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'Until it's mathematically certain you never, ever give in' - Lambert reacts to Reading defeat as gap grows to 12 points

PUBLISHED: 18:17 02 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:17 02 March 2019

Town players Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and Teddy Bishop pictured at the final whistle in the defeat by Reading.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.com

Town players Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and Teddy Bishop pictured at the final whistle in the defeat by Reading. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he won't concede his team are heading for League One until it's mathematically confirmed following this afternoon's damaging 2-1 home defeat to Reading.

A disappointed looking Toto Nsiala reflects after the defeat by Reading.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comA disappointed looking Toto Nsiala reflects after the defeat by Reading. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

The rock-bottom Blues are now 12 points adrift of both fourth-bottom Reading and third-bottom Rotherham with just 11 games of the Championship campaign to play. They also have a significantly worse goal difference than the teams they are trying to chase.

It was the same old story today as Town made costly defensive errors and failed to take golden chances. Gwion Edwards (83) cancelled out Norwich City loanee Nelson Oliveira’s opener (19) before Mo Barrow netted a last-minute winner.

“The mood in the dressing room is what you’d expect,” said Lambert.

“Reading didn’t have many chances, but they took their chances.

Town assistant manager Stuart Taylor applauding fans at the final whistle.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comTown assistant manager Stuart Taylor applauding fans at the final whistle. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“The two goals we conceded we were really poor. We should have stopped them. They should never have occurred. A long ball for the first one and the second goal there was never any danger. We had two-v-one at the back and never dealt with it.

MORE: Match report: Ipswich Town 1 Reading 2 – Blues look destined for League One now after more late heartbreak

“We had a great chance towards the end of the first half through (Jon) Nolan. He had a really good game, but the boy had a really good chance and never took it.

“Second half we did everything we can to score. We missed too many big chances. Then we concede another really, really poor goal.”

In addition to Nolan’s close-range effort being saved before the break, Town had big chances to salvage a point during six minutes of stoppage-time as Emiliano Martinez spectacularly denied Edwards before Luke Chambers and Collin Quaner both put headed chances wide.

“We had a lot of chances,” admitted Lambert. “The goalkeeper’s made some good saves, we had some bad misses – I think that’s been the story the whole time. Both boxes is crucial.

“The thing that annoys me is that we’re playing well, but in both boxes you’ve got to be more clinical than what we are.”

With away trips to high-flying West Brom and Bristol City up next, he continued: “Time is not on our side, that’s for sure, but until it’s mathematically certain you never, ever give in. Your job is to try and win games.

Luke Chambers screaming at his players after a late first half attack by Reading.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comLuke Chambers screaming at his players after a late first half attack by Reading. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“It’s still possible. It’s going to be really hard. But you never, ever give in.

“We’ve got too many fans that come and support to give up.

MORE: ‘We’ve said it for a while now but after that result...’ - Town fans react to defeat to Reading

“The support today (a crowd of 23,009) was fabulous again. You feel it for them because they’ve been absolutely brilliant since we’ve come in. As I keep saying, it’s not a normal situation the way they keep turning up and getting behind us.

Collin Quaner looking for a way through.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comCollin Quaner looking for a way through. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“You’re going to have that downbeat feeling. That’s normal when you lose a game. But you can’t let it fester because that brings everybody down.

“You try and analyse it for one day and then you’ve got to let it go.

“It will hurt, no doubt, for a couple of days. Then you get them back in and you go again.”

James Collins’ comeback performance lasted 40 minutes before he went off injured. He was replaced by Toto Nsiala.

Alan Judge with a long range shot.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comAlan Judge with a long range shot. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Then, at half-time, Lambert used his remaining two subs as Cole Skuse and Gwion Edwards replaced James Bree and Trevoh Chalobah.

That saw the system change from wing-backs – and Teddy Bishop operating as a makeshift striker – to 4-3-3.

“The changes were nothing to do with the system, it was all about personnel,” explained Lambert.

“I thought Gwion (Edwards) could provide some legs and energy.

Gwion Edwards celebrates his goal to put Town level.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comGwion Edwards celebrates his goal to put Town level. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“Trevoh Chalobah was struggling with his thigh and, for me, Cole Skuse is a better midfielder in a three. So that’s why I changed it.

“I thought Cole did really well, I thought Gwion had a good impact and I thought Toto done well too.”

Lambert revealed Collins’ injury was to his calf, not the hamstring which had previously kept him sidelined.

“I don’t know the extent of it with the calf,” he said. “We’ll just assess him on Monday.

Luke Chambers and James Collins in battle early on.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comLuke Chambers and James Collins in battle early on. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this before. Wardy (Grant Ward) cruciate, Freddie (Sears) cruciate, (Ben) Folami Achilles, Ben Morris cruciate, Tom Adeymei out for the best part of 15 months, Emyr Huws the same… It’s an incredible injury list.

“But you have to get through these situations. Hopefully when we get a pre-season we can get everybody fit.”

Finally, assessing Bishop’s role as a makeshift striker in the first half, Lambert said: “I think the kid has got incredible energy is an incredible ball carrier. The great thing about Bishop is he’s training every single day and is able to play game-after-game again.

“Bish is a player you need to give freedom to go and play. Second half I thought he had a good game.”

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