‘Positives to take but at 2-0 up you are clearly hopeful of a victory’ - Hurst on Birmingham draw
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst insisted there were positives to take despite his side letting a two-goal lead slip in their 2-2 draw at Birmingham.
Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst insisted there were positives to take despite his side letting a two-goal lead slip at Birmingham.
Jon Nolan and Matthew Pennington put the Blues 2-0 up at the break, only for Lukas Jutkiewicz to score twice in the second half to deny Hurst his first win as Ipswich boss.
“You’ve heard it many times, 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline,” Hurst said after the game. “We knew that they’d come on and try and push forward.
“Ironically, I think we did start the second half well for a couple of minutes and it looked like we weren’t just going to sit back, which is always a danger.
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“But we conceded from their first attack of the second half. Jota’s picked up an area, we’d spoken about that, we don’t get round on the cover well enough and it’s a well-timed ball and he takes it well.
“And then you know you’re going to have to ride it out. I thought we did that and then the second goal we’re disappointed with, it’s a mistake and we were punished.
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“But at that stage the crowd are really up, I think they had an attack pretty much straight after and the game was really to-ing and fro-ing but we weren’t just settling for a point.
“In the end, after the sending off, we happily take the point, although we still had a break with Freddie and won the corner.
“Positives to take, there are, but stood in there at half-time 2-0 up, you’re clearly hopeful of getting that victory.”
Jota’s free-kicks caused trouble all afternoon, with Hurst admitting goalkeeper Dean Gerken had struggled with the sun when he came to punch the Spaniard’s delivery, which led to Birmingham’s equaliser.
“You can see Gerks is struggling with the sun, you can see that clearly back on the video, but unfortunately at times that’s what goalkeepers have to deal with.”
“It is, but I have seen a lots of Birmingham and they are a big threat and they did look a threat today but at the same time I thought we defended quite a few of them pretty well,” he added.
“They’re always going to win some headers, we cleared one off the line and they hit the post but we put bodies on the line.
“Even that one, I thought we’d got away with it and I don’t think it could have gone anywhere else except where it did, but it did.
“Then it was a case of what was going to happen next and thankfully we stood strong and still had a threat.
“Freddie Sears has looked sharp all week, I said that in the press conference and I thought he was going to get his reward but it was just behind him and just clipped his heel rather than his side foot which would have put us in front.”
Hurst insisted he had no issues regarding the award of the free-kick which led to Jutkiewicz’s equaliser despite Danish defender Jonas Knudsen protesting his innocence regarding a perceived high foot.
“No, it looks high,” he said. “I think there was one in the first half where the lad’s done a diving header and play was pulled up. I think it might even have been below my head height so I’m not sure that would have been a freekick.
“I think Jonas is perhaps a bit naive and I’m not sure he quite saw the player behind him, so that’s a frustration.”
On the mood in the dressing room, Hurst said: “There’s some deflated people in there in one sense. But, and I know it wasn’t for a really long period, but then we went down to 10 men and I think the players in some ways see that as well.
“The bombardment with the free-kicks and things, we stood up to it, some last-ditch defending admittedly but we’ve said, ‘Yes, be frustrated, but at the same time that’s three games in a row that we’ve drawn, our best little run and there were some pleasing aspects of the performance’.”
“We speak to the players and the message is to keep going,” he said, when asked about the mood in the camp. “You need strong characters, naturally.
“I thought we started the game nervously but as soon as we put our first bit of passing together that seemed to give the players confidence.
“I’ve watched a lot of Birmingham and I think as soon as we understood we could pass the ball without them pressing us too intently we settled down into the game.
“We scored a first goal, there were a few things within it that are exactly what we’re looking for. Then, ironically for what threat they’ve carried at set plays, we scored ourselves.
“It’s more frustration, I don’t get the impression - and I know people might look and say, ‘You’re 2-0 up and you still don’t win a game’ and I get that - but I don’t think that’s having an impact on the players not wanting the ball and working hard.
“So hopefully, and we’ll need that on Tuesday night playing against a Middlesbrough team with vast experience, again another team that carry a massive threat from set plays with the size of some of their players.”
The Blues have now reached the 10-game mark without winning but picking up six draws, with Hurst admitting now is a fair time to judge his team.
“I think you’ve got to make a judgement. There’s things I know myself that need to happen.
“And hopefully will in time but at the same time, we haven’t lost as many games as some others have.
“The flip side again, you can look at it two ways, it’s another game where we’ve had to withstand some pressure at different points, but I don’t think the team are easily beaten and we’re competitive, which you’ve got to be. That’s this league, we know that.
“So we’re not still quite in the place that we want to be, but if you look maybe at the team that’s slipped below us today (Millwall), look at where they were last season.
“That just highlights the challenge of the league again. You can’t take anything for granted, we know we’ve changed some things around and maybe there are a few things that don’t feel like they’re going for us. But you can’t feel sorry for yourself, you get on with your job and keep working hard.”