'We can't get ahead of ourselves' - McKenna on 4-0 win at Gillingham

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna at Gillingham.

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna was delighted by his team's dominant 4-0 win at Gillingham this afternoon, but says there is still a lot of work to do if the Blues are to get themselves in the promotion mix.

McKenna became the first Blues boss since Roy Keane to win his opening two games in charge as the festive 1-0 home win against Wycombe was followed up with a very impressive display at Priestfield.

James Norwood, Wes Burns and Macauley Bonne all netted inside the opening 23 minutes, Conor Chaplin adding a fourth late on from the penalty spot, as Town moved up to 10th in the League One table and closed the gap to the play-off places to eight points.

“We’ve got some good momentum behind us now," said McKenna. “It doesn’t always come off as well as it did today, but when it does come off we have to enjoy it. 

"We honestly haven't spoken to the players about points totals or play-offs or positions in the league.

"That's what fans do and that's great. Hopefully we give them something to believe in. You want fans to be believe and be excited about the team and the direction you're going.

Kieran McKenna on the touchline at Gillingham.

Kieran McKenna on the touchline at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

"But we can't look at it like that as a group. We're a long way off in terms of points and wins on the board. We've only had a couple of good results, so it's much too early to get ahead of ourselves and think about where we might finish in the league.

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"The big focus is just on trying to improve performances in training and in games. If we do that then we'll get wins and if we get wins then we'll see where we're at in a couple of months time.

He continued: “Every game is different. This gives us three points, it gives us some more confidence, but next week (at Bolton) a completely different type of game. Tactically it will be very different.  

“Gillingham were quite man-to-man again today (like Wycombe), which opens up some spaces that you don’t always get and we exploited that really well. But we know Bolton are a completely different type of challenge, a really good footballing team. 

“What we’ve done here today gives us confidence but it doesn’t give us any right to think next week is going to be any easier."

Kieran McKenna applauds his players at Gillingham.

Kieran McKenna applauds his players at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Reflecting on the game, the Blues boss said: “It’s a really pleasing performance. First of all I thought our intensity, our aggression and our organisation off the ball was really, really good. That leads to another clean sheet, which is a big positive. 

“And yeah, the quality of our football right through the game was a really high level. Obviously we’ve scored three fantastic goals.  

“We wanted an intense start, we wanted to impose ourselves on the game and we managed to do that. It led to some early goals and gave us a good platform to be confident and comfortable on the ball. That made it an enjoyable game. 

“We said we wanted to control the game for longer than we did in the Wycombe game and we certainly managed to do that.  

“There are positives to reflect on and also areas to improve. We’ve already spoken about things we can do better and need to do better.  

“I wasn’t happy with the end of the first half and we made that clear to the players at half-time. They weren’t happy either, to be honest. 

“I thought after a fantastic 30 minutes we got a little bit sloppy, we invited pressure, we gave away free-kicks and too many easy balls that ended up with pressure around our goal. 

“The message at half-time was that we had to take the game as if it was 0-0 and we wanted to win the second half. We have to be relentless with our details and mentality to keep the opposition away from our goal.  

“I thought the mentality and attitude in the second half was really good. We could have been a little bit more clinical, had better decision-making in and around the box at times and had some more goals, but I was pleased with how they went about their business in the second half and pleased with how they identified things themselves at half-time. 

“They weren’t happy to allow the game to peter out or let it become a sloppy performance."

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