'The fans got us over the line' - McKenna on 1-0 win v Wycombe
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna has praised the club's fans for getting tonight's 1-0 home win against Wycombe Wanderers over the line.
New boss McKenna was given a rousing reception for his first game in charge, a Portman Road crowd of 26,456 then getting right behind the team as they defended James Norwood's opener netted just before half-time.
“It was fantastic," said the Northern Irishman. "A big thank you to everyone who has received us so well and come here and supported us so well tonight. It’s an amazing club for sure. To have a turn out like this in the Christmas period in the pandemic is a credit to the fan base. It wasn’t just the fact they were here, they were really here with the team. Especially in the second half, in those difficult moments when the boys were tired, they gave them an extra boost.
"The fans were a big, big part of us getting it over the line.
“This is not just a win for the players, it’s a win for the fans and the whole club. That’s how we want to move forwards."
Town's first win since the end of November keeps them within 10 points of the League One play-off places ahead of Saturday's scheduled home clash with Lincoln.
“Obviously the three points is the main thing at this stage of the season with the position that the team is in and the recent results," said McKenna.
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“There are aspects of the performance we are really happy with. We knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty game, we knew they would play direct and put balls in our box, but I thought our organisation and attitude and our resilience to defend those moments was really, really good.
“I thought we had a goal threat all night. In the first half through some good play and in the second half on the counter-attack.
“There were lots of good things, but also lots to improve. There are things we absolutely have to do better. We’ll show the players what they can improve on, but there's a base to build on over the next few games."
The Blues boss continued: "In the first 25 minutes some of our build-up shape was good. We managed to find the spare man and step out from the back with an extra defender and get up the pitch in quite a constructive way.
“We’ve spoken quite a lot about staying out of our box and squeezing higher and trying to keep the ball away from our goal. We managed to do that well. Our organisation on set-plays was good.
“We weren’t always to maintain it throughout the game, but we know if we keep showing the same attitude and work rate we’ll improve."
The only change McKenna made to the team that drew 1-1 with Sunderland 11 days earlier was enforced, Vaclav Hladky replacing the Covid-hit Christian Walton in goal.
“It wasn’t an easy selection because there have been other players who have really stepped up in training, but in the end I though the first half against Sunderland showed the base ingredients for what we require from the team – it was aggressive, it was front foot, we worked together as a team, especially off the ball," said the Blues boss.
“The players who played in that game have also trained well, so in the end we said it wasn’t right to leave any of them out.
“We tweaked a few things positionally and tactically for the game (3-4-3 instead of 3-5-2). Those things worked out well.
“Credit to the 11 that played, but there’s a strong squad and other players fighting and chomping to play. We have good competition for places and we want the players who are lucky enough and privileged enough to play for this club to realise they have to give everything they’ve got for the shirt because there’s a hungry and capable player ready to take that shirt."
On Walton's absence, McKenna said: "Cameron Burgess is also off with illness. We’ve had a few cases, as everyone has in the country, but thankfully no major outbreak. Hopefully we can keep the cases low and everyone can stay as safe as possible over the next few weeks."
Town are due to host Lincoln on Saturday, though the Imps called off their game tonight due to Covid.
“We want to play the game and Lincoln have been in touch to say they want to play the game as well," said McKenna. "They are saying they are keen to get it on.
“So we’ll prepare and be ready. Everything is one day at a time."