'An extremely frustrating week' - McKenna on 1-1 draw at Morecambe

Kieran McKenna at Morecambe.

Kieran McKenna at Morecambe. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna admitted it's been a 'frustrating week', following this afternoon's 1-1 draw at Morecambe, but insisted his team's play-off hopes aren't over.

In a similar tale to Tuesday night's 0-0 home draw with Cheltenham, the Blues utterly dominated the first half against relegation-fighting opposition but weren't able to convert a series of good goalscoring chances.

Aaron Wildig then headed home Morecambe's first (and only) shot on target of the game and, though Wes Burns netted an 87th minute leveller, Town weren't able to force a late winner.

"It's an extremely frustrating result at the end of a frustrating week," said McKenna, whose ninth-place side are now five points adrift of the League One play-off places, the three teams immediately above them all having at least one game in hand.

"It's incredible that we've only scored one goal over the two games. 

"I thought it was an extremely good performance in 95% of the pitch, we did so many things well, but just not in the yards close to their goal.

"On one hand we can obviously be proud of the team in so many areas, but on the other hand, with the position we're in, we can't afford draws. We want wins and to get them we need to score more goals.

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"We created bundles of opportunities again today, were excellent in all our attacking play, but we didn't convert enough.

"It's something for us to keep looking at. We don't make any rash decisions, we're constantly reflecting. I don't think it's ever one thing in football, it's a very complex game.

"There were probably a few games early in my tenure where I thought our penetration wasn't good enough and the players were adapting to our style of play, but I don't think that's been the case lately.

"I think we're playing to a really, really high level. I don't think there are many, if any, other teams in this league, or even in the league above, who could perform better than that on that pitch. Especially in the first half with the quality of our play.

"But it's happened too many times where we haven't turned that into goals. It's something we'll keep looking at and working on. It's something we need to improve."

He added: "In terms of points this week has been a blow, but we could very, very, very easily be sitting here off the back of two wins. We should be. But we're not.

"We're a long way behind. This is probably the week where some teams or people on the outside think there's now too much for us to do, but I think within the group that's not the mindset. Straight away our mindset flips to Fleetwood (away next Saturday) and trying to put in another performance like today but with that extra little bit to get the result."

With Ipswich having had 22 shots on goal, and having 72% possession, the Northern Irishman continued: "All the forwards here have proven over the course of their careers that they can score goals. Look, people have spells individually. Teams have spells. This is just our spell.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem for us over the course of my time here. I'm as confident as I can be, really, that we're going to score a lot of goals as long as we keep developing and improving as we are.

"I don't think we're far away from scoring four or five in a game, I really don't.

"It's a spell we're going through at the moment. It's a little bit unusual, but it can happen to better teams than us. It's our little spell this week and in a couple of games previously, but we have the quality in the building to score more goals. I know as a team we'll keep improving our collective attacking quality to create more opportunities."

With Janoi Donacien going close to snatching a late winner for the Blues, McKenna said: "That probably summed it up. We had our right-sided centre-back in the box flushed onto a cross from maybe five/six yards out, he meets it full and it hits the goalkeeper.

"If that goes in we're saying 'two goals, a fantastic performance, proud of the players and a great result'.

"That summed up our intent. We kept attacking to the end, showed great spirit after conceding, got a goal back and kept pushing for the winner.

"In so many things I can't ask for to much more. The players are just as frustrated as the staff and I'm sure the supporters are. But it's not through a lack of will or effort. I'm sure that we'll get there."

With Burns scoring his 10th of the campaign, McKenna said: "It's a good finish. Credit to him. He got in the box. It was one of those situations that we had bundles of in the game with the ball popping around in the box. When they have so many bodies in front of the ball it's not always going to be clean, you're not always going to convert with the first touch on the cross and you just have to find a way to get that inch and get your shot off. He did that low and across the goalkeeper.

"It was good to get the goal back. A draw is disappointing, but a defeat would have been entirely unjust.

"A draw is not what we wanted, but it's something to take home."

With Macauley Bonne having headed two golden headed chances wide of the post in the first half, McKenna said: "He's the same as everyone in the dressing room. He's disappointed, but it's not an individual thing. We defend as a team and we attack as a team. Obviously it's great when strikers can chip in with goals, but it's a collective thing.

"Obviously he was on the end of a couple of good chances today. You have to be there to miss them. That's more than half the battle usually for someone who is a good finisher. Look, he's passionate about the club, passionate about helping the team and I'm sure he'll keep chipping away in training and keep doing his best for the team."

Asked if he was a believer that good performances ultimately lead to good results over a period of time, the Blues boss replied: "Look, it's not a day to think about the medium or longer-term develop of the team, because the disappointment of not getting a win is the overriding emotion, but over the course of a couple of months I think the development of the team has been fantastic.

"Like I've said, bearing in mind the condition of the pitch today I thought some of our football was outstanding.

"Performances over time breed results. We've had a higher expected goals number than the opposition in almost every game we've played. Over the course of time, if you keep having better chances than the opposition then you're going to score more goals than them more often and you're going to win more games than them.

"We'll keep trying to develop performances, keep trying to develop individuals, keep trying to develop the team and I'm sure if we keep going in this direction then I think the club is heading for a positive future."