Cook proud of players after Town hold on for elusive first win
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook wants his side to kick on now after they ground out a 1-0 victory at Lincoln City this afternoon.
The Blues deservedly led 1-0 at the break, courtesy of Macauley Bonne's powerful header, but were then on the back foot for the majority of the second period.
Cook's men saw out seven minutes of stoppage-time though to pick up their first win of the season at the ninth attempt across all competitions and move up to 19th in the League One table.
The final whistle brought a roar of relief from the 1,710 away fans at Sincil Bank, with chief executive Mark Ashton going over to whip them up further with a flurry of impassioned fist-pumps and high fives.
"If a game could have taken a pattern for us, I don’t think it could have taken a better pattern," said Cook.
“To get a clean sheet and a win away from home, at a place where most people probably thought we’d get beat today, I’m delighted.
“We conceded five goals last weekend (at home to Bolton), could have conceded seven, and we looked soft. But we didn’t play anything like that today that’s for sure.
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“That shows you what training ground work, match analysis, repetition and belief can do.
“Our lads have worked on distances, solidity, trusting your team mates. Today they knew where each other would be and backed each other up 100%.
“If we can build that solid platform, everyone knows we’ve got goals in the team. We’ve got goals in that team 100%. Have we got clean sheets? Well we’ve got one today at one of the toughest grounds in the division. That’s a small platform to move forwards.
“Michael Appleton is a really good coach. He has them set up in a way where they test you. We stood up to the test all day today. I’m so proud of the players and I’m really pleased for the supporters.
“We just want to make those supporters happy. Now we’ve got to make sure we follow that up next week against Sheffield Wednesday (at home).
“We’ve got that elusive win now that will give us a platform to go on. We’ve only played seven league games. Seven! And we’ve got 39 to go. If we can play like we did in the first half for longer, the reality is we’ll be okay."
Cook added: “It’s been a tough couple of weeks, with my dad passing away. I don’t want to go into all that. I'm just really pleased now to be going to see my family. I haven’t been home to see them since my father passed away.
“I’m just pleased for everyone. You see Mark Ashton and Michael O’Leary at the end of the game, all our staff. It means so much to us all."
The Blues boss continued: “The new word in football is ‘transition’. We’ve been hopeless at it. Today, we didn’t get involved in transition. Today we were built off a solid base. Going forward we want to be more expansive than we were today, but solidity can see you home at times and it did today.
“Christian (Walton) got injured yesterday. He went over on his adductor, which is just us at the minute. Hayden Coulson goes off, which is also just us.
“But you just keep going though. You can’t show signs of weakness in this game.
“Vas (Hladky) came in today, having had a tough start, and he was magnificent.
“If you look at Rekeem Harper coming on and playing higher up the pitch (as a No.10), we’ve probably been playing him in the wrong position for a few games haven’t we? These are the things we are learning as a team.
“Scotty Fraser put in an amazing shift on that (left) side, Wes Burns (on the right) too.
“Obviously when Cameron Burgess had to go across to left-back (Luke Woolfenden replacing the injured Coulson) we had a problem on that side of the pitch because Cameron is not going to join in attack, he’s going to stay at home, which will invite pressure.
“I probably took Bersant (Celina) off maybe 10 minutes before I would have liked, but we had to plug that gap on that side.
“We should, away from home, be taking off three of our front four to keep the fight up at the top end of the pitch. That’s how we want to be as a team.
“If you look at our subs at the minute they are always full-backs and other players."
On Janoi Donacien, who kept Lincoln danger man Anthony Scully quiet, Cook said: “He was unbelievable today. He had a job to do today and he did it with aplomb. He’s a fantastic professional, a great lad. The harmony in the dressing room has been first class, albeit a bit quiet and new. I’ve just left that dressing room absolutely bouncing. It’s great to see.
“I’m a loyal manager, I don’t like leaving people out, but at the minute we’re tweaking to see who fits the best slots.
“We’ve looked at all our players over the first 5/6 games and gone ‘uh’, ‘uh’, ‘uh’. Today you’ll be writing positive comments about them. People will be speaking well about the team and their work ethic and their quality. Now we want more of that."
With Imps boss Michael Appleton claiming that Bonne had pushed TJ Eyoma when scoring his header, Cook said: “Tell Michael I’ve been unhappy for six weeks! Macauley Bonne is just an outstanding striker, isn’t he? To be an Ipswich lad and producing what he is means he always deserves a special mention.
“More of it please Macauley. More of it please from everyone at the cub. Let’s keep sending our supporters home happy like we did today.
"To win 1-0 was great. I would have liked 2-0 if I’m honest with you, just to settle my nerves!
"Football’s tough, isn’t it? In my managerial career I’ve had a lot more ups than downs. Latterly has probably been the most consistent downs I’ve had in my time. I’ve got no credits at this club with supporters. At Wigan, when we had bad runs, I had credits. With our fans today I think we’ve made a tiny step with them seeing what Paul Cook sides are about.
"We had desire in us today. We desperately wanted to win. We’ve got to show that every week."