'We'll lick our wounds and go again' - Cook on Town's 3-1 loss at Gillingham
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admits his team were second best in this afternoon's 3-1 defeat at Gillingham, insisting the players need to 'lick their wounds' and go again.
Jack Tucker rifled the hosts ahead in the seventh minute, with Steve Evans' direct and physical outfit winning the majority of first and second balls throughout.
Luke Chambers' fine header put Town on terms in the 65th minute, but Gillingham went on to secure a deserved win through a Vadaine Oliver brace (73 and 80).
Town's first defeat in six matches sees them remain outside the League One play-off places ahead of back-to-back home matches against Lincoln and Plymouth.
"I don't think Gillingham away was the best one for my first game!" joked Cook, who only took his first training session on Thursday.
"I told Steve (Evans) beforehand that he had a day off with me today. I'm shattered after the two days I've had.
"Fair play to Gillingham today, I thought they deserved to win the game. They were very strong, very physical, played the game in a really strong manner and I thought they deserved to win. So my congratulations to them.
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"Listen, I'm not going to start dissecting the game. I've just said that to the lads. The games are coming so thick and fast that you don't have time to make excuses as to why you get beat. When we get back to Ipswich we'll look back at the game and ways of how we can get better.
He continued: "You come to Gillingham and you know what they are going to do and how they'll test you. They did test us and unfortunately we didn't stand up to that test.
"I think the 5-10 minutes after we equalised was probably the only time in the game where we probably looked like we were in the ascendency and could go on and win.
"Then we conceded a goal, possibly against the run of play, if you like, at that little moment. But for long spells Gillingham were the more aggressive team and the better team, so it's a really disappointing day for us
"Gillingham were the stronger team and looked more of a threat, if you like, without both teams creating chances. It wasn't a great game of football in any shape or form.
"As I say, you don't have time nowadays. You dust yourselves down. We've got Lincoln and Plymouth at home now. It's straight onto the next one.
"Every club has a bad day, and sometimes when you have a bad day everything looks really bad. The most important thing is that the next day becomes a good one.
"It was always going to be a difficult game. Against Gillingham or a Steve Evans team you have to earn the right to win a football match and, unfortunately for us today, I felt Gillingham were the better side.
"I genuinely felt that we huffed and puffed. It's my first game, we haven't had much time, it is what it is. You're always looking for sparks and today, in a difficult game, I didn't feel we had that many sparks. The reality is we've been on a really good run though, so the sparks have been there.
"So what we must do is lick our wounds, accept it's a bad day and hope that the next bad day isn't going to be for a period of time. The most important thing is that we bounce back on Tuesday night."
Asked if a run of difficult games, against the likes of Hull, Doncaster and Accrington, may have caught up on the players today, Cook said: "No. It's the same for Gillingham. We have an avenue for making excuses for losing, but we weren't good enough today. We conceded three really poor goals away from home and when you do that the likelihood is you'll get beat - and we did.
"The third goal is not irrelevant, because it killed us off, but the second goal was always going to decide the game I felt. And the disappointing thing is that came at a time when I thought we could go on and win. Up to that point I didn't really feel we looked like creating chances. That seems to be a bit of a problem we've had all season.
"As I say, we'll lick our wounds, we'll travel back, we'll work harder and try and come back better."
He continued: "I've been in the building for two/three days, so you're learning all the time. That's the good thing about this game.
"The bigger clubs in League One, like Ipswich, the reality is they will go forwards. Whoever takes them forwards is not the main point, but the reality is the club will go forward one day because the structures of the club are too big.
"For us at Ipswich Town we know we've got to be better and get out of this league. Obviously today's performance won't see us do that.
"With games like today I prefer to be quite brief. We all know what we can say about the game and the performance, which is not needed to be said. I think those things need to be said in the dressing room.
"It's now Lincoln, Plymouth, Fleetwood, Pompey... There's no respite in this league. That's for anyone. If you want to be successful you've got to win football games. We're well aware of that."
Kayden Jackson came on as a sub, marking his return to the team following a period of exile under previous boss Paul Lambert.
"That was a positive, wasn't it? For sure it was," said Cook. "Kayden's got that electric pace that strikers of a certain level have. We've got to make sure with the rest of the lads who were out of the squad that they feel they've got a chance and when they get a chance comes it's up to them to take it.
"Over two years we've probably seen a real big turnaround in players, probably too many coming in and out the club in too quick a time. While my job is to win games, and I accept I have to win games, it's also to bring some sanity to the club. We have too many players, you can't coach too many players and keep them happy.
"We have a large squad and lot of players being left back in Ipswich. Normally what happens, when teams lose, is that there is clamour for change in the team. But I've never been a great manager for change and stuff like that.
"As I say, we get back, lick our wounds and we go again."
With Alan Judge absent due to a family bereavement, Cook added: "Alan's well aware of the support he gets at the football club; the supporters, the staff, the players, Marcus (Evans), Lee (O'Neill), everybody. All our thoughts go out to him as he goes through a very sad time. We all hope can come back, at whatever point it is, and give us a little lift."