Lambert believes ‘being the hunter rather than the hunted’ could help Town after Sunderland loss
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says ‘being the hunter rather than the hunted’ could help his team after today’s 1-0 loss at Sunderland saw them drop out of the League One top-six for the first time since August.
Chris Maguire rifled home an 81st minute from the edge of the box to settle a classic game of two halves.
The Blues dominated the opening period, but the tide turned after the restart and Phil Parkinson's men hit the woodwork twice before finally breaking the deadlock.
It's Town's third straight loss against promotion rivals, with Rotherham, Peterborough and the Black Cats having all leapfrogged them with 14 games to go.
"I thought we were excellent first half," said Lambert. "We should have been a couple up and that would have given us a foothold in the game. We got into really great areas to really hurt them but it never materialised.
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"Sunderland came back strongly in the second, which you expect. You've got to give them credit. They were never going to let us play 90 minutes like that, no chance.
"We rode our luck with the crossbar, but we still had some chances in the second half. There were one or two times we should have pulled the trigger rather than trying to walk it into the net.
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"I thought we should have had a penalty (at 1-0) because Emyr Huws wins that header (before being clattered by keeper Jon McLaughlan). Anywhere else on the pitch and I think that's a free-kick. So that didn't go our way."
Town's record against the current top eight now reads: P11 W0 D6 L5. Their record across all competitions since the middle of October reads: P26 W6 D9 L11. It's five wins in 19 in the league.
"Now we become the hunters rather than the hunted for the first time. Sometimes that can help you - the pressure is kind of off in that respect," said Lambert, whose team head to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday before hosting Burton next Saturday.
"Now we have to go on a run. It's not like the Premier League where certain teams are so far ahead and it looks as though no-one will ever catch Liverpool.
"If we keep playing like that then we'll certainly win more games than we lose.
"Let's see if the other teams can handle being in that top six. There is still a hell of a long way to go, 14 games to go. We have to start to win."
He added: "Football-wise today I was really happy with the way we dominated the game. We had so much control of the game first half, but you've got to score when you get those chances. The top end of the pitch is where you've got to earn your corn."