'It's painful watching us, isn't it?' - Cook on 2-1 win against Bristol Rovers and Norwood injury

Town manager Paul Cook, animated on the touchline.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admitted his side are 'painful to watch' following this afternoon's 2-1 home victory against Bristol Rovers.

The Blues raced into a two-goal lead, Luke Leahy netting an own goal inside the first minute before Andre Dozzell's sliced effort landed nicely at the feet of Alan Judge for what should have been a nerve-settling second in the 11th minute.

Dozzell's mistake led to Luke McCormick chipping Tomas Holy in the 19th minute though and the tide quickly turned.

Town were fortunate to reach the break still in front and then scrapped their way to an unconvincing three points after the restart.

"We were great for 10 minutes then terrible for 80!" said Cook.

"It's painful watching us isn't it? As a manager it is. I don't know what it must be like for you fans or reporters. We don't do anything easy. The games are all marginal, they are all an odd goal.

"We started the game well at home and the two goals should have seen us go on to win the game (more comfortably).

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"I'd say it was a very workmanlike, very honest performance. Those are traits that, over the first few weeks of me being at the club, I've wanted a bit more than we could do if I am truthful.

"But they showed great character today and sometimes when you're on the road and you lose a couple of games like we have then people ask really tough questions of the players.

"When you are a big club like we are, people can continually talk about it without backing it up. Our lads have had to carry that a little bit and sometimes it's probably been a bit too heavy for some.

"Today, and on the run in now, it's just about trying to win games. If we can keep nicking a few results and keep working hard and get a bit of rub of the green then you never know where it might take us.

"Great credit to them. Winning today in football is more important than anything. We probably needed that win. I needed that win, the fans needed it, the players did - and we got it. So we're all delighted. With nine games to go there is still so much to play for."

He added: "Actually, forget the players, I needed the win! I've got Lee O'Neill telling me every day 'one win in six'!

"As people know it's going to be a big job here, a tough job, and over a period of time supporters are going to want to see the changes that are right. I'm not coming on threatening people or trying to promise what will happen. All I promise our supporters is that we'll leave no stone unturned in trying to make our club successful."

Asked why his team had made such hard work of the win , the Liverpudlian replied: "Goals change games don't they? At this moment in time we are a little bit brittle, if you like.

"Listen, you've got to be brave to play. Andre Dozzell is a smashing young player, he's going to be a very good player. In his career he'll make more mistakes like that, it's about learning from it. I thought after the mistake he stayed with the game really well.

"Today, when had to defend, great credit, I thought we done that really well."

Not long after Rovers had pulled a goal back, Town keeper Tomas Holy was booked after clattering into Jonah Ayunga outside the area.

"Joey (Barton) was fuming on the sidelines and I understand his frustration," said Cook. "I can only be honest. In my opinion it is possibly a red card. If I was the visiting manager I'd be wanting a red card there. The keeper looks like he's the back man and the referee has made a big call hasn't he? Would that have changed the game? Yes, without a doubt. So I get Joey's frustration.

"I know Joey has felt aggrieved with referees and officials leading up to this game and today he'll rightly feel aggrieved again. Where does that take Joey? He's got to be careful because in the end he is banging his head against a brick wall because you can't change the decisions. You can phone the referees as many times as you want and it won't change anything. Hopefully Joey gets the results for Bristol Rovers and we'll concentrate on ourselves.

"If Bristol Rovers keep playing like that they'll be okay. I thought they were excellent at times, they controlled the game for long periods. Probably without looking like scoring, but we didn't look like scoring either."

Bristol Rovers also felt Town sub Aaron Drinan should have received a second booking for a robust aerial collision in the second half.

"Aaron's not a red card in my opinion," said Cook. "Aaron's just being dead honest. With the greatest of respect that wasn't one."

On his side's lack of goal threat after the break, Cook quipped: "We scored two today! We don't score! So two is like a massive bonus for us! Listen, there's been a lot of criticism of the players and that's football today. 

"They are a really nice group of lads, they are dead honest, they don't give you any problems. But playing for big clubs has a demand. Ipswich is a big club and our lads have got to step up to that a little bit more. 

"Today is a step in the right direction. It's a very small step, but still a forwards step."

Town move up to ninth in the table and remain two points adrift of the play-off places heading into their final nine matches, the next of which is at rock-bottom Rochdale on Monday.

"We just keep going," said Cook. "In these leagues you never know what's around the corner. The results are so unpredictable. There will be hiccups, there will be slip ups. We've got to make sure we get in them play-offs. That's our challenge.

"There is an amount of points out there that you need. It's well within our capabilities to get them. We don't have to get them in one game. Last week we felt the disappointment of not winning a game away (0-0nat Wigan) and you think we can't make the play-offs. Tonight we'll feel a little bit more elated, the league table will look a little bit more better, but there's still a long way to go. We'll just keep fighting and fighting and fighting."

Following both the previous games, Cook had said he was tempted to abandon his long favoured 4-2-3-1 system and partner James Norwood and Kayden Jackson in attack. He did that today, the Blues playing with a 3-5-2 system.

Asked how he thought his team had adapted, Cook joked: "I was going to say badly then, but that wouldn't be the right word!

"I think when you do certain formations the reality is you'll give up possession. We've given up possession a little bit in our hope of getting more goals and winning the game. We've had a little bit of luck along the way today, but the lads have worked ever so hard. Sometimes you get that rub of the green.

"I've been managing a long time now., I like a system and certain style of play, but to have a certain style of play you have to have the personnel to do it. It was quite simply that we didn't have the personnel to play that way.

"That's a challenge for me going forwards. I've got to give the players the help from the sidelines and the stands that they can go and win games. I felt today we helped them with the formation... not that I'm taking any credit for that I might add. It's down to the players. We only put 11 out there and the lads have to go and do their jobs.

"When you watch us guys the majority of games are on a knife's edge. The majority of games will be settled by a goal either way. That's how it pans out.

"As a manager you always ask yourself 'what have you learnt today?' Well I haven't learnt a great deal that I didn't already know about our players other than when we have to show character we can. But we have to be built in a solid way to do that, so rather than be expansive sometimes we've got to sacrifice that for a little bit of solidity. When you do that you see games out."

Norwood was replaced by Drinan at half-time in this game. Asked if that was an injury, Cook said: "Yeah, it's thigh. Again, we're just picking up injury after injury after injury. I've never ben involved in a club that has so many if I'm truthful. But it's the hand you're dealt. You just keep going and keep believing in what you're doing.

"He wanted to carry on, but from my experience with injuries once you start feeling them get them of as quickly as you can and save them for a rainy day.

"I think Benno (Keanan Bennetts) and (Oli) Hawkins have played 45 minutes today at Norwich. Flynn Downes and (Myles) Kenlock are on the grass. There's been a little bit of bad news today (with Norwood), but fingers crossed we have a little bit of good news as well."

Asked if we could see Downes back over the coming weeks, Cook said: "I wouldn't say the next few weeks. I'd say sooner than that."

Meanwhile, the Blue Action group of Ipswich fans held up a banner calling for owner Marcus Evans to 'reform or sell' outside the players' entrance prior to the game. Cook was seen going over to speak to them.

Asked about that conversation, the Blues boss said: "That will remain private. But I get fans' frustrations. I'm a fan. I'm a real football fan. I understand everyone's frustration. But we've got to come together as a football club now, because if we're going to be successful we need each other. We don't need splits in the camp."

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