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Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Middlesbrough
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 13th April 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Hladky: A Good Point, Every Point Can Count at the End
Saturday, 13th Apr 2024 20:45 by Russell Claydon

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky was pleased to have played a key role in helping the Blues get a reward from what he saw as a positive performance against Middlesbrough, feeling the point from the 1-1 draw could be crucial in the automatic promotion race.

In their penultimate Sky Bet Championship home game of the season, Kieran McKenna’s side fell behind against the run of play to Emmanuel Latte Lath’s 20th-minute header.

But they deservedly drew level 10 minutes later when Massimo Luongo showed great desire to get ahead of his marker to volley home a Leif Davis corner.

Jeremy Sarmiento went on to see an effort roll off the post as a dominant first half for the Blues ended level.

But, despite seeing more of the ball in the second half as well, it was left to their Czech stopper to come up with two big late saves in quick succession from the 80-minute mark, from Isaiah Jones’s low shot and then Matt Clarke’s close-range header, to preserve a point.

It ensured his side regained top spot in the table ahead of their final three games as they took advantage of 1-0 defeats for Leicester City and Leeds United.

Hladky admitted there was some disappointment at not being able to get the three points, having now drawn successive games at Portman Road, following on from Wednesday’s goalless stalemate with Watford but that the performance was what they were left reflecting on.

“The performance, especially the first half was really good,” he said. “I think we could get more from the first half in terms of goals as we were so dominant and got a lot of chances, but at the end of the day it’s a draw and we were just a bit disappointed obviously.

“We always focus on the performance because it’s the main thing for us, to go there and do the things that we’re working for.

“But then obviously the result is the second thing and sometimes it is going our way but unfortunately not today. But still, it’s a good point in terms of every point can count at the end.”

As has so often been the case this season, the Blues were not knocked off their stride after falling behind, producing a solid response to Latte Lath’s opener with Luongo levelling within 10 minutes.

“As I said, in the first half I think we could go two or three-nil up and the game could be totally different and it’s always like that when you perform really well first half it’s just a bit harder for us to get there and be 90 minutes as dominant as the first half,” said Hladky.

“There’s room to improve, to stay on it and to be the same level as the first half and finish the game, that’s the next level for us.”

Asked about his late saves from Jones and Clarke, he admitted they were big moments but also paid tribute to his team-mates’ role in earning the point.

“They are massive saves, to be honest,” he said. “I am not saying this often but it was really good and I’m really pleased to save the point actually.

“But it was not just me, there were super blocks as well in the first half as well from the centre-backs as well so that’s our job and one game it’s me and another it’s a different lot.

“Obviously it’s a part of the journey and the big performance and sometimes we have to step up and do the things that we need.”

The Blues squad now head into a two-week break from action – with Coventry City’s involvement in the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals meaning that game has been put back – ahead of travelling to face Hull City on April 27th (8pm) as they enter the final week of the season.

But Hladky, who earlier in the week revealed he has opened discussions on a new contract with his current deal set to expire in the summer, sees it as neither an advantage or disadvantage.

“We’ve been talking about it before the game that it is what it is and we don’t really think about if it’s an advantage or if we would rather play Saturday-Saturday. It is what it is and we go for it and we accept it,” he said.

With Leicester City and Leeds United both failing to win yet again this weekend, he was asked if the top-three winning only once across nine games sums up how crazy the promotion race is in the Championship.

He replied: “I don’t know about other teams but from our point of view I’ve seen good performances on Wednesday and Saturday as well so we haven’t got too many issues. So we just want to stay on it and what we’ve been doing all season, I don’t see any big troubles.”

The Blues went into the Middlesbrough game after both of their main title rivals had played, but the former Salford City stopper said it was not hard to keep those results out of his mind when stepping onto the pitch.

“For me personally it’s easy, I don’t really see into the heads of the other lads, but as a team I think there’s no disruption, I would say,” he said.

“As I say, I think we played well and we went for the win, especially in the first half we were front foot and we tried to kill the game early on. I don’t see any problems in terms of looking at the other results.”

Asked if he would be watching games involving Leicester and Leeds during their own break from action, he said: “Yes, I think if you know on the matchday where you want to be focused for yourself obviously you have a look at the table as it’s going to the end and I think it’s a natural thing for everyone.”

Asked about finding themselves at the top of the table with three games to go, with Leicester having four, Hladky said: “Yes it’s fantastic, it’s another point on the way.

“Obviously there’s three more left and with the circumstances with results before your game you’re always thinking it’s a good time and chance to kill it and go for it.

“But still, it’s a great position; we’ve got two points clear on Leeds (and one clear of Leicester) and if somebody asked us before the season starts you would take it 100 per cent. It’s a great, great position.”

With Town now switching to seeing how other teams get on before they play their next game, he feels it will have no impact on their own mindset.

“No, not at all,” he replied. “And next week it could be a different way, we could play first and then obviously they have to react but we will just focus on ourselves.”

Photo: TWTD

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Tommy_ITFC added 21:16 - Apr 13
My MOTM. We'd be two points worse off in these last two games if it wasn't for him. Obviously dissapointing not to get the win but we've got a 2 week break now for some recovery and injured players to hopefully make a return. Believe, COYB

blueboy1981 added 21:28 - Apr 13
Make no mistake - this Player has saved us, and made us points this Season - totally saved us from losing the points in the past two Games !!
Well Done Hladky - you deserve MUCH praise for your contributions.

SpiritOfJohn added 07:06 - Apr 14
Two amazing saves yesterday. Both getting deserved ovations from the relieved supporters behind the goal. I think Hladky may have even surprised himself with his save from the header. One of our top 3 performers all season - up there with Morsy and Davis.

Marcus added 09:50 - Apr 14
Playing as a "goalsweeper" promises nervous moments in almost every game, but it does enable an extra player to push forward. It's taken a while to warm to this style but it's a key part of our success this season. Some top-drawer saves yesterday earned us the point.

Expectations are defined by the season so far, which puts a lot of pressure on everyone but matching or bettering Leeds is all we need to do - now it's about what happens with the games in hand, we'll be in control of our destiny playing after our divisional rivals. Three cup finals to go!

Nomore4 added 10:10 - Apr 14
A poor choice of pass led to the boro goal. The quicker Slicker is no1 the better IMO.
Not the 1st time by any means. Luckily for him the poor pass choice normally ends with him making a great save to redeem. As happened in previous Watford game

ArnieM added 11:51 - Apr 14
Top GK for us. Two worldies yesterday to keep us in the hunt. Next season, whatever division we are in I hope this Club brings in a couple of CB’s. We need them!

ipswichone added 12:00 - Apr 14
Goalkeeper was outstanding with two very good saves,and one spectacular save,which was heading for the top corner.yes we only got a draw,but we are top,and presently not wobbling as much as Leicester or Leeds.yes we have two games away,but keep grinding out results.There seems to be a lot of negativity on media sites,when we should be positive. Leeds and Leicester have Southampton to play,and they are the form keep the faith,up the town!

TimmyH added 12:30 - Apr 14
2 great saves to get us the point yesterday as other posters have mentioned so well done Vaclav but some of those attempts we should have scored from...we've got 2 tough away games our away performances need to be better!

waldenblue7 added 18:49 - Apr 14
Thank you Vaz for the point. Amazing reaction saves, completely deserving for the no 1 jersey

hyperbrit added 00:39 - Apr 15
obviously playing out from the back is a work in progress but is a must in the Premiership. To say Slicker should be our #1 keeper however is ridiculous. and when does that leave our #2?

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