MANAGER’S REACTION: Mick McCarthy delighted to see his side back to their defensive best in 1-0 win at Charlton
Charlton v Ipswich: Blues boss Mick McCarthy was pleased to see his side get back to their defensive best in a hard-fought 1-0 win at Charlton.
Tommy Smith headed home from a corner in the fifth minute after a barnstorming start to the match from the Suffolk side, who chose to attack towards their 2,654-strong travelling support.
Charlton gradually worked their way back into the match and dominated possession after the break, however Ipswich produced a superb rearguard action to secure only their third clean sheet of the campaign.
“We’ve played better than that away and not won,” admitted McCarthy, whose side have moved to within four points off the Championship play-off places ahead of Tuesday night’s visit of Blackburn to Portman Road.
“We’ve not defended much better than that though. We didn’t have a lot of the ball in the second half, but if you’re 1-0 up and keep a clean sheet then it doesn’t really matter does it?”
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Asked why his side have seemed to play well in one half and poorly in the other so often this season, gaining 10 points from losing positions but also dropping 17 from winning positions, McCarthy said: “Look at everybody else in the league. You could say Leicester put in two different performances against us, Leeds the same, Charlton today. I could go on and on and on.
“What brings momentum? What losses momentum? Does going behind and getting lashed at half-time bring out something in teams?
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“Charlton played very well I thought in the second half. They had to force the issue, I thought they did and there was a bit of last ditch defending at times, but I thought we handled it well.
“Christophe (Berra) and Tommy (Smith) battled well and they had to because I think their two front guys are a handful. (Simon) Church has got his mojo back, I always liked him at Reading and he looks like he’s back at it, while (Yann) Kermorgant is a handful too. We said before the game that those two and Cameron Stewart would be a threat. And I thought we handled them.
“Cressie (Aaron Cresswell) was outstanding having just come back.”
Reflecting on his side’s super start to the match, keeper Ben Alnwick making three top saves before Town finally found a breakthrough, McCarthy said: “I said to the guys ‘they played on Tuesday night (2-0 home win over Doncaster), you never know what affect that might have’.
“I think they saw this as a chance to get six points from two home games, I’ve no doubt of that. If I’d have been them I’d have thought that.
“I wanted us to approach it with a real fast start. They brought it upon themselves with the kick-off, playing it back to the centre-half, not clearing it and it going for a corner. We could have been 2-0 up before the goal.
“I wonder if them playing on Tuesday night did have an effect on them? It didn’t look like it at the end when they were rampaging forwards. Maybe we just caught them cold.
“I was pleased with our first half performance, but I was very, very aware that it would be a different second half.”
– See MOnday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for match analysis and more reaction