'Concentration is massive' - McKenna on Town's 2-0 Bolton loss

Kieran McKenna applauds the travelling fans at Bolton Wanderers.

Kieran McKenna applauds the travelling fans at Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna was left frustrated by two poor goals which saw his side beaten for the first time at Bolton. 

Kieran Lee and Dapo Afolayan struck in the second-half as Bolton inflicted McKenna’s first loss as Town boss, on an afternoon where the Blues had the bulk of possession but struggled to create chances. 

Both Bolton goals were sloppy on Town’s part, with McKenna satisfied with his team’s performance away from those ‘moments’ on an afternoon where the Ipswich boss felt his side controlled the contest. 

“We didn’t hit the heights of last week, but I didn’t think it was a bad performance and there were elements of the game we were pleased with,” he said. 

Ipswich players appeal to the referee after Kieran Lee had put the home side ahead at Bolton Wandere

Ipswich players appeal to the referee after Kieran Lee had put the home side ahead at Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“I thought we started well and in the first 20 or 25 minutes I thought we controlled the game. Probably the worst part of it was the end of the first half and, in that spell, I think we went away from what we’d done well and became a bit random and scatty. 

“We went away from the principles which have worked well for us in the last couple of weeks, so that is what we spoke about at half-time. 

“We made a couple of changes from a tactical point of view and I thought we controlled the whole game, really. We didn’t create enough in the final third but got up to the edge of their box a lot, playing almost the whole game in their half. 

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“But we didn’t make enough chances and didn’t penetrate a lot. We had momentum and pressure but we didn’t create enough. 

“If you do that then the game’s still open and then it’s two poor goals conceded out of nothing, in terms of the momentum of the game, and we go home empty-handed and disappointed.” 

Town allowed Bolton to advance to the edge of their box before switching off as Christian Walton spilled Aaron Morley’s shot into the path of Lee, before George Edmundson left a back-pass well-short, allowing Afolayan to slam home the second. 

“When you have a game like that, concentration is massive,” McKenna said, reflecting on the goals. 

“I thought the game was there for us and we were building pressure and starting to get chances. That’s when you need to be at your most focussed and understand you are vulnerable when you have momentum. 

“We didn’t manage to remain concentrated and the first goal was massive. Then we’re chasing the game and it’s hard to come back from a mistake for the second goal. 

“Everybody’s gutted,” McKenna continued. 

“I didn’t think there were major problems with the mentality and mindset today and the boys prepared well. Their mentality is good in the game. 

“We had a few tactical issues at the end of the first half and, apart from that, there weren’t too many issues. 

“The mistake for the (second) goal (by Edmundson) was tough and it’s something we learn from. We certainly don’t chastise anyone for mistakes but, at the same time, we don’t shrug it off and we look at the situation to understand what we can do better. 

“We want to make better decisions and better execution next time.” 

Bolton boss Ian Evatt moved away from his usual 4-2-3-1 system to something closer to 5-3-2 in this game, with McKenna insisting this match wasn't won or lost on the tactics board. 

“They played a bit of a different system today with more of a back five, which is a bit of a change from what they’ve been doing in the last few weeks,” he said. “Maybe that was a response to our positive performance last week (at Gillingham) in some way? 

“It’s something we might encounter a little more. They were a bit different tactically but they looked to build up from the back and looked to press us like we expected them to do. 

“It wasn’t that which cost us the game because we pressed better, built up better and got the ball around the edge of their box better. In the end they scored off two poor moments from our point of view. 

“I thought we imposed ourselves well in the game but the moments cost us.”