‘They gave me absolutely everything’ - Lambert’s pride as Ipswich draw in new boss’s opener
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Paul Lambert insisted he was proud of his players and the Ipswich Town supporters following his side’s 1-1 draw with Preston this afternoon.
The new Ipswich boss spoke of playing high-tempo, high-intensity football at his unveiling earlier this week and that was in evidence against North End, with the Blues putting in a much-improved display in front of their home crowd.
They weren’t able to take three points, as Paul Gallagher equalised Freddie Sears’ penalty, but Lambert was proud of the way his players performed in their first game under his management.
“It was brilliant, the excitement was unbelievable. It was great, I loved it,” he said.
“The atmosphere was great and I thought we were the better team. We started really well and I couldn’t ask anything more from them. They gave me absolutely everything.
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“That (not getting a win from a good performance) happens at times and that’s why it’s a great game. Sometimes you don’t play well and get the win and then others you don’t and you get the result.
“I’m very proud and the big thing for me is the supporters. If you can get the crowd going then that’s great and I’m pretty sure that was much more exciting than it has been for a while here.
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“A million per cent,” he continued, when asked if performances like today’s can bring wins in the Championship.
“If Ipswich had been playing like that since the start of the season then I wouldn’t be sitting talking to you. That’s the reality.
“We didn’t get the winner but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. We gave a hell of an account of ourselves.”
Lambert insisted there were no Ipswich players to blame for Gallagher’s equaliser, which flew round the wall following the forward’s strike from the edge of the box. Gallagher ended the game in goal after Preston stopper Chris Maxwell was shown a second yellow card at a time when North End had used all three substitutes.
“Paul Gallagher is renowned for his set plays, they’re really good, and Bart’s (Bartosz Bialkowski) not had one save to make the whole game.
“I didn’t see how far away the free-kick was but there’s no blame attached to any player whatsoever.”
There was a surprise on the team-sheet as Lambert opted to start Jordan Roberts, whose Ipswich career consisted of 23 minutes as a substitute prior to this afternoon’s game as his central striker. But the Blues boss was impressed with how the former Crawley man went about his business.
He said: “I picked him because I thought we maybe needed a focal point up top and I thought the lad was unbelievable to come in like that for his first game. I thought he was outstanding.
“Not just him, either. The front three (Roberts, Freddie Sears and Gwion Edwards) pressed the way I asked them to press and the whole team played well. You could sense it in the atmosphere.
“With Jordan, everyone knows he was very good.”
Lambert also reserved praise for young midfielder Flynn Downes, who put in his best display of the season on an afternoon where he took on set-piece duty.
“He’s a good player, very good,” he said.
“A young kid with a huge future ahead of him and he could have another 25 years in the game I think.
“We’ll see if he can keep doing that for 25 years.
“I’ve been here since Sunday and I couldn’t have asked any more from the way they’ve trained, the way they’ve gone about the job and taken on all the information we’ve given to them.
“We’ve only had a few days with them and the best part of the season is pre-season, I guess. We’ve come in here in November to work.
“We want them to enjoy it and I’m pretty sure if you asked any of the lads they will tell you they enjoyed it.
“Every game is a big game for us and I’d rather have that every week than not have big games.”
The Blues remain bottom of the table, with victories for Hull, Reading and Rotherham conspiring to leave Ipswich five points adrift at the foot of the second tier ahead of next weekend’s visit to Reading.
“I look at one game at a time and move along with it,” he said.
“I won’t be downbeat and we’ll keep going. The most important thing is this football club and keeping going, that’s the most important thing.
“You heard the atmosphere today and I’m sure people have come away from here in the past thinking ‘there wasn’t much of an atmosphere’. But nobody can say that this afternoon.
“I watched the Middlesbrough game here on television and I don’t think the fans even booed, I think there’s an apathy there and you need to kick-start it. You have to start somewhere.
“Whatever happens outside we want the fans to come in here and enjoy it, but we have to give them something. We need the fans to get behind us and if they see performances like that they’ll go with it.”