|Gillingham 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Papa John's Trophy
Tuesday, 5th October 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Chaplin: We Need to Get a Winning Culture
Wednesday, 6th Oct 2021 11:14
Goalscorer Conor Chaplin says Town now must back up last night’s 2-0 Papa John’s Trophy victory at Gillingham with a win against Shrewsbury in League One at Portman Road on Saturday.
The 24-year-old netted the Blues’ second goal in the 72nd minute as they comfortably beat the Gills to claim top spot in their group, Joe Pigott having given Town the lead two minutes prior to half-time.
“It was enjoyable, really enjoyable,” Chaplin said. “We worked really hard as a team and when you’ve got as good players as we have on the pitch, if you work hard at these places, you should win the game.
“That’s how it should work, but you’ve got to earn the right with your work-rate and your endeavour to win the ball back to create chances and I thought we did that brilliantly.”
The forward, who joined the Blues from Barnsley in the summer, felt it was important for the club to bounce back with a win following the hugely disappointing 2-1 defeat at Accrington on Saturday.
“I think it was vital,” he reflected. “I think we need to start getting a winning culture in the club and that comes from whatever game it is.
‘Whether it’s in training or in the Papa John’s Trophy like it was tonight or in the league, you need to get a winning culture in the football club, it breeds confidence, it breeds success.
“If you’ve got players that aren’t in the [League One] team at the moment that are churning out performances like that, it’s only encouraging for the manager.”
He added: “I wouldn’t like to have the gaffer’s job, it’s a tough job. There are a lot of good players at this football club, I think you can see with 11 changes tonight.
“The quality that we’ve got on the pitch is frightening for this level. As I said previously, it’s probably the best squad I’ve been involved in in terms of ability and quality and I stand by that because there are some really good football players at this club.”
Did he expect a flag to be raised as he ran through to score his goal? “I didn’t, I honestly knew that I was onside but it was one of those that sometimes the lino gives it because it looks that far offside. It’s one of those where the ball’s come at exactly the same time that I’ve run on the shoulder.
“I saw the lad, it was the young lad at the back for them [Jack Tucker] that was keeping me onside. Fair play to the linesman because sometimes it looks that far offside that they just give it. Fair play.”
He says it was a chance he would back himself to take, despite having plenty of time to think about bagging his second goal for the club.
“I expect myself to score that,” he said. “It’s a one-v-one, if I hadn’t have scored that I would have been raging with myself.
“It’s one that I expect to score but it was a great ball from Pigs [Pigott] as well, someone I knew could see that pass and play that pass, which was why I ducked in behind. It was nice to see it hit the back of the net, definitely.”
He says not many big number nines would have been able to make that pass: “That’s the quality he’s got. There’s a lot of that throughout the team. The quality in terms of this squad, it’s a big squad and there’s a lot of quality.”
Chaplin, who previously played for manager Paul Cook at Portsmouth, likes playing behind the main striker as he did at the Priestfield Stadium: “That’s probably one I enjoy the most but I honestly don’t mind where I play across that front four.
“Whether it’s wide, up front or in behind the striker, I’ll work hard for the team, I’ll try and create chances, be clever, pick up pockets, play on shoulders, whatever it may be, do the job that I need to do for the team. I’m more than happy to do it.”
With Bersant Celina away with Kosovo at the weekend, Chaplin is hoping to get the nod to start against the Shrews.
“Of course. I’ve come here to get this club promoted, nothing else,” he continued. “I expect to be starting games, I expect to play, but whatever happens in terms of the squad, I know that we’ve got such quality, so whatever happens, whatever team the gaffer picks everyone’s in the same direction, there’s only one goal at the moment.”
Chaplin believes he’s starting to get to the top of his game after a frustrating start to his time at Town having suffered with Covid over the summer before picking up a hamstring problem in August having made his first appearance for the Blues.
“Yes, I haven’t played 90 minutes once this season pre-season or in the season proper,” he said. “Not once because of Covid and then injury, so it was massive for me tonight in terms of legs.
“I just tried to work as hard as I could and the time you get and the feeling you get from 90 minutes, 85 minutes, whatever it was tonight, is massive.
“And I felt really good as well, really good. In recovery runs and things like that, I was trying to put in an extra yard just to make sure I was really trying to top up the fuel sort of thing, top the level up. I felt really good today.”
Does he feel his season has finally got up and running in the last 10 days having scored his first goal for the club late in the 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday? “You could say that, I didn’t come off the bench at the weekend, so possibly not! Yes, I feel good, I feel really good, I feel in a good place definitely.”
Last night’s Town side featured youngsters such as Idris El Mizouni, again impressive in midfield, and Luke Woolfenden, who secured a clean sheet alongside stand-in skipper Toto Nsiala at the centre of the defence, while Zanda Siziba came off the bench to replace Chaplin in the 85th minute and Albie Armin, Cameron Humphreys and recent signing Tete Yengi were also among the subs.
Chaplin says there’s some real talent coming through from the academy: “It’s really good, really good. I haven’t seen too much of the U23s at this club but the lads that have trained with us from the U23s have been brilliant.
“Their attitude to training has been really good, which is something as a young lad is massive.
“I always try and say that to them in terms of trying to help them when they’re training, regarding the work-rate.
“You need to be an example in games like this when they’re watching on the bench and show them how much hard work you have to put in in a 90-minute game.
“They’re really good players, really good quality as well and that’s something that’s exciting for the football club.”
Town are still to record back-to-back victories this season - and under Cook’s management - and Chaplin is in no doubt that the Blues need to change that when they face the Shrews on Saturday, then go into the match at Cambridge the following weekend off the back of two wins on the bounce.
“Exactly that,” he said. “I couldn’t have said it any better myself.”
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