'It was an absolutely shocking performance' - Cook on 2-1 defeat at Accrington
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook said his players produced an ‘absolutely shocking’ performance in this afternoon’s 2-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley.
Macauley Bonne’s first half finish was overturned by goals from Colby Bishop (50) and Harry Pell (79) as the hosts deservedly won a scrappy game in the rain.
It’s a result and display which brings everyone crashing back down to earth four days on from a 6-0 home thrashing of Doncaster Rovers.
When it was put to Cook that it had been a disappointing day at the office, he replied: “That’s an understatement. We didn’t turn up! We just didn’t turn up!
“Apart from Macauley Bonne, with another outstanding finish, I don’t think we had a player, possibly (Janoi) Donacien, maybe, who came out of it with any credit.
“It was an absolutely shocking performance. I didn’t see it coming.
“I thought we took the lead against the run of play. Accrington had so much more hunger and desire, which I knew they’d have, and you’d expect our quality to come through. At no point in the game did that happen.
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“Football’s a funny game. Just the minute you think you’re starting to do something well... it bites you.
“Today we had to match Accrington, which we didn’t do. We had to run harder than them, we had to work harder than them and we never did.
“You can debate the tactics, the formations, the players, but if you don’t win individual battles you don’t win a game. And we didn’t win many today on that pitch.”
Town remain 19th in the League One table with the gap to the play-off places growing to nine points.
This was a gutsy win by Stanley seeing as they had leaked 12 goals in their previous three matches.
“If we’d have left today with a point you’d be going home happy because you’d probably think we’d pinched a point away from home,” said Cook.
“Accrington have travelled, they’ve been to Morecambe and Oxford, and they ran every blade of grass today. They were on every second ball, they were hungry, they were off the front foot and unfortunately for us we went under.
“That’s a horrible thing to say as a manager.”
He continued: “We thought we had some momentum. Three games unbeaten, hadn’t conceded many goals... To be fair, there were no chances in the game today. It wasn’t a great spectacle; it wasn’t a great game of football. But Accrington deserved to win, make no bones about it.”
Asked if this was a wake-up call for everyone, Cook said: “It has to be! It’s hard for me because I’ll never make excuses for players. I’m not like that.
“We’re screaming for consistency from players. We want to know what we’re going to get.
“Today we lost battles with players that I wouldn’t expect players to lose. That’s what’s really, really disappointing.”
On Town’s 846 travelling fans, many of whom got soaked in the uncovered away terracing behind one goal, the Blues boss said: “The supporters are great, they’re amazing. They always travel. They’ve had false dawns, they’ve had disappointments. That’s part of the journey.
“Today, we were really, really disappointing. That’s poor from myself, the staff, the players.
“Especially when we’ve offered so much. We’ve opened teams up, we’ve got good players, but I didn’t feel we worked hard enough in the game today.
“Our players will be under no illusions that’s not acceptable.”
Asked if he will be bringing them in for extra training this week, Cook said: “No, I’m not like that. I won’t be threatening them. Football is about habits and repetition.
“We never took control of the game today. At no point did you feel ‘now’s our chance, we’re in the ascendancy’. We huffed and we puffed and we faded.
“It kills me, but that’s footy. I’m experienced. I know it takes you up and down.
“After half-time, if we’d have managed 10-15 minutes, you’re thinking our subs can come on and influence the game. We end up then making subs that we weren’t planning on making because the game’s just going away from us. It shouldn’t have done that.
“On the flip side of that, you must credit Accrington. They were very, very good today. They showed to everyone how hard a place it is to come. All credit to John and his players.”
He added: “Today’s disappointing because we just wanted to keep our momentum going and keep moving forwards. We’ve taken a step back now where realistically we hoped to take a step forward.
“You’ve got to let your disappointment sink in.
“As I say, I never saw this coming. I really expected us to play well today. I’m not saying I thought we’d win, but I thought people would enjoy watching us play. I didn’t enjoy watching us play that’s for sure.”
Is today a reminder that you have to earn the right to play good football – especially at this level?
“You guys know,” said Cook. “It’s football. We knew what we were going to walk into today. The lads were under no illusions what it was going to be like.
“But we never won a second ball. We never won a battle. We were playing in the wrong areas of the pitch. Every bad decision you could make we made. And that’s what you get.
“It’s hard. We were on a little three-game run where we looked defensively strong. I don’t think we looked defensively weak today, if I’m truthful, but we just never looked good in the game. That’s the thing that hurts the most.”