Reaction: Mick McCarthy admits Ipswich Town ‘stole’ a point at Barnsley
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits his side stole a draw at his hometown club of Barnsley this afternoon.
The Blues trailed to transfer target Marley Watkins’ 58th minute counter-attack goal and then looked on the ropes. Bartosz Bialkowski made a smart stop from Adam Hammill though, then substitute Brett Pitman’s sumptuous cross allowed Tom Lawrence to stab home a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage-time.
“That’s the first thing I’ve stolen from here actually,” said McCarthy, who made close to 300 appearances for his hometown club. “I was here a long time and I never took a paper clip, a pen, a piece of paper or anything, but we’ve burgled a point today.”
He continued: “We were poor today, they were much better, but the game goes on for as long as the referee adds time on.
“We could have scored from the corner and end up conceding, which is nonsense. That was poor on our part. I thought they were so much better once they got the goal. Then the momentum is with them, Bart’s made a good save and the game goes on until the last whistle.
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“I thought Adam Hammill was outstanding today, but they will be digging him out because he’s let Tom Lawrence run in at the far post.
“Brett Pitman has come on, having been out of the team, and he’s made a difference with a quality ball. Did we deserve it? Did we hell! But I’m going to take it.
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“It’s a good point, however we’ve done it.”
Town remain 16th in the Championship table but have seen their gap to the relegation zone cut to seven points. An eight-game unbeaten run contains seven draws. Three teams below them in the standings – Burton, Wolves and Bristol City – all won today.
“I much prefer draws to defeats,” quipped McCarthy.
“Look, I’ve never said for one minute that we are home and hosed and we are safe. Quite the opposite. Some have had good results today, but if we stay unbeaten we’ll be alright.”
On Pitman, who made his first appearance since January, McCarthy said: “He’s been out the team, he’s not been happy about it, he’s seen other people go on, but when he gets the chance today he makes the difference when there are so many that don’t. It was a terrific ball and I’m pleased for him. I just said that to all the lads.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy spoke about his big mentor Norman Rimmington – the former Barnsley keeper, coach, groundsman and kit man who died at the age of 93 last December.
“It’s the first time in 42 years that I’ve come here and not seen Rimmo,” said McCarthy, who gave an emotional speech at the Tykes legend’s funeral. “I came here at 16 years old and he was always a constant. It was strange not going to the laundry room and getting a big hug off him.
“As much as he loves Barsley, I bet he’ll be delighted for me today.
“I think my popularity here – or whatever you want to call it – means the fans here will be bitterly disappointed, but they won’t be too unhappy that I’ve nicked a point if it helps us.”
On fellow Barnsley-born boss Paul Heckingbottom, McCarthy said: “I think he’s the manager of the year in this league. To have maintained that level of performances after selling all those players is remarkable. I think they better hold on to him because they’ll be queuing up for his services.”
Asked what the secret to the 39-year-old’s success was, the Blues boss replied: “I don’t know him well enough to know that. I’ll go and ask him now. Maybe he can help me!”
Does he get less stick at Oakwell than other grounds, he said: “I get more stick at Ipswich than anywhere else at the moment! Have I got an affinity to Barnsley still? I don’t know if you can hear my accent but I haven’t lost it in the 30-something years I’ve been moved out the town have I?”
Was he impressed with transfer target Watkins?
“Yeah, and their two centre-halves, and Yiadom, and the left-back, the two central midfield players were good and I thought their two strikers were different class. They all impressed me today. It was a very, very impressive performance.”