‘I would just ask for a wee bit more patience if things aren’t going our way’ – Lambert’s message to fans ahead of Shrewsbury visit
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has urged supporters to show ‘a wee bit of patience’ if his side are finding it hard to break down Shrewsbury at Portman Road tomorrow.
The Blues top the League One table following an unbeaten five-game start consisting of three wins and two draws, though there have been moments of frustration along the way.
In their last home outing, against AFC Wimbledon, Town trailed 1-0 and left the field to a smattering of boos at the break.
Lambert felt his team had been 'too passive' in that opening half, but it was a different story after the break. With all three substitutes making a positive impact, a midweek crowd in excess of 18,000 responded with hearty encouragement and a dramatic comeback victory was secured via late goals from James Norwood (81) and Kayden Jackson (90+4).
"We need everybody," said Lambert. "At half-time against Wimbledon you could hear the grumblings because we're losing 1-0.
"You can't just expect teams to come here and roll over. We have to earn the right.
"It's going to be tough, but we're playing well and the support the football club has is unbelievable. You heard it against Wimbledon, away to Peterborough, at home to Sunderland, away to Burton, at Bolton... You could go through them all.
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"The support the club has is huge. It's getting bigger and bigger. It's getting more aggressive and we're getting more attention for the support they are giving.
"The only thing I would ask is a wee bit of patience if things aren't going our way."
Shrewsbury, who only just avoided the drop last season, have made a solid start to the campaign given their summer overhaul and lengthy injury list. They might not be scoring many, but they've proved a tough nut to crack, beating Portsmouth 1-0 and playing out goalless draws against both Rochdale and Burton.
"It's up to the opposition how they want to play," said Lambert, when asked if he thought a lot of sides would come to Portman Road with a defensive game plan.
"When we do encounter that we have to be what we were in the second half against Wimbledon.
"The stats show Wimbledon had one shot and scored. That then gives you a problem to try and break them down.
"You get the grumblings at half-time when maybe the lads need just a wee bit more patience with people saying 'okay, we can turn this around'.
"Second half was relentless and the fans were fantastic.
"We might encounter a lot of games like that, but it's up to us to try and break them down."
The Blues continued: "The Wimbledon game was really the only first half I've been disappointed with. The Bolton game was a difficult game in a surreal atmosphere because of the situation. I knew it would pan out that way. To only score one goal for all the chances we had in the first half I didn't think was good enough. Second half was what it was.
"Second half against Wimbledon was unreal with the support we had.
"Against Burton we came out the traps. Against Sunderland we certainly came out the traps. There are a lot of games we have come out the traps. Wimbledon is probably the one game we didn't."
On the impact a loud and supportive crowd can have on the players, Lambert said: "We need to whip up emotions, excite people, use everything in our power to get the crowd going. It's not as if we're playing in front of three or four thousand people, we're playing in front of 20,000 plus.
"We have a massive support behind us and we have to excite them.
"We're getting a vibrant fan base now who are really enjoying the atmosphere at the games again.
"That crowd has totally swung from when I first came in here. I'll always reference that Middlesbrough game (last October). I'd rather have stuck needles into my eyelids than watch that. There was no atmosphere. There was nothing there. The fans were tired. They didn't even want to boo. I watched that on TV and thought 'that's not football'.
"My God, now it's absolutely phenomenal. It's proper now. This is what you strive for.
"I thank each and everyone of our fans for that. They needed us and we needed them. Now it's come together."
Asked why he'd felt the need to do that, he explained: "If we go through a season unbeaten then, my God, that would be unbelievable.
"It might happen, it might not happen. The likelihood is we will lose some games and there will be bumps along the way though. That's normal.
"I've never had a season where I've not been beat. I'd love to have one and see what it's like.
"That's football. That's why it's such a great game. But if you win more than you lose then you tend to find you'll be there or there abouts.
"It's going to take a good team to beat us, that's for sure."