|Forest Green Rovers 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 6th August 2022 Kick-off 15:00
McKenna: Important Three Points
Saturday, 6th Aug 2022 18:28
Town boss Kieran McKenna felt it was important for the Blues to get all three points away against Forest Green Rovers, who they beat 2-1 at the Bolt New Lawn, which he believes won’t be an easy place for clubs to visit this season.
Marcus Harness netted his first Town goal and skipper Sam Morsy curled in a brilliant second before Josh Marsh pulled one back for the home side, who gave the Blues a few scares after the break.
“Important to get the three points,” McKenna reflected. “Not an easy place to come, I think they’ll do well at home, I think they’ll take points off teams, so to come here and get three points, lots of positives in the performance, scored a couple of goals and lots of things to build on, so I think we were happy with the outcome.
“I thought they still tried to play at times and they played their part. In the first half I thought we dominated really and controlled it but in the second half they came out with fresh impetus and a substitution which worked well for them.
“But at the start of the second half, we need to be more clinical to go and get the goal before they do because we had the opportunity.
“They kept going to the end, credit to them. Obviously it was a big game for them as well and they fought all the way to the end and they made us work really hard for it. That was always going to be the case and, as I say, I think they’ve give lots of teams a tough game here.”
Regarding the goals, McKenna felt it was important for Harness to get off the mark and also that Leif Davis played a part in the move which led to it.
“Very important for him and for Leif to make that progression again,” he said. “I thought it was a team goal, a good cross from Leif and Marcus was there to do what he does well in the penalty area, he’s an instinctive finisher and he shoots with power off both feet, he gives us that little bit in the penalty box.
“Good for them, a good step forward this week in having a full training week with us again and getting more minutes on the pitch again.
“I think the boys that started did well and the players who came on at a difficult moment for the team gave us really good energy off the bench and really helped us put in what I thought was a strong last 20 minutes.”
Despite the nervy spell, Town ultimately played the final minutes out reasonably comfortably.
“I thought we saw it out well,” the Northern Irishman reflected. “That’s a big thing in this league because, as we’ve said before, the momentum of games can change so, so quickly and if you switch off for one moment as we did at 2-0, then 2-1, then it can become chaos.
“And it was chaos for a couple of minutes and that was when we needed Christian [Walton] to make a really good save, a double save for us.
“But after that I thought we regained our composure well, our discipline was good, our energy was good until the end, and we certainly looked the more likely team to score a goal at the end. I thought we saw that game stage out well.”
Walton made a number of important saves, not least his first-half block from home skipper Jamille Matt, immediately prior to Harness’s opening goal.
“I think it’s on display every week, even when he doesn’t make the big saves,” McKenna paid tribute.
“With our style of play and how we impose ourselves in games, he isn’t always so involved with shot stopping but I think his distribution is going to another level. He’s working every so hard at his all-round game and he’s really starting attacks for us really positive and opening his range on his kicking as well.
“He’s dominating the penalty box as he does very well and obviously then his job is to produce the big saves whenever they’re needed and he certainly did that today and showed again why he’s such a high-performing and high-potential goalkeeper.”
Walton also held on to pretty much every Forest Green corner over the course of the afternoon.
“He’s fantastic on that, I have to say,” The Blues boss continued. “I’ve not seen too many better. We had to tweak a few little details in our system because we know how dominant he is in certain spaces. That’s a big part of his game and it really helps the team.”
Regarding Morsy’s goal, he added: “We said it last week, if he keeps getting in there he’s going to score. He got in for the header before his goal, which I thought was a good chance, a good pull-back by Wes.
“He got in there for the header and was unlucky for that one but he’s got the physical attributes and the hunger to keep getting in the box and we try and allow him and encourage that with him in the structure and if he keeps getting in there, he’s going to get chances.
“He works really hard on his finishing and improving his finishing still, and if he keeps doing that, he’s going to keep improving and he’s going to keep adding goals.”
Quizzed on the late incident when Cameron Burgess and Marsh tangled and Forest green’s players and fans were calling for a red card, McKenna said: “I’d have to watch it back, to be fair. Obviously the striker got in on the wrong side of us but I thought the ball was going through to Christian anyway, that was how I saw it, so I thought it was the correct decision.”
Asked about the absence through illness of centre-half Luke Woolfenden and midfielder Rekeem Harper, he said: “We’ve had a bug in the camp in the last 48 hours, we had a couple of staff go down and couple of staff go down and a couple of players go down, so that’s not been easy in the preparation but it seems to be passing through pretty quickly, so we’re hopeful that they’ve recover to be involved next week.”
Forest Green boss Ian Burchnall believed Burgess should have seen red in the late incident.
“We didn’t get the decision and it was disappointing, but it looked it and a brave decision for the referee if he’s going to send him off, but he didn’t and I’m not sure he got it right,” he said. “But look, we have to live with it.”
However, he was pleased with the way his team fought back having been two goals down at the break.
“I think we matched them in many areas today,” he said. "And I’ll be very surprised if they’re not right at the very top of the league this season.”
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