'We've got to be given time to grow' - Cook on 2-2 draw with Morecambe
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says his new-look side has 'got to be given time to grow' after Macauley Bonne's stoppage-time goal salvaged an opening day 2-2 draw against newly-promoted Morecambe at Portman Road this afternoon.
Town fan Bonne raced onto fellow substitute James Norwood's flick-on to score in the 91st minute and send a 21,037 crowd wild.
Prior to that, Shrimps striker Cole Stockton had profited from some poor Blues defending to twice give the Shrimps the lead (22 and 72) either side of a brilliantly worked Scott Fraser goal (61).
"The goals we gave away were shocking, absolutely shocking, but great credit goes to Morecambe today," said Cook.
"It's a game where most of the country are expecting them to get beat, but their lads gave everything for their club and can leave the stadium very proud.
"For us, we're a new team. I think our first goal showed the quality that we might possess in terms of opening Morecambe up and scoring an amazing goal.
"But then we gave away the softest goal you'll ever see.
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"It sucked the life out of me, so I don't know what it did to the team. We all get the same emotions.
"When we get back in the game we need to control the game and get into areas of the pitch where we can score a second goal like we scored the first, not make the game open and allow them to score again.
"Towards the end you just felt it was getting away from us. The game had turned into a bit of a circus with some strange refereeing decisions and yellow cards coming out. We looked like we'd lost our way in the game a bit.
"It's a big learning curve for our lads. It was always going to be a tough day with Morecambe in a no-lose situation. I think probably both teams will go home reasonably okay with the result in the end.
"I'm pleased not to get beat. We're up and running. I'm delighted that our supporters are back - I thought the atmosphere was electric. Now we move on to the next game."
Eight players made their full competitive debuts for Town, with Bonne making it nine off the bench. Aston Villa loanee Louie Barry was an unused sub, having only signed yesterday, while fellow summer signings George Edmundson (injured) and Sone Aluko (didn't sign in time yesterday) were not involved.
"You've got the likes of (Conor) Chaplin and (Joe) Pigott playing together for the first time," said Cook. "You physically can't make football up guys.
"We don't know out best team yet. We're new. We're brand new. We've got players arriving at the training ground for the first time yesterday. We've got medicals going on. We've got new cars in the car park. We're new!
"We've got to be given that time to grow. We'll keep working hard. I just hope today that fans leave the ground speaking well about the game. It was a 2-2 draw, two teams very committed to winning and long may that continue here.
"It's gong to be a long season for our fans and we need everyone supporting. Nowadays it's easy to jump onto the things you do wrong. We did loads of things wrong today, but we also did quite a few things right. So we'll stick with the positives. We're going to build the team every week and give them more confidence to believe in themselves and play. They'll feed off the energy of the Portman Road crowd. If we stay together we'll have a good season.
"It's a massive club and a massive honour to represent it. It doesn't come overnight, no matter what football fans think. We know there's a lot of hard work to do. We're not stupid people. We know we're a big scalp in this league. We just want to work hard and do our best to make our supporters proud."
On Bonne's winner, the Chantry boy kissing the badge in front of the North Stand, Cook said: "I must give a special mention to Macauley Bonne. He's an absolute Ipswich Town fan through and through. He absolutely idolises and loves this club and tonight he'll have a memory that will last forever won't he? Scoring a goal in front of a packed home end and celebrating with his own fans. What a night for him and his family.
"You'll probably tell me now I should have got him on earlier! That's football."
Toto Nsiala was forced off, distraught, with a hamstring injury in the first half, with Janoi Donacien coming on at centre-back.
"At the minute if you go through our squad we still have a few positions and slots that we want to fill," said Cook.
"As you can imagine, defensively will be one. Central midfield is another. There are positions we have to fill. As a club we're not there yet. We'll keep looking for the quality that's required to play for this club. You must have quality and application to play here.
"Players have to want to come here and take us forward. If players want to be like that then they'll join us, if not then we'll just keep being patient.
"Toto's injury gives someone else an opportunity. We've got Corrie Ndaba. We know what we need to do. We'll never be down on players. It's easy to make excuses. It's a game we probably felt we should have won, especially after equalising, so it's a massive learning curve.
"We all want to do well - for the owners, for Mark Ashton, for the supporters, for everyone. In that willingness to want to do well we've got to make sure we just keep playing football. We just stay on the page that we're on. We don't get caught up, like Lee Evans and Rekeem (Harper) late on in the game, trying to do five men's jobs. They are very good at doing their own jobs. That's what we want from our players."
Asked if new additions were close, Cook added: "Yeah! Mark Ashton's on fire at the minute, isn't he? Hopefully he'll keep it going!"