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McKenna: If There’s VAR, It’s Probably a Goal
Saturday, 12th Mar 2022 18:52

Town boss Kieran McKenna felt Macauley Bonne’s late disallowed goal would have counted if League One used VAR following the Blues’ 0-0 home draw with Portsmouth.

Bonne’s 88th minute close-range effort was ruled out for offside against Luke Woolfenden, however, the defender appeared not to get a touch on the ball with Cameron Burgess ahead of him the man who reached Bersant Celina’s free-kick and under the laws wasn't interfering with play.

“I thought it was a game we deserved to win, I thought we were the better team especially in the second half,” McKenna said.

“I thought the first half was more even but I still thought we were better. Obviously difficult circumstances with us having to make two subs in the first half, two very important players for us [skipper Sam Morsy and striker Kayden Jackson], who give us a lot of our our penetration in different ways.

“That obviously made the circumstances very challenging on top of the other issues we’ve had this week.

“Prior to the efforts of the players, I thought we regrouped really well at half-time and in the second half put in a really good performance.

“We dominated most, if not all, aspects of the game and just didn’t find that extra little margin to score that goal.

“Obviously close once or twice, close with the offside goal which on another day I think could easily have been given because Luke, who was flagged for the offside, didn’t touch the ball.

“Little margins like that didn’t go our way. We could possibly have created more chances in the game but I thought there were a lot more positive aspects to how we went about our business than negatives.”

If Woolfenden didn’t touch the ball, then McKenna says Town shouldn’t have been penalised with both Burgess and Bonne both onside.

“That’s my understanding of it. But I think if there’s VAR, it’s probably a goal would be my understanding,” he said.

“I can understand why the linesman put his flag up because Luke was offside when the cross was taken and he did move towards the ball.

“On the other hand, I don’t know if the referee got a spot on who got a touch on the ball but from what the players have said downstairs, they’re adamant that Luke didn’t touch it, it was all Cam who got the ball and normally then by the laws of the game, especially because Luke was behind Cam and wasn’t in the keeper’s eye-line or anything like that, it should be a goal.

“Again that’s just the margins at the moment, if that goes in then we’re saying ‘Really good performance, credit for the players for how they dug in’ and I don’t think we’ve scored many if any from set plays, which is something which we need to keep working on.

“The delivery was good today, it could have very easily have been a very important winner from a set piece.

“I can understand the linesman putting his flag up and unfortunately they weren’t able to look at the situation because if they would have then it would have been a goal.”

In the first half Janoi Donacien was adamant the Blues should have been awarded a penalty when he was pulled back as he sought to get onto a corner from the left, but McKenna believes Bonne had a better shout in the second.

“I can’t be sure on that one, I didn’t get a good view on that one,” he said. “I thought there was one in the second half with Macauley where from our line he had his shirt up over his head so he was obviously being pulled and grappled.

“But it is what it is, they’re a physical team. They mark very tightly from set plays, sometimes it goes over the edge of marking at times but that is what it is, the referee makes the decisions and we focus on ourselves.”

Captain Morsy was forced off in the 21st minute with a recurrence of the hamstring injury he suffered in the 2-0 home win against Lincoln on Tuesday.

Asked whether it was a gamble to start the Egypt international, McKenna said: “We didn’t think it was a big gamble, to be honest. He trained fully yesterday, he’s not had a tear thankfully or anything like that. He trained fully yesterday and felt good and was confident and positive going into the game.

“That one was a bit of a surprise. The first time he went for a hard run in the game, he said he felt it tighten up a little bit.

“Thankfully, hopefully there’s no big injury, it’s something we need to get looked at again this week to make sure that he’s right. We’ll have to review that one during the week.”

Tom Carroll replaced Morsy and McKenna says the ex-Spurs man was involved despite having been unwell this week.

“Credit it to him. People wouldn’t know but Tom has been in his sickbed for 48 hours, hasn’t been at the training ground in the last couple of days, has been very poorly, hasn’t trained at all with the group, wasn’t involved in any of the preparation,” he said.

“But he put his hand up because we’re light in that area with Lee Evans out and Idris [El Mizouni] has had a knock in training over the last week or so as well so he’s not been training as well.

“So we have been light in midfield and Tom put his hand up and said he felt a bit better on Saturday morning and if I’m needed for the squad I can come and be on the bench.

“We had him there hoping he wouldn’t be needed but he needed to come into the game early on.

“Credit to him, not easy to get the rhythm of the game but once he did in the second half, he performed really well and I thought that probably typified the spirit and the effort in the group today.”

Regarding Jackson’s injury, he added: “Hamstring, not great. Obviously, he’s been a really big player for us in the last few weeks, gives us a lot of penetration.

“You can see in the incident that built up to the injury, it’s crystal clear what he gives to the team and he’s just felt his hamstring just before he’s hit the shot.

“I don’t think it’s a very, very minor one so we’ll just have to look at it and probably get a scan and see how the damage is.”

McKenna was delighted with Burgess’s performance, the Australia U23 international having come into the side for the injured George Edmundson.

“Excellent, exactly what I hoped from what I’ve spoken about how he’s trained and how he’s been,” he said.

“A super-professional, he’s been super-focused in his focus over the last couple of months and I thought he put in the performance that his professionalism has deserved and I thought he was really solid and contributed with the ball. Credit to him and a good example for the rest of the squad.”

Reflecting on the result which sees the Blues stay ninth but now five points off the play-offs with eight left to play.

“Better to draw than lose,” he continued. “That’s three draws and I don’t think it’s an opinion, I think it’s by fact that we’ve been the better team in all three draws that we’ve had, we’ve had much more chances and shots and every indicator you could look at in the games that we’ve drawn we’ve been the better team.

“Disappointed that we’ve drawn it, but more importantly it keeps the consistency of application, consistency of a lot of the good aspects of our performance and we just have to keep plugging away.

“We’ve got to recover bodies, it’s taken its toll this week, some of the efforts that the players have really, really dug in and hit new levels over the last couple of months in terms of what they’ve been given.

“That’s probably taken its toll a little bit this week and now we just need to recover well, have a good week at the training ground, rest well, train well and get ready or Oxford.”

Finding the net was again Town’s biggest problem and McKenna says in some games chances have been hard to come by but in others there have been enough opportunities to win comfortably.

“It’s been a different story in different games,” he continued. “There have been a couple of games where we didn’t create too much and we’ve had games like Morecambe where we could barely have created more in the game.

“Today was probably somewhere in the middle. I thought we had a threat throughout the game, we had our first chance very early in the game and we had our last chance very late in the game and I thought we chipped away and we knocked at the door right the way through the 90 minutes in between.

“If you create more chances than the opposition, you’re going to win more games than them and we’ve created more chances and better chances again. We need to create more but in general I think we’re creating enough to win games and I think we did enough to win the three points, it just didn’t manage to go our way.”

Regarding the incident involving Dominic Thompson and Pompey boss Danny Cowley in the second half which saw both booked along with Ronan Curtis, the Blues manager added: “It was no big drama. It was a competitive game, two competitive teams. It as an incident which happens.

“Dominic was trying to get the ball back in play quickly. I thought Danny handled the situation well and the players diffused the situation and thankfully order was restored and the game carried on.”

Town are still picking up points at the rate of two a game, which would be automatic promotion form at the start of the season, however, following the disappointing start, that might not be enough even if the Blues continue at the same rate in the final weeks.

“We can only control what we can control,” McKenna said. “There are teams that are around us which are picking up an unusual number of points and we’ve picked up a really good number of points as well, but we don’t have a crystal ball on what’s going to be required.

“We can only control what we’re controlling. Two points a game, I feel like our performances are not far off three points a game, certainly in the last five or six we should have won every game, but we haven’t managed to do that.

“That is what it is. We just have to keep working to improve, keep focusing on ourselves, try as best as we can to recover and prepare this week for Oxford, see who is fit and available and build the team and get the team ready and try and go for three points the same way as we did today.”

Photo: TWTD

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ImAbeliever added 19:00 - Mar 12
Our best manager since SBR and I don’t say that lightly with respect to GB.

ImAbeliever added 19:04 - Mar 12
KMcK’s comments regarding incident with Thomson and Cowley says it all, quality.

ollie_smith2001 added 19:05 - Mar 12
That’s a massive call ImABeliever - incredibly disrespectful to GB

TimmyH added 19:06 - Mar 12
Good manager and have belief he will have 'his' season in 2022/23 BUT the goal was offside, I was bang in line with it and Woolfie was about a yard off. Feel sorry for him how we're now getting key players with injuries at the wrong time...but that's sods law, up to other players to step up.

ImAbeliever added 19:07 - Mar 12
I get that ollie

Wooly74 added 19:08 - Mar 12
I bet you are a believer if you think this guy is better than GB 🤦🤣😂

Either that or not old enough to remember GB and the excellent team he assembled to finish 5th in the PL.

SamWhiteUK added 19:16 - Mar 12
TimmyH, did you even read the article? It's not as cut-and-dry as that,

OldClactonBlue added 19:24 - Mar 12
TimmyH, no one is disputing that Woolfie was offside, but if he didn't touch the ball it isn't relevant.

billlm added 19:39 - Mar 12
Sorry on McKenna today, shouldn't have started morsy was carrying an injury, Carroll already sick and rubbish aluko should have replaced morsy, on McKenna today,

TimmyH added 19:42 - Mar 12
Pretty certain Woolfie did head the ball unless my eyes are deceiving me (with his highlighted bonce)?...I was in the Cobbold stand and looked pretty cut and dry to me...will be interesting to see the highlights.

ImAbeliever added 19:48 - Mar 12
Woolly I’m old enough to have been at PR pre SBR and understand your comment re GB, I’m just sick to death of living in the past.

blues1 added 20:08 - Mar 12
Timmyh. Woolfy didn't touch the ball. Dare say from ur position u couldn't tell that, but from where I sit in the sbr, almost behind the goal, only burgess headed the ball. Tbh, I thought maybe it was bonne who was flagged offside as he'd touched it on the line but reading this I see it wasn't him.

Linkboy13 added 20:21 - Mar 12
McKenna's not better than George Burley yet but potentially he might be ?

yorkieblue62 added 20:33 - Mar 12
Burley might have had a few very good years culminating in the play off final win & 5th in the Premier League but his mismanagement in the transfer market and the final 13 game4s of the following season saw us relegated and 20 years later we have still not recovered. I cannot forgive him.

BlueRuin69 added 20:40 - Mar 12

TimmyH added 20:54 - Mar 12
blues1 - just seen the replay touch and go if it was Woolfie or Burgess with that touch, no header involved :) but yes VAR would have to decipher that!

chepstowblue added 21:02 - Mar 12
McKenna being hailed as a better manager than Burley (after only 15 games in charge) is a 'stop the world I wanna get off' moment for me. The current manager is excellent, no doubt about it, calm and composed but with steely determination. Burley leading us to 5th in the prem was an unbelievable achievement. I'm lost for words as to how a comparison can be made. I'll have to sleep with the lights on tonight!!

TimmyH added 21:08 - Mar 12
Lets be honest the early signs are looking good for KM to be a good manager here but to compare him to GB who managed over 400 games and had a 45% win percentage in the leagues higher than this is ridiculous!

Europablue added 23:09 - Mar 12
ImAbeliever He may well prove to be our best manager since SBR, but for now he hasn't had a chance to prove that, and he hasn't got us promoted to the Premier League and finished 5th!

Europablue added 23:14 - Mar 12
yorkieblue62 You should be able to forgive GB for honestly making his mistakes. It was very unfortunate to get relegated that year, because it set us off on a really bad path, but as long as the manager and players give it their all, I can't really hold relegation against them.

churchmans added 23:56 - Mar 12
GB was a superb manager! Top signings,two campaigns in europe,victory at wembley!so close to even bigger things!
Up there with sir AR & BR mckenna has shown qaulity and can see potential in him being up there!

RobsonWark added 00:39 - Mar 13
George Burley cost me loads of money. I live in Ipswich but work in London. I attended the London supporters club meeting at the Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market in 2002 after we got relegated from the Premier League and David Sheepshanks and George Burley came and said we had this amazing youngster in the reserves called Darren Bent who would score us 50 goals a season. I had this amazing plan where I could win easy money. I would bet £10 that we would win the first match in the Championship and if we lost I would double up the next match. I thought it was a great idea and I couldn't lose. We went 15 matches or so before we won our first match (Wimbledon I think it was). I've never forgiven Burley since LOL.

Tractor_Boy_in_HK added 05:26 - Mar 13
It was offside, sorry. Luke didn't touch the ball but was heavily involved in the play, and distracted the keeper.

johnwarksshorts added 07:52 - Mar 13
Too early to start comparing KmcK with previous managers! he's only just started, great start, but still only just a start and no Championship or Prem experience as a manager YET! Let's concentrate on the present. He is clearly a class act, you only have to see the way he spoke about the Cowley incident and players really buying into what he's trying to achieve on the field. I can see a great future for our club with him at the helm and the new owners. COYB!

Crinkle59 added 09:36 - Mar 13
One thing sir Alf was a brilliant 1st team coach But left ITFC in a mess . no reserves or youth policy.

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