'This can't continue' - Ward on Town's poor record against promotion contenders
- Credit: Archant
Stephen Ward knows Ipswich Town must find a way to compete against League One’s best sides if they are to have a any real shot at promotion this season.
Yesterday’s 2-0 home loss to Portsmouth means Town have lost six of their seven games against the third tier’s top 10, failing to score in four of those, with their only victory coming against Accrington at Portman Road in September.
That’s a continuation of last season’s disastrous record, which saw the Blues win just two of their 18 games against the 10 teams who finished above them.
Paul Lambert’s men are now sixth in the table but, if they can’t rectify their issues against the league’s leading lights, they will struggle to stay in the mix.
“This was a big chance for us to turn over a big team and start the week well but we’re really disappointed with how we performed,” Ward said.
“We lacked something and we’ve spoken before about being a bit more street-wise and tough because it’s not always going to be easy to play the football we have to play.
“We need to find the inner-belief to get through these games and make it more difficult (for the opposition) than we have been doing.
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“We need to be beating the teams who are up there – turning them over – but we make it too difficult for ourselves.
“That’s disappointing, especially given fans were back in, because we wanted to give them the result and performance they deserved after so long away.
“We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. We’ve had a long discussion about it but this can’t continue, it can’t happen again.
“We have to start afresh from Tuesday and show what we can do.”
The Blues haven’t scored the first goal in a game in any of their last nine matches, dating back to Halloween, with Ward hopeful his side can find their way through their current struggles as a group.
“That’s concerning,” he said. “We have to look at that and try to start games differently by maybe applying pressure in their half and getting the ball forward quickly.
“We have had a great start to the season and have lost a lot of players with a few inexperienced lads coming in now who have given it everything. But it’s hard sometimes when you come up against seasoned pros.
“Sometimes you have to be able to grind games out and, at the minute, that’s something we need to work on.
“The manager said in the dressing room that, as a collective, we’re the only one who can change this and we have to find a way of being harder to beat because on the ball we’re as good as anyone in the league.
“It’s the other side of it we need to work on and that can’t always be given to you by the staff. We have to find that ourselves.”