Gallery & reaction: Mick McCarthy challenges Ipswich Town striker to hit 20 goals after 4-1 win over Leeds

Daryl Murphy (centre) celebrates after scoring Ipswich Town's third goal.

Daryl Murphy (centre) celebrates after scoring Ipswich Town's third goal. - Credit: Ashley Pickering

Ipswich v Leeds: Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has challenged Daryl Murphy to hit 20 goals this season after the red-hot striker scored twice in this afternoon’s comfortable 4-1 home win over Leeds United.

The Republic of Ireland international has now netted nine in nine for Town, is now the Championship’s leading scorer with 13 and already has equalled his career-best tally from last season.

“You always set out to match last season’s tally so I wonder what his target is now?” said McCarthy. “He’ll probably say ‘as many as I can get’, but he’s matched his target in less than half a season so let’s see if he can be up there in the 20s and be the leading scorer in the league.”

The 31-year-old has never been prolific, his goals to game ratio a poor 0.1 per game before he joined the Blues on a permanent basis in the summer of 2013, so what’s changed?

“One, he works every Friday with TC (Terry Connor),” said McCarthy. “And I keep saying, TC is one of the best striker coaches around – they all thrive on and love those sessions.

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“Two, I wanted to sign him and make him our primary striker. The number nine on the back makes a big difference to someone’s confidence.

“They say it doesn’t matter what number you have on your back, but you don’t see too many number nines of the bench. Tyrone Mings wanted number three and he got it. If it makes them feel good about themselves then it helps.”

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Town had trailed to Mirko Antenucci’s fourth minute opener, but they came storming back to lead 4-1 by the early in the second half – Murphy’s header (12) and near post finish (45+), McGoldrick’s penalty (26) and Christophe Berra’s close-range finish (48) allowing an element of showboating in a comfortable finish.

Was this Town’s best performance of the season?

“Yes, for a number of reasons,” said McCarthy. “One, we had to come from one-nil down, against a team who have been playing well. Second, for scoring four goals.

“I thought the all-round performance was very good. So yes, it’s as good as anything we’ve done I’d say.”

Was he able to enjoy the final half an hour?

“You’re still on red-alert, you still have to be disciplined, do the right things, not go backwards and keep on the front foot.

“I would have to say for the last five minutes or so I did start to get cold! It was the first time for a while, that I can remember, that we weren’t biting our nails. That was kind of nice.

“I think the vital goal might have been the one just after half-time. Someone just asked me ‘did that one just before half-time change your team talk?’ Not really, because still the next goal is vital. If it can gone to 3-2 momentum can change. So to get a fourth so soon after half-time was vital. That really put the game to bed.

“We kept pushing, could have had more and limited their chances.”

– See Monday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for comment, analysis and more reaction.

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