‘Polar opposite’ displays, strike partnerships and his own form – Keane looks ahead to crunch Peterborough clash
PUBLISHED: 13:58 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:11 31 January 2020
Ipswich Town striker Will Keane says the team needs to get back to doing what they’re best at following two ‘polar opposite’ performances.
The Blues coolly controlled possession in last weekend's dominant 1-0 home win against Lincoln City, but looked rushed in Tuesday night's 1-0 thrashing at the hands of a physical and effectively frantic Rotherham.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's top-six clash with Peterborough at Portman Road, Keane said: "Tuesday was a frustrating night and a missed opportunity for us.
"It was the polar opposite from last weekend really wasn't it? We played some great stuff against Lincoln and then never really got going on Tuesday.
"Against Lincoln I was constantly in the game and getting touches, trying to make things happen. We did really playing out the back. At times we weren't maybe going forwards, but we were moving them around and loosening them up a little bit. Maybe at times on Tuesday we were a little bit impatient and being a bit too direct rather than trying to build play and progressively move up the pitch. We need to try and get back to that tomorrow.
"On Tuesday night it was so stop-start and really difficult to get into the flow. You might only get a touch every five or 10 minutes and feel on the periphery. That's hard when we've been dominating games recently, but you just have to keep going in those sort of games and hope that the opportunity comes.
"We maybe should have done more to try and play around them and make the pitch a little bit bigger and move them around. They pressed us very high, squeezed the game and made it difficult. You have to credit Rotherham, they are very effective in what they do, but you still have to try and come up with solutions and we didn't manage to do that.
"A lot of teams in this league set-up like that and approach games like that. First and foremost you have to win the battle and be prepared to do the ugly side of the game. I thought at times we dug in and competed, but the way they play is difficult to stop. We need to do more on the ball because that's our strength.
"We know we definitely have to improve against Peterborough. We need to reflect on it, put a few things right and go into tomorrow's game full of focus.
"We've still got a lot of confidence off the back of the result and performance last weekend at home, so we're looking to build on that and push for the three points."
Town moved back to the top of the League One table last weekend, but slipped to third after defeat at the New York Stadium. Tomorrow's visitors Peterborough are up to fourth following three straight wins.
"They've got a lot of threats, they're an attacking team and play a similar system to ourselves so it will probably come down to who does it better really," said Keane. "They've got a lot of pace going forwards and will be dangerous on the counter-attack. We need to be aware of that, but really focus on what we're all about. If we can perform we know we can cause them problems.
"They are only a couple of points behind us now having been on a good run of form themselves so I am sure their confidence will be high. We need to take that into consideration but make sure we try and control the game and get that win."
With Town yet to register a win against any team currently in the top nine, Keane continued: "Any win at this point in the season is massive. It doesn't really matter who the opposition is, we go in with the mentality of wanting to win. We've not had a great run of form against the teams around us so we're looking to out that right as soon as possible. I'm sure that would give us the belief to keep pushing on.
"There are still a lot games to go. We've been in good form since the turn of the year. We had a blip (On Tuesday), we need to put that to bed and get back on track and get a win on Saturday. It's going to be a tough game, but hopefully we can win and that will gives us the impetus to go on a good run.
"At the minute it is obviously close at the top. We're looking up and not down. We need to keep pushing on for the wins. Last week we got ourselves back into top spot and it's constantly changing. I think whoever puts a run together could get a bit of distance. We've got some really tough games coming up, so we just take each ones as it comes and look to keep pushing on."
With 11 of Town's last 16 games at home, Keane said: "The performances at home have been really good. The fans have been brilliant in getting behind us. They've seen that we're playing some good stuff, but at the end of the day we need to make sure that when we're on top we're putting teams to bed and getting those points on the board.
"Home form is going to be massive. Confidence is high at Portman Road and we've got to keep that up."
On his own form, Keane said: "I'm feeling good. With more and more games I'm feeling sharper and am just looking to build on that now. I feel like I'm getting my full sharpness back. This is probably the best I've felt since last season just before I got injured. I had a similar run of games and was feeling really good. I feel like I'm up to that level again now. I just need to make sure I keep it going.
"I go into every game wanting to score. If I can one tomorrow, or another couple, that would get me going again."
Having partnered Kayden Jackson up top in the last four games, Keane said: "I always enjoy playing with Jacko. His performances levels have been really high. He's a nightmare for defenders the way he puts himself about. He's non-stop. He probably does a bit of my running, which helps!
"Strike partnerships start to build day-to-day in training then when you've had a couple of games you start to really gel and understand the runs that each other makes. I feel like we've got that."
Keane added: "Linking up with Judgey (Alan Judge) has been good, I think we've been complementing each other quite well. There's been a good balance there.
"Searsy (Freddie Sears) has been building his fitness and I'm sure he's itching to get more of an opportunity.
"Norsy (James Norwood) did really well when he came on the other night, made a good impact and was unlucky not to score with that chance at the end.
"It's a difficult decision for the manager. All we need to do is keep giving everything we've got when we get the chance.
"We have got a very strong squad now most people are fit. There's competition for places."