McCarthy hails team’s battling qualities after Preston beaten 3-0

Town manager Mick McCarthy pictured ahead of the Ipswich Town v Preston North End (Sky Bet Champions

Town manager Mick McCarthy pictured ahead of the Ipswich Town v Preston North End (Sky Bet Championship) match. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hailed his side’s battling qualities after their 3-0 win against Preston North End at Portman Road this afternoon.

A forgettable first half was punctuated by injury breaks, with the ball spending most of the time in the air and neither team registering a shot on target prior to stoppage-time.

Then Martyn Waghorn won and curled home a free-kick to give the Blues a half-time lead, with David McGoldrick’s expert header (49) and Bersant Celina’s super strike (64) sealing the victory.

When it was put to him that this was a classic game of two halves, McCarthy joked: “Yeah, because there was some entertainment in the second half!

“It (the first half performance) was what was required though. There are all sorts of ways to win a football match. I’ve been in the Championship long enough to know there was a team coming to play against us that is going to be pretty tough and resolute. And that’s what we were going to have to be. It wasn’t going to be pretty.

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“If you think you’re going to be a nice football team you suddenly get your arses kicked.

“The one bit of quality was the move before the goal. It was a really good move and Waggy despatches it nicely.

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“Second half we started well and it always looks better when you’ve scored three goals, but if it had ended up nil-nil (at half-time) then they’d have booed the s**t out of me coming off.”

He sarcastically added: “Everybody’s happy hey?”

With Celina and Waghorn having both scored direct free-kicks recently, McCarthy quipped: “Yeah, and I think I’d have saved them both! I’m not kidding either. Bersant’s was a decent strike last week (at Burton), but if Bart (Bialkowski) had let it in then I’d have been fuming. And If Bart had moved four yards (the wrong way) and let that one in today I’d have been even more fuming.

“I don’t think we get too many breaks though. We’ve earned that. It was our day today.”

He continued: “Getting the first goal makes you all feel better and gives you momentum. It’s really important.

“It didn’t really change my team talk. I just had a better ‘well done’ to say. It was a proper scrap. That was the best game Adam Webster has played for me. He was different class. He was playing against a really good, big handful (Jordan Hugill) and it was nice to see him on his arse and not Adam.

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“And whenever he was put on the floor he got up and kept going. It wasn’t about his silky running out with the ball that made him great today, it was for that (indicates a zero with his hand) – a clean sheet.”

With Manchester City loanee Celina having scored in three consecutive games to take his tally for the season six, McCarthy said: “It was a fabulous strike. He’s been terrific, he really has. For all the furore surrounding him, he’s had to learn my ways and what I expect of him. To be fair to him he’s worked really hard and done great.

“He’s extremely fit, a great athlete, but even at 3-0 we had a chance to break and he gave it away twice and they ended up having a chance and I’m pulling my hair out!”

Following a 2-1 comeback win at Burton last Saturday, McCarthy made six changes to his team for Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff before making five more today.

When it was put to him that there had been some criticism of his team selection in midweek, he replied: “I just avoided swearing then! What would have come after ‘I don’t give...’?!

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“I saw Alex Neil (Preston manager) had said something about my team selection on Tuesday. Is it my job to get results?

“I tell you what was important. After the Burton result we could have got beat at Cardiff with whatever team I put out. Do you know what would have been happening then, we’d have all come back at four in the morning and playing again today in a must-win game.

“We’ve got a squad of 19 players and it’s my job to pick and choose. We weren’t that lousy at Cardiff, it was just we gave lousy goals away.

“I’ve explained it better than I was going to do when you first asked me. I hope that is sufficient for you.”

With Cole Skuse having limped off in the first half, McCarthy explained: “Skusey’s got his leg in a brace which always looks worse. Matt Byard (physio) will assess that tomorrow.

“Kevin Bru (who came on) has been great and I’ve expressed my thoughts on how professional he’s been. He certainly wasn’t going to play a full game today having played on Tuesday night.

“I thought Callum Connolly was different class to be honest. I said ‘Cal, do you want to go and play in there (midfield)?’ and he said ‘no problem’. I knew he could go and do it.

“I think it shows the commitment of the players. You all know that wouldn’t be my midfield pairing (when everyone is fit), but it worked today.”

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