McKenna: We Could Very Easily be Sitting Here Off the Back of Two Wins, We Should Be
Saturday, 26th Feb 2022 18:26
Town boss Kieran McKenna admitted it’s been a frustrating week with the Blues recording back to back draws - 0-0 at home to Cheltenham on Tuesday and 1-1 at Morecambe today - and that it was incredible that his side had scored only once over the course of the two matches.
Wes Burns’s 86th minute leveller rescued a point at the Mazuma Stadium, despite Town having dominated virtually from start to finish.
“Extremely frustrating result,” he said. “I thought it was an extremely good performance on 90 per cent of the pitch. We did so many things well but not in the last few yards close to their goal.
“A frustrating week, incredible really to have scored one goal over the two games that we’ve had, across the two performances, Tuesday-Saturday, the amount of things that we’ve done well.
“On the one hand we can be proud of the development of the team in so many areas but on the other hand, the position we’re in, I said it after Tuesday, we can’t afford draws, we want wins and to get that we need to score more goals.
“I thought in terms of our process, we created bundles of opportunities, were excellent in all out attacking play but we didn’t take enough chances.”
Asked what the problem is in front of goal, McKenna said: “I think we’ll keep looking at that. It’s something we’ll keep looking at. We don’t make any rash decisions on it, we’re constantly reflecting. I don’t think it’s ever one thing in football, it’s a complex game.
“There were probably a few games early in my tenure when I thought our penetration wasn’t good enough, the players were adapting to our style of play, but I don’t think that’s been the case lately, we’re playing to a really, really high level.
“I don’t think there are many, if any, other teams in this league or maybe even the league above who could perform better than that on that pitch, the way we performed today, especially in the first half with the quality of our play. I don’t think there are many teams around who could do better.
“But it’s probably happened too many times that we haven’t turned that into goals. It’s something we’ll keep looking at and keep working on, something we need to improve.”
McKenna admits it’s particularly frustrating as there are so many players in the squad capable of finding the net.
“They’ve proven, all the forwards, over the course of their careers that they can score goals,” he continued.
“People have spells, individually have spells, teams have spells, this is just our spell. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for us over the course of my time here, I’m as confident as I can be really that we’re going to score a lot of goals over the course of it.
“If we keep developing and improving as we are, I don’t think we’re far away from scoring four or five in a game, I really don’t.
“But I think it’s a spell that we’re going through at the moment. It’s a little bit unusual but it can happen to better teams than us and it’s our little spell this week and in a couple of games previously.
“But I’m sure we have the quality in the building to score more goals and I know as a team we’ll keep improving our collective attacking to create more opportunities.”
Having got back on terms, the Blues almost won it with Janoi Donacien seeing a late chested opportunity blocked by home keeper Trevor Carson, who made numerous stops in a man-of-the-match display.
“That probably summed it up, we had our right centre-back in the box, flushed on to a cross, I haven’t seen it back, but maybe five or six yards out and he meets it full and it hits the goalkeeper,” the Blues boss reflected.
“If it goes in, we’re saying ‘Two goals, fantastic performance, proud of the players and a great result’.
“Today, it’s hit the goalkeeper, or it’s a great save, I’ve not seen it close enough to see, maybe I’m not giving the goalkeeper enough credit, it might have been a great reaction save.
“I thought that probably summed up our intent, we kept attacking to the end, great spirit, conceded the goal, kept going, got a goal back and then kept going and kept pushing for the winner.
“In terms of so many things I can’t ask too much more, the players are equally as frustrated as the staff and I’m sure the supporters are but it’s not for a lack of will, not for a lack of effort and I’m sure that we’ll get there.”
Burns took his tally for the season to 10, an impressive total for a player who has featured either as a winger or a wing-back since joining the club in the summer.
“Good finish again, credit to him, got in the box,” McKenna added. “It was one of those situations that we have bundles of in the game, balls popping around in the six-yard box, good play to get there but eventually they’ve got so many bodies in front of goal that it’s not always going to be clean, you’re not always going to be able to convert the first touch on the cross.
“You have to just find a way to get that inch and get your shot off and he did that low and across the goalkeeper. A great finish, good for him, good for us to get the goal back.
“A draw’s disappointing but a defeat I think would have been entirely unjust, so at the end of the day it’s a draw, not as much as what we wanted but it’s something to take home.”
Asked how the striker was feeling after the match, McKenna said: “He’s the same as everybody in the dressing room, he’s disappointed but it’s not an individual thing. We defend as a team and we attack as a team.
“Obviously it’s great when the strikers can chip in with goals but it’s a collective thing. Obviously he was on the end of a couple of good chances today, you have to be there to miss them and he’s was on the end of some good chances and that’s more than half the battle usually for someone who is a good finisher.
“He’s passionate about the club, passionate about the team and I’m sure he’ll keep chipping and working away in training and he’ll keep doing his best for the team.”
McKenna says he’s a firm believer that good performances will lead to results: “I think so, it’s not a day to think about the medium term or the longer term development of the team because it’s a day where the disappointment of not getting a win is the overriding emotion.
“I think over the course of a couple of months, the development of the team is fantastic. Bearing in mind the condition of the pitch today, some of our football was outstanding. Performances over time breed results.
“We’ve had a higher expected goals in every game apart from the Sheffield Wednesday game and one other, I forget which.
“We’ve had a higher expected goals in almost every game that we’ve played and over the course of time, if you keep having better chances than the opposition, then you’re going to score goals than them more often and you’re going to win more games than them.
“We’ll keep trying to develop performances, keep trying to develop individuals in their game and I think some of the players are really coming on, keep trying to develop the team and if we keep going in this direction then the team, the individuals and the club are moving in the right direction for a positive future.”
Town remain ninth now back to five points from the play-offs and McKenna admits another draw is a blow, if not a terminal one.
“In terms of points it is,” he said. “We could very, very, very easily be sitting here off the back of two wins, we should be, but we’re not.
“We’re a long way behind, this is probably the week where some people from the outside, other teams or whoever may look at it and think it’s too much for us to do.
“But I think within the group that’s not the mindset, I think straight away our mindset will flick to Fleetwood and trying to put in a performance like we did today, but just do that extra little bit to get the result.”
New Morecambe manager Derek Adams was pleased with the point even if it looked like the Shrimps were going to claim all three.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game to start with,” he told the
“Ipswich Town, with the run they are on, we were able to get that first goal with a great ball from Adam Phillips to Wildig.
“It looked like we were going to go on and win but Ipswich had some really good opportunities and Trevor Carson has made some excellent saves. Just to get a point today, we have to be happy with that.”
Adams was reappointed on Thursday, having departed for Bradford last June before being sacked earlier in the month, and said he had had little time to work with the squad.
“We did a wee bit yesterday but, at half-time, I changed things,” he added. “We played 3-5-2 the other night but I felt the players we changed at half-time [to 4-1-4-1] helped us in the second half. We were better, more resolute and looked a wee bit of a danger on the counter-attack.”
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