'He's part of the project' - McKenna hails Jackson after 3-0 Burton win

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna obliges the North Stand with a wave.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna obliges the North Stand with a wave. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says he sees Kayden Jackson as 'part of the long-term project' after the striker's impressive man-of-the-match display in this afternoon's 3-0 home win against Burton Albion.

Jackson found the bottom corner from outside the box with less than a minute played and then provided assists for Wes Burns and Bersant Celina in the second half before leaving the field to a standing ovation.

The 27-year-old, who is due to be out of contract in the summer, looked to be heading for the exit door under previous boss Paul Cook but now looks to have turned his Town career around.

"I'm delighted for him as a lad, first of all," said McKenna. "As I've said before, his personality from the first day has really pleased me.

"He's obviously had a statement performance today but I've not learned anything new about him. I've seen that in training every day, I'm just pleased he's been able to show it to a wider audience.

Kayden Jackson celebrates scoring an early goal for town.

Kayden Jackson celebrates scoring an early goal for town. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

"He's really impressed me with his pace, his movement and his work rate off the ball. And he's a good crosser off of both feet. He's very good with his movement patterns. If you give him a certain run to look for then he goes and does his absolute best to execute the plan. He's very diligent and coachable in that way.

"I thought he did what we asked of him at AFC Wimbledon well, the same at MK last weekend, where he executed his role to near perfection, and today he's taken his performance to another level. 

Most Read

"HIs performance at MK probably gave him the confidence to throw his shoulders back and enjoy the game a little bit more today.

"Hopefully he can have more good days like this.

"I've spoken to him a few times and told him that I see him as an important part of the rest of the season and that he's the right type of person and player that I want to be part of this project long-term." 

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna embraces Bersant Celina after the game

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna embraces Bersant Celina after the game - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Town have now won four straight home games under McKenna, the Northern Irishman's record of W7 D1 L2 having cut the gap to the play-off places to four points.

Reflecting on today's win, the Blues boss said: "It was a good game. Burton came and made it a really competitive game. They threw everything at it, which we thought they would do having watched them on Tuesday night (a 3-1 win against Bolton). With the position they're in, they weren't going to come here for a 0-0. That made for an entertaining game.

"Obviously we got off to a great start. I'm delighted with our intensity to transition so quickly.

"Then the first half was a competitive affair. They pressed us high, tried to regain the ball high and mostly tried to win set plays and play off of throw-ins and corners. They had a lot of balls in and around our box that we had to stand up to.

"I thought every time we managed to get our foot on the ball and play through the lines we had a threat. We had good penetration and movement. We could have had the second goal a little bit earlier but we didn't manage to get it.

"Our chat at half-time was about keep doing the right things and ride out their intensity. I didn't think they'd be able to maintain that over 90 minutes and , as a result, spaces would appear and we would get more opportunities to expose them. It was then just about being ruthless and killing it off when we got the chances.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna looks on.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna looks on. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

"The second goal was a prime example of that. We got Sone (Aluko) in between the lines and he's read the situation brilliantly on his (33rd) birthday. He saw the defender trying to jump, they were gambling all the time and he picked a great pass in behind. It was a great bit of quality. Jacko ran through and set up the second goal.

"From there we obviously could have scored a few more. Credit to Burton, they kept trying to score, even at 2-0 down they kept trying to chase out to us and press us, but we were able to use the spaces they were leaving and create a lot of chances. We got a third goal and could have had more."

Town have now kept four successive clean sheets, making it seven in 10 since McKenna's arrival.

"It's obviously a pleasing stat," said McKenna. "It gives us a good chance because we have goals in the team.

Kayden Jackson celebrates scoring an early goal for Town, to put them 1-0 up.

Kayden Jackson celebrates scoring an early goal for Town, to put them 1-0 up. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

"As I keep saying, our clean sheets aren't just about our defenders and our defending. Defensively I thought we were good today. I thought Joe PIgott led the line really well, worked his socks off. He pressed the middle centre-back, but also recovered onto their deepest midfielder. He gave us a great platform to defend well in the game. His hold-up play back to goal is really good. 

"We stood up to them on the set-plays. The back line and Christian (Walton) were good again. 

"A big part of the clean sheets is how we manage to keep the ball. We did that in the second half, keeping the game under control."

Town now host Cheltenham on Tuesday night. They drew 5-5 at Wycombe this afternoon.

Wes Burns celebrates with Janoi Donacien, after scoring to take Towns second.

Wes Burns celebrates with Janoi Donacien, after scoring to take Towns second. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

"It's an enjoyable day for everybody involved with Ipswich, but the message to the players in the dressing room is that it's only three points. It's no more than that," said McKenna, whose name was chanted throughout the second half.

"We got three points against Gillingham here and we didn't play very well. We don't get any bonus points today because everything went well. It's only three. There's another three to play for on Tuesday night against Cheltenham, a massive game. We have to rest now and get ready for that one.

"The second half was a really enjoyable game, a really enjoyable performance. There was a real good feel around the stadium. 

"Things can change quickly in football though. We worked very hard to get that positive momentum in the second half, but we need to do the same on Tuesday because momentum, with the position we're in, can be lost very, very quickly with a negative performance. We finish this game in a good place but we have to pick up where we left off on Tuesday night."