'It's an important win' - McKenna on 2-1 victory against Accrington
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says this afternoon's come-from-behind 2-1 home victory against Accrington Stanley was 'an important win'.
Ethan Hamilton fired the visitors ahead after 15 minutes, but Wes Burns finished off a fine Bersant Celina through ball to level things up before the break and then Conor Chaplin crashed home a 65th minute winner.
Town, who have now won three of McKenna's first four games in charge, move up to ninth in the League One table but remain eight points adrift of the play-off places.
"It was an important win, yeah," said McKenna. "Honestly, I'm not looking too much at gaps and points and positions, but it was an important win for momentum and for the learning of the group.
"Obviously we had a set-back last week (losing 2-0 at Bolton). It wasn't a bad performance, but it was a set-back with the result.
"We've spoken a lot this week about different phases of the game and how we manage games from a mental point of view.
"We were in a really difficult circumstance, 1-0 down at home against a team who were making it really difficult for us, so to come back and, I think, deserve the 2-1 with the performance is massive for the learning and development of the group.
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"Three points are obviously very important."
Summarising the action, the Northern Irishman said: "Obviously it was a very difficult game. As we expected with Accrington, no quarter is given. You can see why they've been on such a good run.
"There were a lot of pleasing things. Probably the most pleasing thing was our response to a poor start. I'm obviously not pleased with how we started the game. But it can happen, they got two corners in the first minute and got some momentum.
"We got pinned in a little bit for the first 15 minutes and then obviously conceded, probably fair enough on the balance of play.
"The most pleasing bit was how we responded to that. We spoke a lot after Bolton about how we would be in the difficult moments, about having trust and belief in our football whenever things go against us, and I felt like we managed to do that.
"Obviously getting a goal back quickly helps.
"Then, probably from the end of the first half through the first 30 minutes of the second half we played some really good football, created some good chances and were probably good value for two goals."
Asked about Accrington's direct and physical approach, McKenna puffed his cheeks and replied: "They are very good at what they do. Obviously they have got so much height in the team, are fantastic on second balls and put you under real pressure. They know all the tricks of the trade, they buy free-kicks well, they slow the game down, they load your box.
"Obviously we had a very small team today. With Lee (Evans) dropping out (after getting injured in the warm-up) we lost more height. We had Conor (Chaplin) and Santy (Celina) coming in, who aren't those type of players.
"So we had to scrap for it. It wasn't easy, but the players competed well, we managed to stay in the physical battle and thankfully the quality of some of the football came through for the goals.
"They were two different goals. The first is a counter-attack goal with a good pass by Santy that got us using that pace we have with Wes. The second goal came after a good spell of us doing what we want to do.
"We spoke at half-time about wanting to have more passes in their half, control the game in their half more and I thought we done that at the start of the second half. That built pressure and led to what I'd call a good final third goal through good combinations and quick play on the sides. The ball came back into Conor and he's done great to shift it back on to his right and get the finish off."
McKenna freshed up his team for the first time today. James Norwood, Sone Aluko and Matt Penney all dropped out the side and they were replaced by Chaplin, Celina and Kane Vincent-Young. There was then an additional change when Lee Evans got injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Tom Carroll.
"We've got some really good options - I've said that all along," said McKenna. "Conor and Bersant are two boys who've been itching to play and training well. I felt it was important to give them an opportunity and it's great to see them both take it."
On Evans, he explained: "It's a little groin issue, I think. I've not had chance to get fully filled in by the medical team yet. It's nothing too major I don't think, but he wasn't right to start the game.
"It was a difficult situation that probably contributed to a bit of nerves and a bit of uncertainty at the start of the game.
"Credit to Tom Carroll. It's not an easy game to come into it. But he grew into the game and found his rhythm towards the end of the first half. He got on the ball, made us tick, found Conor and Bersant in little pockets off the back of their midfield and we played some good football.
"There's no doubts about Tom's quality. He's had a difficult season with injuries, but as I said yesterday I feel he's been getting sharper with every training session. He's getting back towards the levels that I've seen from him before."
On Aluko and Penney, who both dropped out the squad completely, McKenna said: "Sone and his partner had a child last night, so I'm delighted for him. He was down in London, so best wishes to them and we look forward to having him back in the group.
"Matt Penney has had a little niggle and he wasn't quite right for the game. Hopefully he'll be available in the next few days."
Town will now go to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night.
"It's nice to have Saturday-Tuesday games to be honest," said McKenna. "I'm looking forward to that. It's been great to have full weeks of training time, but we also want to get into the rhythm of games. We've worked a lot on the training pitch and we want the rhythm of playing games back-to-back now. We feel like we're ready for that and we want that."