Lambert on Southend win, Skuse and Vincent-Young injuries and dropping Holy
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert hailed his team’s character after they returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at struggling Southend United this afternoon.
This game had the potential to be a banana skin given the Blues came into it off the back of defeats to Accrington Stanley and Rotherham, it was Sol Campbell's first match in charge of the Shrimpers and the conditions were both wet and windy.
Town put in a professional performance to secure all three points courtesy of a pair of cool finishes from James Norwood (8, 70) and an alert rebound goal from Kayden Jackson (76), with Emile Aquah's close-range finish a late consolation.
"The lads were great," said Lambert, whose team return to the top of the League One table with a game in hand on most.
"Are we top of the league again? Maybe we'll get some negative questions again?! Unless we've turned the table upside down again.
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"The best teams in the world lose games - it happens. It's about how you bounce back. Our character and the way we played today was excellent.
"Listen, it was really good, the lads have done great, it was great support again, we played a good game. They didn't really threaten us, apart from some corners, so I was happy.
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"Number one, the expectancy levels are high; Number two; they had new manager syndrome, which you do get sometimes. It was always going to be all about us though.
"We are in the strongest position out of everybody in the league. Everybody would love to be where we are. We've got a couple of games in hand and we're playing well."
With James Norwood returning to the starting line-up following a two-game absence due to groin surgery, Lambert said: "Norwood is a unique kind of guy the way he battles through things. He's old-school and that's a compliment to him. Him and Kayden played really together and both got their goals. They are both a handful and complement each other really well.
"The finishing was different class. Norwood's finishing was brilliant, left and right foot, and Jackson is really sharp at the minute."
The downside to today's game was the sight of Cole Skuse and Kane Vincent-Young both going off injured.
On Skuse, Lambert explained: "I don't know if it's his groin. Three games in six days is a lot. I know Cole will probably say 'I can play every game', but as I've said before the one thing you'll never beat is time. It happens to every footballer. He's been fabulous, he's playing really, really well and maybe three games in six days was just one too much."
On Vincent-Young, the Blues boss said: "It's the same little thing as before (groin injury which kept him out for three weeks). Now we've got 10 days break (until a trip to Rochdale) and we'll see how they recover."
Flynn Downes will also be suspended for the trip to Spotland after he picked up his fifth booking of the season. That caution came early in the game, but the youngster, who was back in the side after a hip injury, was able to produce a mature display.
"You guys probably know better than I do that he's got that little streak in him where he can see the red mist at times," said Lambert. "I'll never curtail that because he needs that in his game. I was happy he showed really good maturity staying on his feet. He played a good game."
Jon Nolan and James Wilson replaced Skuse and Vincent-Young, while Alan Judge produced a lively late cameo.
"Nolan was unfortunate he was left out," said Lambert. "The reason I left him out is because he'd played a lot of football and then missed the pre-season (with a calf injury). I thought he was excellent when he came on, him and Flynn.
"Wilson came on and did very well, while Judgey looked more like his old self. Three of them made a good impact."
Lambert again made five changes to his starting line-up today, including a switch of goalkeepers for the first time in the league as Will Norris replaced Tomas Holy between the sticks.
"It was probably one of the hardest ones I've had in terms of telling someone they are not playing because he's such a nice guy," said Lambert.
"I'll never tell anybody any lies. I tell them why I'm doing it. He was great with it, probably disappointed, but I think he understands we're a squad and we have to try and utilise anybody.
"It was nothing against Tomas whatsoever, he's been absolutely outstanding for us and he wasn't at fault for any of the goals in the last two games. I just felt Will needed a game and a little bit of a lift. He trains really hard and pushes Tomas to the limit. I just felt this one was the right call.
"He's really assured and has got a great left foot on him. I was happy with how he played. He's a top goalkeeper Will Norris."
Asked if Norris will now get a run in the side, Lambert said: "You never know what can happen in training. I'll decide nearer the time. We have 10 days until the next one."
On his decision to go back to a 4-4-2 formation, Lambert added: "I think they are experienced enough to handle different ways of playing. I've got no problem about what system I play or what personnel I pick. Whoever plays, I trust them. That's the biggest compliment I can give them. Today we went back to what gave us the success up until now."