'We have to wake up before the horse has bolted' - Lambert on 2-0 home loss to Portsmouth

Paul Lambert, pictured during Ipswich Town's loss to Portsmouth

Paul Lambert, pictured during Ipswich Town's loss to Portsmouth - Credit: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert said his players need to 'wake up before the horse has bolted' following this afternoon's 2-0 home loss to Portsmouth.

Ryan Williams scored twice in the first half, with Pompey also hitting the woodwork twice and forcing a couple of fine saves out of David Cornell.

The Blues have slipped to sixth in the League One table after claiming just 13 points from their last 11 league games, while it's now eight defeats in the last 13 games across all competitions.

"Apart from the first 15 minutes we never played well," said Lambert. "We never did enough. We didn't do the basics.

"We desperately need players back (from injuries), but we can't hide behind that performance. It wasn't good enough.

"I just thought our intensity wasn't there. There was an acceptance. They need that little nasty streak in them.

"It was too slow. We lacked intensity with and without the ball. If you don't have that, you don't win a game of football.

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"For the goals we never matched runners.

"It doesn't matter who you are playing against, you have to earn the right to play football. If you think you can just turn up and things are going to happen... You have to do the ugly side of the game. And by that I mean being aggressive, being intense, being so hyped up in your own self and taking responsibility in your own game. If you don't do that you're aren't going to win many games."

Asked if, therefore, there had been harsh words said in the dressing room afterwards, Lambert replied: "Aye, to an extent. Listen, we need players back as well. It's important we get them back. Yes there were some harsh words, but common sense words with it. But we never deserved to win."

Last season, Town claimed just 15 points from a possible 54 against sides that finished in the top 10. This season, that trend has continued. It's now three points claimed from a possible 21 against sides currently in the top 10.

"Absolutely we have to beat the top guys. We have to beat the top teams. We have to," said Lambert, when those stats were put to him.

"We have to get our big players back. We're going to need a magic wand somewhere to get those guys back. Bishop, Downes, Skuse... We need that engine room back. But at the minute it's not coming back any time soon.

"We need the guys back. You see Portsmouth, it's a team of men. We've got young lads in there, and that will bode well for the future, but at the minute it's hard for them. They need a bit of help. When the guys start coming back it's a different situation.

Is there a concern that this season is going to slip away just like last season?

"We can't let that happen," said Lambert. "There have been harsh words in the dressing room on that side of it. You cannot let it tail off, because there are so many games to play. You get the bigger ones back and crack on, but you cannot turn up and think you're going to win a game  of football playing like that.

"Everybody knows. Everybody hears things and knows what's going on. And sometimes you need that. You definitely need that.

"Before you wake up and the horse has bolted you have to realise what you're involved in."

This was the first time that fans had been inside Portman Road since March 7 and a sizeable number of the 2,000 in attendance let their frustrations be known at both the half-time and full-time whistles.

"Listen, everybody pays a lot of money," said Lambert. "Given what's happened with the pandemic, you can't grumble. Because we lose. We don't play well. You can't grumble. You just have to get on with it and move on to the next game (Burton at home on Tusday night).

"It's not nice for anybody, but that's football. Imagine if it was a full house. That would be a little bit different. Or if we were playing in front of 60 or 70 thousand people. Then it's who's got the biggest cojones as I call it.

"We've got another game on Tuesday night, but I tell you what, if we play like that again we'll lose again. That's the reality of it. Hopefully everybody regroups and we get one or two back. I don't know if they'll be ready though."

There were also boos when Lambert made a double substitution just after the hour mark, taking off Kayden Jackson and sticking with one up front.

"Kayden, as I've said, we've got to really watch him," said Lambert. "He's missed a hell of a lot of games and we cannot afford another injury. 

"Aaron (Drinan) had hurt himself the other week, so we've got to watch him. Oli (Hawkins) hasn't played a lot of games and James (Norwood)  is obviously out. Young Tyreece (Simpson) is out injured.

"We put Aaron on. Dobs I thought was playing well anyway. I thought Aaron needed a bit of game time. Oli came on... It's just what we think is the right thing to do."

It was then put to Lambert that fans' frustrations stemmed from him not switching to two up front in a game his side were chasing. The Blues boss said recently that he thinks his side are 'useless' at playing with two up top though.

"They wanted two up front, aye," said Lambert. "I don't want to go to route one though because we've got Oli up there. I don't want us to just launch it from back to front.

"That was one of the arguments when we first came in. People were saying we play 4-4-2 and we bang it up front, it's boring and it's not good football. We try and play a different way. That's the philosophy. When you change shape to 4-4-2 it can become really, really ragged. That's why Aaron came on."

Jon Nolan became the latest player to limp out of a game for Town in the first half.

"I don't know if it's his calf or hip or how bad it is. We just have to wait and see," said Lambert.

On Armando Dobra, he said: "I thought he done really well. Energy and tenacity... all those sort of things. I thought he was one of the bright sparks.

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