-0 win at Lincoln and that fans were sent home happy and wants to build on that next week when the Blues host Sheffield Wednesday.
Town, who were without a victory this season, were seen to their first three-point haul by Macauley Bonne’s first-half header from Hayden Coulson’s cross.
“I’m delighted, if a game could have took a pattern for us, I don’t think I could have picked a better pattern,” Cook said.
“To get a clean sheet and a win away from home at a place where probably most people would think we’d get beat today after conceding five goals last week when we looked soft and we played soft.
“We didn’t look anything like that today, for sure. That just shows you what work on the training ground, match analysis, repetition and belief for the players can do.
“Lincoln are a top team, Michael [Appleton] is a really good coach, he has them set up in a way that they test you, they challenge you and we stood up to the test all day today.
“And I’m so proud of the players, really pleased for the supporters to travel home tonight having got that elusive win that will give us a platform, like I said.
“We’ve played seven league games. Seven. We’ve got 39 to go and if we can play like we did in the first half for longer, the reality is we’ll be OK.”
He added: “I’ve just had a tough couple of weeks with my dad [who died last week], and I don’t want to go into that, but I’ll go back home tonight, I’m really pleased now to be going home tonight to see my family.
“I’m just pleased for everyone, you saw Mark Ashton and Michael O’Leary at the end of the game, all our staff. It means so much to us all.
“And I think sometimes supporters have got to be careful, not when you criticise, you pay your money and you’re entitled to do that. But we brought in 20 new players.
“If you look at the performance last week and compare it to this week’s performance you can see what work on the training ground does.
“And that’s what we need and that’s what the players will get - more hard work and plenty more of it.
“We just want to make those supporters proud, they’ve left this ground tonight so happy and we’ve got to make sure we follow that up next week against Sheffield Wednesday.”
Town showed their quality in the first half and then repelled everything Lincoln threw at them in the second.
“The new word in football is transition and we’re hopeless at it,” Cook admitted. “Today we didn’t get involve in transition, we were built off a solid base today.
“Going forward, we want to be more expansive than we were today but solidity can see you home at times and it did today.”
The clean sheet was Town’s first of the season having conceded at least twice in every game so far, barring the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Newport.
“I’m just pleased, you follow Ipswich the same as every supporter, it means a lot to you guys,” Cook continued.
“We’ve had ups and downs, we’ve had a great win today. It doesn’t change me, you spoke to me, I’m not a person who feels pressure. I feel pressure to get the players to perform like that.
“When you get your players to perform like that and they do that consistently, we’ll be fine.”
Cook felt the Blues might have grabbed a second after the break: “We’ve had a couple of chances in the second half, we knew we would because we have quality, but defensively and the goalkeeper Vaz [Vaclav Hladky] coming in, who has had a little tough start, he was magnificent today.
“Christian got injured yesterday, which is just us at the minute. Hayden Coulson goes off, which is just us, and you keep going.
“You can’t show signs of weakness in this game, as a manager, as a coach. I listen to it all whatever people want to say and I just love hard-working players and I love it when we get to a point where we trust our players.
“I think if you look at Rekeem Harper today playing higher up the pitch, we’ve probably been playing him in the wrong position for a few games, haven’t we?
“These are the things we’re still learning as a team. All we want our fans to know is that we will work so hard for them and we did today.”
Harper replaced tiring debutant Bersant Celina in the number 10 role. Is that the former West Brom man’s best role? “Again, I don’t know. He can play centre-half if we win, it doesn’t bother me, but we’re learning.
“Scotty Fraser put an amazing shift in on that side, Wes Burns as well. We should be away from home taking three of our front four off to keep the fight up at the top end of the pitch. That’s how we want to be as a team.
“If you look at our subs at the minute they’re always full-backs and other players. We’ve got to get to that point going forward where we keep that fight at the top, that’s where we want to fight on the pitch.”
Regarding Christian Walton’s injury, Cook added: “He just went over on his adductor, which was tough. Vaz came in today, Vaz has only had a rest, only came out of the team like Matt Penney, these lads will get opportunities again.
“We’re a good club in the league, we’ve got a strong squad and when people come into the team, you take your opportunity and you’ll stay in it. And Vaz has certainly take his opportunity today.”
Cook had praise for Janoi Donacien, who kept Anthony Scully, one of the Imps’ top performers so far this season, quiet: “Unbelievable today. He had a job to do today and he did it with aplomb, absolutely brilliant. He’s a fantastic professional, a great lad.
“And the harmony in the dressing room has been first class, albeit at times quiet. They’re new, they’re young lads, they’re learning. I’ve just left the dressing room absolutely bouncing, and it’s great to see.”
Cook added: “I’m a loyal manager, I don’t like leaving players out but at the minute we’re tweaking our team weekly now to see what’s the best, who fits best into the slots.
“We’ve got a platform of how we want to play and within that you’ve got to mention players when they come in and do well, we expect them to do well.
“These are good players, my job and that of the rest of the coaching staff is to fit them into our systems that make us become a force in the division.”
Asked whether it was a tough call to start Celina, Cook said: “I’m not a manager who will hide, we conceded five goals at Portman Road last week and could have conceded seven.
“You couldn’t have picked a harder away ground to go to today to be tested. Our lads have worked on the training ground, they’ve worked on everything that’s good about the game, distances, solidity, trust in your team-mates, knowing where your team-mates are on the pitch.
“And today they knew where one another were on the pitch and they backed each other up 100 per cent.
“If we can be built off a solid platform, you and I know we’ve got goals in the team. We’ve 100 per cent got goals in that team. Have we got clean sheets? Well, we’ve proved we can today at probably one of the toughest grounds in the division. That’s only a small platform to move forward.”
He added: “Bersant is a very good player, I think we all know that. Obviously fitness-wise and getting up to speed-wise [he’s still got work to do], and when Cameron Burgess had to go left-back we had a problem on that side of the pitch because Cameron isn’t going to join in in the game, he’s going to stay at home, which will invite pressure.
“We probably we took Bersant off 10 minutes before I would have liked, but we had to plug that gap on that side.”
He added: “Delighted with everyone, I really am. You know, we’ve looked at all our players in the first five or six games and gone ‘Hmmm’.
“We looked at them today and we’ll be writing positive comments about them, we’ll be speaking well about the team, the work ethic, the quality and we want more that, that’s all we’re asking.”
Lincoln manager Appleton felt there was a push on the Town goal and made his unhappiness known to the referee at half-time and was booked as a result.
“I’ve been unhappy for six weeks tell Michael!” Cook joked. “I’ve been unhappy for six weeks.
“Again, Macauley Bonne’s just an outstanding striker, isn’t he? To be an Ipswich lad and producing what he is, I think he always deserves a special mention. More of it please, Macauley, more of it from everyone at the club and let’s keep sending our supporters home like we have tonight.”
Would 1-0 have been the scoreline he’d have picked from today’s game? “I would have liked 2-0, to be honest with you, just to settle my nerves. I’m just pleased for everyone. Football’s tough and in my managerial career I’ve probably had a lot more ups than downs. Latterly there have probably been the most downs I’ve had consistently in my time.
“I’ve got no credits at the club with our supporters. At Wigan when we had bad runs I had credits, and with our fans today I think we’ve just made a tiny step to see a team what Paul Cook likes to put out is about.
“We had desire in us today, we desperately wanted to win and we’ve got to show that every week.”
Imps boss Appleton felt Bonne clearly fouled TJ Eyoma as he scored the decisive goal.
“It takes a lot for me to get angry but when people don’t do their jobs, I’m going to get angry,” he told Lincolnshire Live.
“There wasn’t one single person in this stadium who didn’t think it was a foul.
“It was a clear foul, it was there for everybody to see. It was one those surreal moments where you’re thinking ‘has that actually just happened?’.
“It’s not just one hand, it’s two hands. It’s hard to take because decisions like that in big games can become costly.”
Regarding his half-time chat with referee Ben Speedie, which led to his booking, he said: “He wouldn’t allow me to speak to him. So that's why I lost my rag a little bit. I actually don’t know [why the goal wasn’t disallowed], he wouldn't let me have my say on it.”
The Lincoln manager also felt Regan Poole's second-half header, chalked off after the linesman raised his flag, should have stood.
“What’s even harder to swallow was that we scored a perfectly good goal,” Appleton insisted He was well onside.”
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