'We're disappointed and frustrated' - McKenna on Cheltenham draw
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna knows that tonight's 0-0 home draw with Cheltenham Town was a case of 'two points dropped'.
The Blues spurned several good chances to take the lead during a dominant first half display, then saw their levels drop during a flat and frustrating second period which ultimately ended with the stubborn visitors running down the clock.
"It's a disappointed, frustrated dressing room," said McKenna, whose team remain ninth and four points adrift of the League One play-off places.
"In the first half it was a very good performance. We put them under really good pressure, created enough chances to go in one or two-nil at the interval, but it doesn't happen and then the frustration grows and you end up not getting the three points that we wanted and probably deserved.
"It can happen over the course of a season, but with the position we're in everything is amplified a little bit. The need to win our home games is amplified. One point is rarely going to be enough for us.
"We're disappointed. It's two points dropped and we have to recover quickly and make sure we're ready for Morecambe (away on Saturday). We'll have to try and catch those points up further down the line."
The Blues boss, whose side have now kept eight clean sheets during his 11 games in charge, continued: "I thought first half was comfortably our best performance in a home game in my time here by a fair way. We didn't quite manage to match that in the second half. There were different factors.
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"I think, mentally, getting in at half-time nil-nil was a big boost to them with how the game had gone. To be fair they then improved second half.
"I thought there was fatigue in some of our key positions. The players have worked ever so hard and I thought we looked tired. It was a quick turnaround for this game, but it's the same for all teams and there's no excise. But I thought there was some fatigue in some positions where we rely on real high energy.
"They managed to break the game up really well. There were injuries, there were stoppages, there wasn't much flow in the game. First half we managed to keep the ball in play almost the whole time and we were able to find a rhythm. Second half they were able to break the game up better, make it a bit more scrappy and as the half went on we got sucked into that more and more. In the last 15/20 minutes we went away from how we'd been creating chances in the first half.
"Look, we'll learn from this as a group. There are certainly things in that first half that show we are improving our game. Normally we would expect to be at least a goal to the good off of that, but we weren't. We'll look back at the play when we were trying to chase a goal at the end. That's something we can definitely improve on."
On the value of a point, McKenna said: "I said this after MK - draws aren't something we're really interested in with the position we're in. We need to go for three points. We brought on another attacker to be close to Macauley (Bonne) and, to be fair, Joe (Pigott) had a couple of big moments in the box that we weren't able to take. On another day we could probably have had a goal in that second half too.
"We tried to chase the game, that opened us up a bit and they had some moments as well. On a really, really bad day we could end up losing that game. We didn't lose, it's another clean sheet, there are things to improve and we move on to the next game."
On fifth successive clean sheet, he said: "It's not much consolation to me at the moment. We wanted the three points, so I'd rather have won 4-3.
"I think anyone who watched that first half can see a team improving and playing at a really, really high level. It's hard for teams to get chances against us when we play as well as we did in the first half with the ball.
"Usually, on the balance of chances, we score a goal tonight. We didn't manage to though, it ends up with a 0-0 and we don't take too much satisfaction from that."
Meanwhile, McKenna explained the absence of midfielder Lee Evans.
"He picked a knee injury up at the end of the Burton game and unfortunately he's going to be out a few weeks," said the Blues boss.
"It's nothing majorly serious but he's going to miss a few weeks and it's a blow for us. He's missed a couple of different games for a couple of different reasons and I thought his performance on Saturday was outstanding.
"He does give us a different balance to the team, but we have good players to come in, probably not of the same profile of Lee, but it's up to us to find the right balance now for the games going forwards."