'Fans are disgruntled - I understand it' - Cook on Papa John's Trophy exit to Arsenal U21s

Thumbs up from Town manager Paul Cook as he headed back to the changing room at half time.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook, pictured at half-time of his side's 2-2 draw against Arsenal U21s in the Papa John's Trophy. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says he understands fans' frustrations after his side gave up a 2-0 lead to exit the Papa John's Trophy at the hands of Arsenal U21s tonight. 

Kayden Jackson scored twice to put the Blues in firm control at Portman Road, but Kane Vincent-Young's own goal and Folarin Balogun's finish levelled the match up at 2-2 before Bersant Celina and Joe Pigott both failed to convert In the shootout.

Since their magnificent 4-1 victory at Wycombe at the start of November, the Blues have won just two of the last eight matches in all competitions - against Crewe and Oldham - and neither of those victories were particularly convincing.

"You'd be a fool to say you never saw that coming following and supporting us," quipped Cook, referencing his team's penchant for letting leads slip.

"It's a really disappointing night.

"I thought we worked hard in the game. Arsenal have got a lot of quality players, but we got ourselves in a fantastic position. And yet we end up losing a game that you can't lose. 

"What have we really learned from quarter to eight onwards tonight that we didn't already know before the game? Not a lot.

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"There are areas that we clearly need to improve on. 

"Personnel around the club might feel they are safe sometimes, but that's not how it works at big clubs."

He continued: "Listen, I'm not going to start analysing the goals that we gave away. There's no point. I will never get after people - I don't believe in that.

"Like a lot of games that we've seen, we put ourselves in great positions and we don't have the ability to be durable, to be honest, to be workmanlike just to see a game out. 

"It was a game that looked like we couldn't not see out. We were really in control of the game. Yes, there was a little bit of a reaction after Arsenal equalised but it was a little bit too much too late wasn't it?

"Clubs that want to be successful have to win games. It's disappointing that we go on penalties, but that was a game we should never have lost. Unfortunately for us and our fans that's where we're at at the minute."

On the performance of two-gaol Jackson, Cook said: "Outstanding. I said to the players before the game 'make sure you give me a selection headache for Saturday'. Certainly there were lads within that starting 11 tonight who 100% have and there are certainly lads who have probably cemented what I already knew.

"You can't speak highly enough of Kayden. He is certainly the big shining light from tonight, he should rightly get the plaudits.

"There were qualities out there tonight that would certainly help the first team." 

Cook, whose side host League Two club Barrow in the FA Cup second round on Saturday, continued: "We wanted a three game winning week. We were desperate for it. Three home games in three different competitions and we wanted three wins. Unfortunately tonight we haven't delivered it and it just puts us under that little bit more pressure to make sure we win on Saturday.

"We are a work in progress. I get the disgruntlement, 100%. I feel it. Everyone wants to finish a race quickly but it's not just like that. Sometimes it does take time. Within that you've got to manage disappointment. 

"It's where we're at. The fans maybe thought we'd have one window and it would all be magic. I think when you're trying to build a club and you want to get stronger and stronger, I think it's clearly obvious that we're going to need more time. But that's something that maybe supporters might not accept. You can feel our fans getting a little bit disgruntled. I understand it. I've got no problem with it.

"But we haven't got a magic wand that's for sure."

Reflecting further on the game, Cook said: "Against Crewe it got nervy. Again it's happened tonight. We make games nervy. We give ourselves problems in games that we shouldn't give ourselves. We're not under great pressure in the game, we're not getting pinned back and clearing off the line, we're just making massive individual errors that keep costing us. Until we change the individuals then the individual errors won't change.

"The minute the Arsenal goal went in one of our fans shouted at me! I actually shouted back 'what about shouting at one of the players?!'

"Look, I will always carry that for the team. Sorry, I'm only being a little bit jovial, if I be truthful, because when you want to be good you've got to carry a steeliness and an edge. Unfortunately at the moment we don't."

He added: "We've made 11 changes tonight, but we put a team on the pitch that we felt was good enough. 

"We're in pole position and we give that position up."

"We had some good performances, at times we looked goo, we did what we wanted to do it in the game, we created chances, we got in the lead, we got the second goal... Unfortunately the goals we gave away were just, listen, they just beggar belief. But that's football 

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