We must overcome mental block – Tommy Smith

TOMMY Smith believes the late goals that have ruined Ipswich Town’s season are down to a psychological weakness in the side.

Last-gasp goals that have turned victories or draws into defeats have been an unwanted feature of Paul Jewell’s Blues this term and have seen the side plunge into a relegation fight.

And the young defender, who has been in the team during the late horrors against Birmingham and Blackpool this month, believes Town need to show more mental toughness as the final whistle approaches.

He explained: “It has been disappointing but there have been positive signs. It would be frustrating if the performances weren’t there, but we are performing. We, as a group, just have to get over that mental barrier of the last 10 minutes.

“It’s not tiredness. We have a fit group of lads. Over the last few years, we have been conceding late goals – it is not just this season. Once we get that first win, we will be flying.”

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A clean sheet at Elland Road – which would be Town’s first in seven matches – would go a big way to securing three precious points, as Smith is only too aware of.

He said: “It has been a while and I think we have been close a couple of time.

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“If we can be cohesive and keep on working hard as a group against Leeds, hopefully we can get a clean sheet.”

For the first hour against Blackpool, Smith put in a performance that started to underline the promise he had shown as a teenager – not to mention his threat at the other end, scoring Town’s second.

But the afternoon, and the 21-year-old’s own showing, was spoilt by a poor final third of the match which saw Blackpool claw back a 2-0 deficit to claim a point against a more youthful Blues.

But Smith still believes Paul Jewell is starting to find the right balance in his side – even if he concedes you can’t play in every game.

He explained: “If you have got more youth in the side, there is always going to be extra legs. You need to balance that out with experience and I think we are sort of getting the right mix at the moment.

“With there being a lot of games, you have to try and balance out who is feeling fresh and the rotation policy is working quite well – I think we have quite a strong squad.”

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