'No more than we deserved' - Lambert on Keane's late leveller against Stoke
PUBLISHED: 18:05 16 February 2019 | UPDATED: 21:54 16 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert believes Will Keane's stoppage-time was 'no more than we deserved' in this afternoon's 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Portman Road.
A defensive mix-up between keeper Bartosz Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen gifted James McClean with a goal towards the end of an even first half.
Town played on the front foot after the break and, though Alan Judge curled a free-kick against the woodwork, they failed to created any clear cut chances from open play.
Then, two minutes into added-on time, Keane rose majestically to head home Judge’s swirling corner delivery on the edge of a crowded six-yard box to rescue a point.
“Do you know what, I thought we were excellent,” said former Potters boss Lambert, whose side are back to within nine points of safety at the foot of the Championship table.
“We were up against a team I know really well, lads I know really well, and there was nothing in the game.
“Second half I thought we were relentless. I don’t think Stoke really caused us too many problems for the squad that they’ve got and the size of club it is.
“We were relentless. Young lads with energy and enthusiasm for the game.
“I thought it was no more than we deserved. I thought we were excellent.
“I don’t think anybody could begrudge us that. We were bang at it.”
He added: “Look at Stoke’s squad. When I was there I thought they should be good enough for the top two, easily, with the lads they have.
“All of a sudden things don’t work out, people change, players come in and go. Stoke have spent a hell of a lot of money, but you wouldn’t think the disparity is what it is.”
On the calamitous goal conceded, Lambert said: “I don’t blame anybody. I’m never really into the blame culture. Those things happen at certain moments and in certain situations.
“The response of the team, when it could have gone the other way, was first class.
“We’ve got a lot of young players in the team. We had a hard game on Wednesday night against another team going for promotion (1-1 home draw with Derby).
“That’s two back-to-back games where I think we’ve been excellent. I couldn’t ask for anymore. I thought we were excellent.
“The atmosphere in this stadium is incredible. I don’t think you could go anywhere in the world of football and find a team that is bottom with that level of support. It’s absolutely phenomenal.
“I think we’re playing really, really well and are in the fight.”
Hailing Keane’s headed equaliser as ‘brilliant’, Lambert said: “Do you know what, I think he’s back to his Man United days. His hold-up play is fantastic. When I first saw Will coming through I thought he was an absolute handful. When I saw him at Preston on loan I thought he was excellent. Then he got his injury.
Asked if he’d like to see his team turn their spells of good possession into more goalscoring chances, Lambert said: “You’ve got to remember that we’ve only been here three months. What we’ve managed to do is generate a support behind us. In world football you don’t get that level of support when you’re sitting bottom of the table. The amount of dominance we’ve had… I can’t ask for any more.
“The final third, that just comes with a little bit of anxiety at times. If we were sitting mid-table I am pretty sure it would be totally different and I’m sure the lads would be a little bit more relaxed. But they’re playing under tension.
“I tell you what they don’t do is that they never, ever hide from wanting the ball. Not one of those guys shies away from the football.”
Lambert also had praise for midfielder Teddy Bishop, saying: “This is a kid who didn’t play for nearly two years. It’s not normal. He missed a hell of a lot of football, but he’s not missed training since we’ve come in and he’s playing games now.
“It’s a great sight to see a young player driving with the ball at his feet like that. If Bish stays injury free he’s going to be a hell of a player.”
Lambert also hailed playmaker Alan Judge as ‘outstanding’. Asked if there was any chance that Town could keep hold of either him or Keane for next season, the Blues boss said: “You would love to. But the pound coin comes into play. You can’t go and match a lot of wages, which is the reality of it. You have to try and see what’s possible. Money, finances do dictate a big part of the game though.”
Judge has described the 12 month ‘option’ in his short-term contract being ‘more in the club’s favour... a bit of both actually’.
Lambert said: “That’s what it is. It’s mostly with the club. Judgey has summed it up perfectly with the way he said it.
“As I said before, I don’t like too many loans. Six loans is too much and it can create a problem with picking a team.
“But I think the lads who have come in really enjoy it here, they enjoy playing here and they enjoy the atmosphere.
“I think everybody recognises this is a really good club. If we can keep it up it will be brilliant.”