MANAGER’S REACTION: McCarthy hails the positive impact of Stephen Hunt after 2-0 win over Reading

Stephen Hunt leaps on Daryl Murphy after the latter put Ipswich 1-0 up against Reading. PHOTO: Lucy

Stephen Hunt leaps on Daryl Murphy after the latter put Ipswich 1-0 up against Reading. PHOTO: Lucy Taylor - Credit: Lucy taylor

Ipswich v Reading: Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy hailed the positive impact of Stephen Hunt following a 2-0 home win over Reading.

The experienced Irishman was a bundle of energy against the Royals – a club he made more than 100 appearances for – creating Daryl Murphy’s 62nd minute opener with a driving run and getting a standing ovation when withdrawn, dead on his feet, moments later.

Hunt, reunited with his former Wolves boss McCarthy at Portman Road, was starting only his second league game for the Blues having signed last November. And he has arguably been man-of-the-match in both of them (previously impressing in the 3-1 home win over Blackburn on December 3).

“Hunty’s terrific,” said McCarthy. “I felt sorry for Tabby (Jay Tabb) because he was one of the players I thought played well last week (in a limp 1-0 defeat at Millwall). He had to play in two positions – in wide left and in the middle – and he competed better than others.

“Hunty just gives you something a little bit different. Tabby is more of a left midfield player, whereas Hunty is a definite left-winger.”

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Hunt certainly lifted the Portman Road crowd with his all-action display, with McCarthy laughing: “He’s been like that all week. He came in Monday morning, we’re playing Reading and he’s bouncing around and he fancies it. He gets in your head man!”

On the incident which saw Hunt booked for sliding in on keeper Alex McCarthy, the Blues boss added: “I don’t think that was a booking. I think the ball was there to be won. I think it was their reaction which got him booked. Their player who reacted and pushed him should have got booked too.”

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He added: “He certainly gets the crowd going. I only took him off because he was goosed. Amazingly I’d said to him ‘you’ve got five more minutes’ and he suddenly found a bit more energy to create the goal!”

Reflecting on the game, Town ending a three-game losing streak to move back up to seventh in the Championship table (two points adrift of Reading), McCarthy said: “First half we weren’t particularly great, but second half we were a lot better and deservedly won the game.

“I keep saying that you get bad times in the season and we might have another bad time yet. What I do know though is that they are a really good honest bunch of pros who were really hurt by that performance at Millwall. They didn’t like that. It’s nice when you come back and win against a good side that’s fancied to be in the top six.”

Paul Anderson wrapped up the victory in stoppage-time with a fine goal, beating his marker with a drop of the shoulder and lashing an angled shot into the far corner, but McCarthy says the half-time withdrawal of Carlos Edwards was enforced.

He said: “I saw him (Edwards) stretching off and he had ice on at half-time. I think Carlos was ready to go back out there but I had to say ‘you’re coming off mate’. I’ve only got 18 players so I couldn’t have one going on with a sore groin.

“We’ve been banging on at Ando to be more positive. In the game against QPR there was a moment where he should have taken Richard Dunne on and got a shot off. Me and TC (Terry Connor) were moaning at him after that. Hopefully that goal shows him what he can do.”

McCarthy also admitted that his side were fortunate not to concede a 16th minute penalty when Ryan Tunnicliffe slid in on Jobi McAnuff in the box.

“I think we did get lucky there,” he said. “I just said to Tunners as I was putting my tie on ‘hey you, don’t be diving in like that in the box’. He said ‘I didn’t touch him’. Well I’m not bothered if he touched him or not, don’t go diving in like that in the box because you can get sent-off, we’d be 1-0 down, have 10 men and be knackered.”

Meanwhile, the Blues boss confirmed that Middlesbrough right-back Frazer Richardson – who watched from the stands – has joined on loan until the end-of-the-season. The 31-year-old will be available to play at Leeds, the club where he started his career, on Tuesday night.

Speaking about the ex-Southampton and Charlton player, he said: “I’m delighted to get him,eEven more so because Nigel Adkins (Reading manager) said to me before the game ‘well done for getting Frazer because he’s a fabulous pro. He had him for three seasons at Southampton.

“I’ve known about him a long time. I tried to sign him from Leeds when I was at Sunderland. He’s only 31 and is out-of-contract at the end of the season.

“He’s a top lad and he knows the score. He knows Chambo (Luke Chambers) is playing and he wants to come here and fight for that slot.”

– See Monday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for match comment and more reaction. Click here for the match action captured by Archant photographer Lucy Taylor.

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