|Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Bolton Wanderers|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 30th July 2022 Kick-off 15:00
McKenna: We Did More Than Enough to Win the Game
Saturday, 30th Jul 2022 18:31
Town boss Kieran McKenna felt the Blues did more than enough to win their opening day 1-1 home draw with Bolton Wanderers.
Lee Evans equalised Aaron Morley’s penalty and Town had enough chances to win it in the second half with Sam Morsy missing the best of them as the game moved into injury time.
“I thought we did more than enough to win the game, especially in the second half but even in the final stages of the first,” McKenna said.
“It was quite an edgy first 20 minutes, which can happen, it’s understandable no matter how much you talk about it, there are still human emotions playing in front of a crowd that size and with the build-up to the game.
“I thought it was an edgy first 20 minutes, nothing really in the game, really bitty, not many balls in play.
“And obviously we got a really early blow with the penalty out of nothing that to my eye was a little bit soft, but came from nothing.
“I think the most pleasing thing from that was the response of the players and the response from the crowd.
“I thought everyone stayed really positive, it would have been easy to drop their heads at that point and for the crowd to get disappointed but everyone stayed together, I thought the response was really good.
“A well-worked goal for our goal and we started to find a rhythm at the end of the first half.
“And in the second half once the ball was able to stay in play for a little bit longer once we were able to get a little bit of flow to the game.
“I thought our football and our physicality really took over and we had more than enough chances to win a game at this level and it just wasn’t to be on the day, but I’m sure we’ll keep improving from here.”
When your side misses that many chances, does it send you back into the transfer market to find another striker? “No, it’s not just about the striker. I think the big chance was for Sam [Morsy], who plays in midfield.
“Tyreece [John-Jules] came on as a left-sided 10 and had big chances, I thought our strikers both put in really good performances.
“I thought Freddie [Ladapo] had a great battle with [Ricardo] Santos, I really enjoyed it, it gave us a really good platform in that second half to play off him and get the movement playing off him, so he was pivotal in that.
“And I thought Kayden [Jackson] came on and was a massive threat and could easily have had an assist or a goal for himself.
“I thought the strikers did well, it’s not just about the strikers, it’s about the whole team and we had enough chances throughout the game to win the game but I think we’ll get sharper in those positions as the weeks go on now and we keep building our fitness.”
McKenna was asked whether Morsy would have sleepless nights over his miss: “He’s pretty tough so I don’t think he’ll lose too much sleep over it. I thought his performance was fantastic, I have to say. Every pre-season game against Premier League teams I thought he was one of the most dominant players on the pitch.
“And again today, I thought there were a lot of good players on the pitch, I thought we had some really good performances, but the level that we’re operating at the moment is extremely high and he was very dominant in a high level game.
“He’s just got to keep pushing and pushing now as I know he will do and in terms of his goalscoring, if he gets in those positions, as he keeps doing at the moment, he’s going to get goals across the season.”
Town used four of the five subs they’re now permitted to, which benefitted them in the second half.
“It gives you that little bit of confidence to make them earlier because you’re not so worried about picking up an injury, so that helped,” the Northern Irishman said regarding the change in the rules.
“I thought the players on the pitch who started the game had already got control, but that can give that little bit of impetus and I thought the subs came on and gave us a good platform.
“But to be fair, Bolton have a very good squad as well. They brought on two, three very good forwards and midfield players, so I thought their intensity maintained so they weren’t easy to break down because they were bringing on fresh legs and it kept a little bit of a counter threat for them.
“I thought it was good in keeping the level and the intensity of the game high, which is one of the reasons I think it’s a good idea.”
John-Jules and left wing-back Greg Leigh came on in the 58th minute and both made a strong impression.
“We thought about doing that substitution as a pair, it was planned for them to come on and get their link-up going together,” McKenna said.
“Two really good options for us and Tyreece is getting stronger and stronger every week. I think everyone is starting to see the potential that we saw in him and if he can stay fit and keep get stronger, he could be a massive player for us this year. And Greg is settling in well and getting more and more used to what it’s like here.
“We have good options down there, I thought Leif [Davis] and Marcus [Harness] had real good energy, the start of the game was obviously very bitty, so it wasn’t so easy to shine but I thought they both ran well, brought a good physicality and set the game up well for the other two boys to come on with fresh legs and really give us that added impetus.”
Davis got the nod over Leigh at left wing-back despite having only joined the club on Monday and McKenna says he has tough choices to make all over the pitch.
“We have lots of difficult decisions in the squad, it’s what we want really, difficult decisions in every position almost and difficult to decide who wouldn’t make it onto the bench,” he continued.
“But I was pretty clear on that one in my head. Leif’s a player that we really like, I think he’s going to have a big future in the game if we can do the right things with him, if he can do the right things himself and we wanted to throw him straight in.
“He’s going to be an important player for us and we wanted to throw him straight in at the deep end and we knew it would probably only be 45 or 60 minutes but get him up and running rather than wait a few weeks, knowing that Greg was going to be more than capable and ready to come on and make an impact.”
McKenna was delighted with the way the 26,668 crowd, the biggest on the opening day since 2002, stayed behind his team after the setback with the penalty.
“Fantastic. The FanZone coming into the stadium was a sight to behold as well. Great to have that support, everyone appreciated it so much,” he said.
“The best thing about the crowd for me today was the reaction to conceding the goal. It would be very, very easy and perfectly understandable to have such a build-up to a game and such positivity and then to concede a goal after 20 minutes when we haven’t really started the game yet, to have a goal as easy as that against you, it would have been very easy to have negativity in the stadium.
“In those instances, playing in front of 27,000 can go either way. It can be a big backing for you or it can be a big burden for you and the way that the crowd stayed positive straight away encouraged the next attacks, they stayed right behind the players.
“I thought that was massive for us as a football club because we’re going to need that on the pitch but we’re going to need that in the stands and I thought they certainly did more than their part today.
“And the players did everything that they could in the second half to force home a win for them, we just weren’t able to get the ball in the back of the net, not through the want of the right ideas or trying.
“I think it was a good day for the club, for the unity between the team and the club and the supporters and it’s up to us to build on that now.
“We know we have the backing, we know that we have their encouragement and their support and it’s up to us to deliver more performances like the second half and if we do that we’ll give them the wins that they crave.”
He added: “It’s one of 46 games, so, to be honest, whether we’d have won today, ended up with a draw that probably should have been a win or we’d lost today, I’d probably been saying the same things - three points next week against Forest Green next week is massive.
“And the way we do that is by having an outstanding training week, doing all the right things Monday to Friday, going there with the correct mentality and knowing that it’s going to be a really tough game.
“Knowing that with them having their first home game and first game in the division, it’s going to be a game with a big atmosphere and the pivotal thing, whatever way today had gone, is how we approach that game next week and how we go there and put in the right performance to give ourselves a chance to get a result.
“A draw’s a draw, could have been a win, probably should have been a win, but I think we’ll take the positives from it, from everything involved in the day and we’ll move on to next week.”
Bolton manager Ian Evatt felt the Blues' goal changed the impetus of the game.
“We were in complete control first half. I think we started the game really well. Our press was excellent, it was intense, they struggled to find solutions, they couldn’t get out and we completely dominated,” he said.
“The set play wobbled us and changed momentum, as it will when there’s 30,000 fans shouting and screaming for their team.
“We got to half-time and managed the game particularly well and then second half we just lacked a bit of quality in possession which is not like us.
“We had the resilience and we had the fight and we had the energy and the work ethic, we just lacked that in possession edge and quality and that’s something we’ll work on
“But we have to give huge credit to the opposition as well. They’re a really good team who are very well coached and ask you lots of questions.”
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