'Stick with it... There's still a long way to go' - Lambert on Town's 2-1 home defeat to Bristol Rovers
PUBLISHED: 18:30 14 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:58 15 December 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has called upon supporters to 'stick with it' following this afternoon's 2-1 home defeat to Bristol Rovers.
The Blues conceded two poor goals inside the opening quarter, Tyler Smith (4) and Tom Nichols (23) both on target, before dominating the rest of the match. The hosts couldn't add to James Norwood's headed finish (36) though, even after away skipper Ollie Clarke was dismissed in the 78th minute.
It means Town have now won just one of their last 10 games across all competitions and are seven points behind League One leaders Wycombe (with a game in hand). More importantly, they have seen their gap to seventh cut to five points. Meanwhile, Rovers, unbeaten in 10, have climbed to fourth.
"You can't give teams a two-goal start and then start playing," said Lambert. "We lose a poor goal from a throw-in, then lose another poor goal when we had the ball. TIt gives you that jolt and then we came to life. We get a great goal and have a strong end to the half. Second half was basically all us, we tried everything to score and it just never happened. They got blocks in and defended really strongly.
"We went for it. We went with three lads up top, there was a lot of good stuff, but you can't give teams a two-goal start. That's tough."
Ipswich started the season with 10 wins from 14 games in all competitions. They've claimed just three wins from the subsequent 14 matches.
They are still to beat a team currently in the top six (D3 L2) and have managed just three victories on home soil in the league (D4 L2).
"The game is about winning," said Lambert. "Last Saturday (against Coventry in the league) we could have been three or four up and it never materialised. The game is 90 minutes and (playing well for) 45 minutes is not enough. Today we had most of the game and we should have been, at the very worst, 2-2 at half-time with the chances we had. Then we tried everything second half, dominating the ball and limiting them to not a lot.
"I can't complain about a lack of effort today. It was totally different to Tuesday (2-1 defeat to Coventry in the FA Cup)."
He continued: "There haven't been enough wins at home. Away from home we've been getting good results. There's still a hell of a long way to go. There will be a hell of a lot of twists and turns. We're in a good position. The guys are disappointed, but we are in a good position still. There's a long way to go.
"Teams come here to frustrate us. That's normal for any big club with a fan base like this. You expect it. You have to be big enough and brave enough to handle it. For me, I'm used to it. Some of the lads will be used to that pressure, some of the younger ones won't, but it will make them better players.
"It takes a big player to play here, but it's a great place to play. The atmosphere is great. Everybody gets disappointed, but as long as everybody sticks together that's the most important ting.
"There are so many games still to play, an incredible amount of games. I've always said there will be twists and turns and bumps along the way. It's important the team remains focussed on what we're trying to achieve. If we can do it (promotion) this year it would be brilliant because not many teams bounce back straight away.
"If you look at the results today it's incredible. Accrington beat Portsmouth, I think Rotherham have lost. It's a really tough league. We're in a good position with a game, but we need to start to win."
Asked if he had a message for the supporters, Lambert said: "Don't get into the morgue it was a few years ago. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the ride. It will be up and down, but it will be exciting. We might not win every game, but it will be exciting. Don't get caught up in the apathy again. Everyone knows the disappointment, but it's a fabulous fan base with incredible support. Stick with it. The young ones certainly need the support."
Explaining the absence of Janoi Donacien, he added: "We were informed this morning he wasn't well. He woke up with a virus, which was disappointing. We had to rejig it a little bit. I had something else in my head this morning and then had to change it. We had to move one or two lads.
"But, as I say, I can't fault the lads for their effort."