Paul Jewell admits his players looked ‘flat’ in 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell is considering shuffling his pack for Saturday’s visit of Barnsley after admitting a number of his player looked ‘flat’ in tonight’s 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough.

The Blues showed great character to make it seven games unbeaten at Portman Road, Grant Leadbitter atoning for a missed penalty opportunity to cancel out Lukas Jutkiewicz’s opener in the 74th minute.

It was only in the latter stages of the game that both sides sprung to life though, with another instantly forgettable opening 45 minutes of football served up at Portman Road.

“I think in the first half we were very flat and couldn’t get any momentum going,” admitted Jewell. “It almost took the penalty miss to breathe some life into us really.

“Sometimes games are like that. I think we looked a little bit jaded I have to be honest. To play eight games in a month is a punishing schedule.

“I know people don’t want to hear about highly-paid footballers being tired, but teams put a lot of effort in. There were a lot of players who didn’t have their best game tonight who, for one reason or another, looked a little bit flat, but we’ve still got something out of a game against a good team with the best away record in the league.”

With Saturday’s visit of Barnsley completing a March schedule of eight games, Jewell said: “A game every three days or so means we’ll have to get some rest into the players.

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“We haven’t got the biggest squad in the world, but we would like to freshen it up a little bit.”

Reflecting on last night’s match, the Blues boss added: “We had a penalty saved, conceded a goal, which we thought might have been offside, but we’ve then shown good resilience in what was a bit of an end-to-end finish.

“It was a great goal from Grant because it was a tough technique with the ball coming across him like that. You have to say he’s been terrific of late and he looks like he’s got goals in him. He’s playing well and showed character after missing a penalty.

“It was a flat first half, but I thought it was an excellent second half.”

– See tomorrow’s EADT and Ipswich Star for full match report.