REACTION: It was just one of those days – McCarthy assesses 1-0 home defeat against Reading
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Ipswich v Reading: It was just one of those days – that was Mick McCarthy’s assessment after his side lost 1-0 at home to Reading this afternoon.
The Blues started brightly, fell behind to Jamie Mackie’s 14th minute goal then struggled to break down a well-organised Royals side who expertly saw the match out.
Town remain fourth in the Championship table, three points behind second-place Middlesbrough (who lost 1-0 at home to Leeds) and two points above seventh-place Brentford (who beat Bournemouth 3-1 at home).
Derby – who twice came from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 at home – are the new league-leaders, while Norwich’s 3-0 win at Watford saw them leapfrog the Hornets and move to within one place and one point of their East Anglian rivals.
“We just didn’t score did we?” said McCarthy. “It’s a good strike by Jamie Mackie, from his point of view it’s a good goal, but I don’t think he should have got the shot off so easily and maybe (Bartosz Bialkowski) could have done better to stop it.
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“We’ve taken the game to them consistently all the way through and not managed to score. It was just one of those days I’m afraid.”
Having said that Reading were a better team than their mid-table position suggested in his pre-match press conference, McCarthy said: “Listen, if you put that team of players up – they should be competing for the play-off places; that’s where they should be.
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“Having conceded a goal against them it was hard. It was parasite football and it suits them even more so once they scored and could sit back and catch us on the break.
“I thought we created enough opportunities to score today, but we didn’t manage it.
“It’s a tough one this. I can’t come in here and say our lads have played badly. They’ve had a good away performance to be honest, defended well and we’ve not been able to break them down. There were maybe some things we could have done better, maybe a final pass or a finish, but it just wasn’t our day.
“Of course it’s a disappointment if you don’t score or make their keeper work, but maybe we should credit their keeper, their back four, their whole team for defending well.”
With Middlesbrough and Bournemouth both losing today, McCarthy dismissed the notion that pressure may be getting to the leading sides as the final straight comes in to sight.
“I keep reminding everybody that there’s not that much between any of us,” said the Blues boss. “We watched Leeds beat Middlesbrough before our game. That is the Championship. Middlesbrough had all the play and lost. I’m not saying that was the case with us today, but we had the majority of play and couldn’t score.
“It’s funny isn’t it? Does anyone think that our 11 players on the pitch today are that much better than the 11 players Reading had on the pitch today, over the course of their careers? There’s nothing between us at all.
“Our position and points tally might be a good deal better, but in terms of the quality of players and strength in depth of the squads there’s nothing in it.” He added: “I can’t sit here and give you a million answers today. They scored a goal, sat back and defended well and we couldn’t get one.
“It’s always a sad day when you lose, even more so at home, but – as I keep saying – it’s about the points you end up with.”
Reading boss Steve Clarke, whose side have moved up to 13th in the table and nine points clear of the relegation zone, said: “We’re doing okay away from home (just one defeat in eight matches across all competitions), the home form is a little bit of a puzzle to be honest (only two wins in eight), but I think you’ve seen today that we’ve got good quality and good character in the group.
“If you don’t show character and strength when you come to a place like this then you lose. It was a big three points for us.”
With the Royals having an FA Cup quarter-final at League One side Bradford to look forward to, Clarke continued: “We’ll keep our focus on the league because we want to get higher and higher. We’re nine points off the bottom three now and that’s still not enough. We’re disappointed about where we are in the league. We want to finish the season on a high and get as many points as we can.”
With Clarke having been scathing of his side following their 1-0 home defeat against Wigan on Tuesday night, he added: “I got the response I expected. We didn’t play that well against Leeds and got beat, then we went to Derby in the Cup and played well, then we had Wigan at home and didn’t play so well. It’s quite frustrating that we can’t find a level of consistency.
“Everybody knew we let ourselves down on Tuesday night so it was good that they showed a bit of passion for the club today.”