MANAGER’S REACTION: Our best overall performance this season, says Paul Jewell

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell says his side produced their best performance of the season in tonight’s 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City.

The Suffolk side dominated for large spells against the fourth-placed visitors.

And despite being dealt a sucker punch in first half injury-time when Chris Burke converted the Midlands side’s first shot on goal, the hosts deservedly levelled through substitute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in an entertaining second period played under a torrential downpour.

“I thought we played really, really well,” said Jewell. “Over the whole game I think that’s as well as we’ve played all season.

“The only thing missing was the end product and goals, but we put on a really good spectacle and passed the ball really well.

“I thought the whole team was excellent from start to finish. You could see they were enjoying themselves out there and we showed a bit of character to come back from a goal down as well.”

Ipswich have now lost only three times in the last 17 games, taking points off six of the Championship’s top eight teams in 2012.

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“I think we have made progress,” said Jewell. “You can make stats look how you want, but over the last 17 games we’ve been competitive in pretty much all of them.

“We lost to Brighton, Leicester and Watford, but overall we’ve toughened up. Earlier on we were a bit of a soft touch, but we’re mentally stronger now and you can see the confidence flowing through the team.”

He added: “I think their fans were singing ‘one shot and we’ve scored a goal’, but I said to my players at half-time ‘just keep playing the way you are’.

“We started the first five minutes of the second half a little bit slowly, but after that I think we dominated. Although they were dangerous on the break, I thought we deserved a little bit of luck for the goal.

“Jay (Emmanuel-Thomas) had an impact when he came on. When he’s like that he’s a really difficult opponent. He gets you off your feet and has unbelievable natural talent – we just need to make sure we nurture that.”

And speaking of Aaron Cresswell’s late goalline clearance, Jewell said: “He must have done that three or four times for us this season. I think he’s been terrific for us – he never gives up.”

– See tomorrow’s EADT and Ipswich Star for full match reports.