‘We’re hitting form at probably the right time’ – Lambert on Town’s 2-1 comeback win at Tranmere
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert believes his team are hitting form at just the right time following this afternoon’s 2-1 comeback win at Tranmere Rovers.
Manny Monthe headed the hosts in front against the run of play in the first half, but the Blues stuck to their task on a quagmire of a pitch to seal all three points via Flynn Downes' close-range header and Kayden Jackson's lobbed finish.
It continues an encouraging start to 2020, with Town having now claimed eight points from their last four games to remain within touching distance of the League One automatic promotion spaces.
"It's totally deserved, we dominated the game," said Lambert. "We had so much play. The way the centre-backs are performing is at a really, really high level. I think we're hitting form at probably the right time.
"We were the best team right from the off. They scored from a set-play that should never have been given in the first place. Their guy took the throw-in and threw it straight off the pitch. The referee made him take it again which didn't make sense. Obviously they then get the free-kick (from which Tranmere scored). That was the only thing they really had, was a cross like that, and the big guy is hard to pick up.
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"But overall, we were excellent. The first goal was well-worked. It's a great ball from (Luke) Garbutt, he's been doing that all season, and Flynn gets in the box. The second goal was excellent too, a great passing move and a great finish.
"I thought the two Lukes (Chambers and Woolfenden) were excellent along with (James) Wilson. I thought they were outstanding the back three, going forwards and joining in. They were a handful. We played some really good stuff.
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"There wasn't much wrong with the performance. Football-wise I never really felt under pressure."
All three Town substitutes had an impact, with Teddy Bishop getting the Tranmere defence back-peddling and James Norwood, on in the 72nd minute, producing a well-weighted assist for the winner. Cole Skuse then came on to help the Blues professionally see out the match.
"Bish came on and looked lively," said Lambert. "(Alan) Judgey has been great, he came off just because of Tuesday night (at Oxford) and the heavy pitches."
On his decision to drop Norwood to the bench at his former club, the Blues boss explained: "I think he was just a bit off it, but he's had an injury which he came back really, really quickly from. Will Keane was excellent for us again on Tuesday night, his hold up play was excellent, and I thought again he was excellent today. And I felt Kayden's speed would case them problems, which it did.
"I didn't have to tell him (Norwood) why, no. I just named the team and you get on with it. He's not a kid, he knows the script. I make the choice that I think is beneficial for the team."
On the state of the Prenton Park pitch, which was covered in sand following a midweek postponement, Lambert said: "I don't think that pitch was playable. I know Tranmere wanted the game on, and all credit to them for trying to get it on, but that's not a football pitch. That far side was the worst. There was so much sand. It's not great for football.
"The pitch was a leveller. Even the Tranmere lads, if they're being honest with you, would say that. I know they've got to get their games on but that's not good for anybody that."
Asked if he was therefore pleased to be getting back to Portman Road next weekend (against Lincoln) following back-to-back away games on poor playing surfaces, Lambert said: "That's not much better! It's not great, Portman Road. It is what it is. But to be back home the way we are playing, I'm really happy."
Following some much-improved league displays in 2020, against Wycombe (1-1), Accrington Stanley (4-1), Oxford United (0-0) and Tranmere, Lambert was asked if he felt his side had got beyond their little sticky patch (a 12-game winless run in all competitions) and were now starting to find their rhythm again.
"We've been really consistent for most of the season," he said. "You're going to have little dips, that's normal, but the way we are playing has been really good.
"We've only been beat four times all season. It's incredible form we've been in. Yeah there have been one or two blips, a few draws, but people went over the top with it that's for sure. People went over the top, they didn't have a clue what was going on. You're going to get idiots but I guess that's people who don't know the game.
"The guys can have a couple of days off now and we go again. The way we are playing we are well in the mix that's for sure."