MANAGER’S REACTION: Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hails Blackburn Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes after the former Blues man comes back to haunt his former club again

Blackburn v Ipswich: Blues boss Mick McCarthy hailed striker Jordan Rhodes’ clinical and crucial 64th minute opening goal, the former Town youngster once again coming back to haunt his former club as they went down to a 2-0 defeat at Ewood Park.

After an even opening hour, the former Kesgrave High School pupil – who had barely been in the game – showed his predatory instincts by latching on to a flicked-on long ball before firing a superb low, left-footed shot beyond Dean Gerken from the edge of the box.

It was his third goal in as many games against his former club, the Scotland international having netted 141 times for clubs and country since he exited Portman Road under the management of Roy Keane in 2009.

Rudy Gestede headed home from a corner in the 80th minute to seal the home side’s win, Ipswich now five points adrift of the play-off places heading into the final six games of the Championship campaign.

“I think we were equally as good or equally as bad as the opposition until the goal went in,” said McCarthy. “I was quite happy with the first half and I actually thought we were alright in the second half. We just blinked first and let them off the hook.

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“It’s an eight million striker’s goal. It was a good touch from Gestede, it was poor defending from us but there’s poor defending lots of times in games – it’s whether you can punish it. And he did.”

When it was put to McCarthy that Ipswich fans will no doubt be reflecting on Rhodes being ‘the one that got away’, McCarthy said: “I know. And West Ham fans talk about Bobby Moore, (Manchester) City fans talk about (Mike) Sumerbee and (Colin) Bell.

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“It’s just the way it is. It just a bit more recent and a bit more raw in the case of Jordan. He’s a very good player at this level, there’s no question of that. I’m sure he could do it in the Premier League. He’s going to be a top, top striker.

“I don’t think he’d had a kick really up until that goal. That’s the difference between winning games and not when you’ve got a striker who can do that. It wasn’t an easy chance was it? He still had it all to do from 18 yards.”

Town – along with Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Bournemouth – are on 58 points, five adrift of sixth-place Reading.

“It’s always important to bounce back because you never want to lose two games on the bounce,” said McCarthy. “The games are running out and it’s not going to be easy (to finish in the play-off places).

“I think Huddersfield lost today, but they’re a decent team and that will be a hard game for us on Tuesday night. We’ve got to travel back home now and then travel back up north again. That doesn’t help, but neither would staying here for three or four nights. It’s just a difficult set of fixtures.

“We’ve got to come back and do it again. There’s six games left, we’re not in the best position to get the play-offs, Reading are in pole position and it’s theirs to lose now.”

On his decision to start Frank Nouble and Anthony Wordsworth in wide areas, dropping Paul Anderson and Stephen Hunt, McCarthy said: “Frank’s ripped it up and changed the game on two occasions, Woody I thought was excellent in the two games he’s played. I just wanted to change it. To be fair, I thought they both played well. Certainly Woody; I only took him off to get on some fresh legs. Big Frank didn’t have the same impact, but he can’t do it every week.”

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