Points mean prizes – Mick McCarthy admits his side can play better, but says winning is all that matters

Town manager Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor animated on the touchline during the Ipswi

Town manager Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor animated on the touchline during the Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 05 March 2016. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits his team aren’t exactly in top form heading into this afternoon’s crunch clash with top-six rivals Cardiff, but says that it’s points, not performances, that he craves most now the campaign enters the final straight.

Having enjoyed a storming finish to 2015, the Blues’ season went downhill after the turn of the year with just seven points gained from a possible 24.

Back-to-back 1-0 wins against Huddersfield (away) and Nottingham Forest (home) put them back on the coat-tails of the top-six though before Town then spurned a golden chance to move back into the Championship play-off places on Tuesday night when letting a 2-0 lead slip at rock-bottom Bolton, to draw 2-2 thanks to a stoppage-time penalty.

It’s left things finely poised as McCarthy’s men head into their final 11 matches, starting with a seventh versus eighth-placed game in south Wales this afternoon followed by the visits of Blackburn (16th) and Rotherham (22nd) next Tuesday and Saturday respectively.

The big question is, having ridden their luck against both Huddersfield and Forest, then been thoroughly outplayed by a Trotters side in turmoil, do Ipswich need to find another gear in the days and weeks to come?

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“We could have played better in the last three games,” admitted McCarthy, when asked if he was satisfied with his team’s recent form – keeper Bartosz Bialkowski having undoubtedly been the star man of late.

“But if you say ‘in the next three games, you will get seven points’, I’d be happy – no matter how we play.

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“That’s really what it’s all about. Yes, we could have played better, but we’ve played better and lost games. It really is about getting the points now.”

Ipswich scraped into sixth-spot on the final day of last season with 78 points. On average, since the turn of the century, it’s taken 74 points to claim the final play-off spot.

With Town facing tough trips to Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Derby from mid-April onwards, this week looks like it could be crucial.

“There’s no points target,” said McCarthy. “We’ll aim to win all three, but let me tell you Cardiff are a very good side, Blackburn have got very good players and got a good result the other night (beating Birmingham 2-0 at home), while Rotherham have just beaten Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.

“You really can’t predict anything in this league.”

– See today’s EADT for full match preview. Log on from 2pm for team news and live match updates.

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