'We need to be more clinical at set pieces' - Pennington wants Town defenders to add goals
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Matthew Pennington knows the Ipswich Town defenders need to start contributing in the final third, as well as tightening things up at the back.
The Blues secured just their second clean sheet of the season as they kept Wigan out in Saturday’s timely 1-0 win at Portman Road, with only Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall conceding more than the 37 goals Town have allowed so far this season.
Pennington is the only Ipswich defender to find the net this season, with his goal coming in the 2-2 draw at Birmingham before he was later sent off, and the Everton loanee knows that needs to change.
“We really need to be more clinical from set-pieces to start with,” Pennington said.
“They provide massive opportunities in games now as you saw in the World Cup.
“So many goals are scored by defenders now so I’d like to chip in with more for sure.
“Just as you should defend as a team – it’s not just the back four or five – you should push on as a team as well and that means contributing goals from all over the pitch.”
The 24-year-old has been a consistent performer in recent weeks, with the central defender grateful to have retained his place after Paul Lambert replaced Paul Hurst.
He also believes Lambert’s style of play suits the way he likes to approach the game.
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“Playing every game under Paul Lambert has given me a confidence boost because when one manager is replaced by another there can sometimes be a period of uncertainty in terms of your game time. But I’ve maintained my place.
“We have more options and time on the ball and if the centre halves can split early it gives the other guys more space going forward.
“They try to play that way at Everton, too. We’re taught to get the ball down early, spread out and move for each other so I would say I’m used to that style.”
Pennington has made all 16 of his Ipswich appearances alongside captain Luke Chambers, which he believes has benefitted him greatly.
“Playing alongside Chambo has been brilliant,” Pennington said.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for him, reaching the 300 appearance mark for Ipswich and I’ve certainly learnt bits and pieces from lining up next to him this season.”