‘If we walked away with a 4-2 win I don’t think anybody could complain’ – Lambert on 1-1 draw with Forest and performance of referee Stroud
PUBLISHED: 20:54 16 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert was surprisingly restrained in his criticism of referee Keith Stroud following this afternoon’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest at Portman Road.
Six of Town’s last seven games have finished by this scoreline and, just like in so many of them, they came away from this one feeling they probably should have claimed all three points.
Following a low-key first half, in which Molla Wague’s scrambled effort (31) cancelled out Collin Quaner’s opener (5), the Blues produced a rip-roaring second half display which built in pressure.
Trevoh Chalobah fizzed a volley inches wide, Jon Nolan put a close-range diving header wide, also had a superb finish ruled out after Stroud ruled Alan Judge’s free-kick had been taken too quickly, while Kayden Jackson was twice denied by keeper Costel Pantilimon’s legs.
Stroud then ruled out strong penalty appeals in stoppage-time following Wague’s lunge on Jackson at the far post before blowing for full-time just as the Blues prepared to take a corner.
Asked if he was beginning to wonder what his rock-bottom side had to do to win a game, Lambert replied: “It’s incredible isn’t it? How well these guys is playing is fantastic. I always say you go by the crowd and the crowd were absolutely brilliant. You don’t have a game without them.
“The two are bouncing off each other incredibly well. Performance-wise, if we walked away with a 4-2 win I don’t think anybody could complain.
“They had a legitimate goal ruled out in the first half (Daryl Murphy’s rebound finish ruled out for offside in stoppage-time), but if we’d have taken our chances in the second half I think we could have scored another three at least.
“We had a great claim for a penalty which we never got too.”
Lambert had been left incensed by Stroud following a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa at the end of January after two big penalty decisions went against his side.
“Keith never gave us a stonewall penalty at Villa Park (Tommy Elphick handling Collin Quaner’s on target effort in the box),” said Lambert. “It was the same here. To me that looked like a penalty.
“It’s a difficult job he’s got, but the linesman’s got to see that as well looking across the line. It was a good case for a penalty.”
On Stroud blowing the whistle to halt play a millisecond before Nolan rifled a shot in off the underside of the crossbar, the Blues boss said: “He’s saying he hadn’t blown the whistle. That’s where the consistency comes in. If the referee has said ‘wait for the whistle’ then I understand and he has every right to pull it back. I don’t know the conversation that went on.
“It was a quick thinking free-kick and a great goal. That just seems to be the way it goes with us at the minute.”
Lambert contacted the Professional Game Match Officials Board following that Villa game earlier this year. Asked if he’d ever got the answers he was looking for, he replied: “I spoke to the head of referees at that time. I don’t want to make another call because I’m not sure you get too much.
“Keith came and saw me before the game today and spoke about that Aston Villa game but the damage was already done.”
Asked if it had been an apology, Lambert paused and replied: “Erm… If you want to call it that. In a roundabout way. Maybe.
“Keith came and said what he did. You would like to think he maybe got it wrong.”
And what did he say to Stroud at the end today?
“I asked about the penalty,” he said. “We put on Toto (Nsiala) on at the end and normally you get an extra 30 seconds for a sub. That never got taken into account.
“Judgey hits the free-kick and within about three-and-a-half seconds he blows up. Where was the 30 seconds for Toto coming on?”
The Blues remain 13 points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table with eight games to go. After next weekend’s international break they host Hull City at Portman Road.
Lambert reflected: “How many draws has it been? Six out of seven? If we’d have walked away with five wins then nobody could complain because we’re playing that well.
“That’s the beauty of it. We just need a break. The lads are playing under extreme pressure but they’re handling it brilliantly with the way they are playing.
“Everything about the club is really positive in this moment.
“Okay, the table is what it is. But I think the level of atmosphere and the level of performance is really, really high.
“It’s exciting football we play. We play a lot of risk football. We just need that little touch that finishes it off.”
He added: “More times than not it’s been like it was today here. The crowd have been brilliant again. The crowd is a unique crowd. We need them.
“As I said before, there’s no point paying £25 a ticket and not getting involved.
“Hopefully the coming games go well, the season tickets goes well and we get the fans back to the stadium.”
On his decision to once again make five changes to his starting line-up, restoring loan players like Matthew Pennington, James Bree and Quaner to the side, Lambert said: “The lads didn’t get back til four in the morning after the Bristol game (on Tuesday night). I just thought we’d freshen it up again and the lads who came in did great.
“Andre (Dozzell), Idris (El Mizouni), Josh (Emmanuel) and people like that – their time is coming.
“As I’ve said before, the future is really good.”
On playing loan players, Lambert added: “The reason being is we’re not out of it. When somebody says mathematically it’s finished then fine. Then I might look at things.
“Until then I’ll keep picking the best team I think can win the game. We’re not out of it. That’s why I’ll pick a team I think can win us the game.”