Reaction: Mick McCarthy admits Ipswich Town were fortunate to secure FA Cup Third Round replay against non-league Lincoln City
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admitted that his low-on-confidence team were fortunate to salvage an FA Cup Third Round replay at non-league side Lincoln City courtesy of this afternoon’s 2-2 draw at Portman Road.
The table-topping National League visitors were the better team for most of the match and twice took the lead through penalty box finishes from the alert Theo Robinson (7 and 56), but in-form Leicester loanee Tom Lawrence spared the Blues’ blushes with two individual equalisers – the first following a solo run (12) and the second a crisp, long-range strike (86).
It means that Town, stuttering in the Championship, will head to Sincil Bank for a replay, possibly in front of the TV cameras, a week on Tuesday.
“Tom’s got us all out of jail with two good finishes,” conceded McCarthy, who faced chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ from both sets of fans.
“I thought Lincoln were excellent and they’ll be feeling very unlucky not to have won the game. I’ll be complaining bitterly about the goals we conceded and I guess they will be as well.
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“They were good. I think they played very well. I knew they would come here confident, I knew they were a good side having had them watched and so there were no surprises. It was a classic cup tie between a non-league side and a league side - and they were unfortunate not to win it.”
Asked how disappointed he was that his team failed to kick on after the first equaliser, he replied: “I’m bitterly disappointed. I’m also disappointed we didn’t capitalise on our good start to the second half and ended up conceding. There were quite a few disappointments in the game, but the really positive point is that we didn’t lose because we’ve got Blackburn coming here on Saturday.
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“We’re still in the Cup and the lads kept going to get a result.”
This is a result and performance which puts Town’s current woes – and the apathy surrounding the club – in the national spotlight.
“There are a few results around the place that aren’t particularly good,” said McCarthy, making the point that there were other upsets in the Third Round. “It’s not easy playing against a side like them. Like I said, they’re a good side that’s full of confidence. We’re not particularly full of confidence, especially playing here. So maybe it’s not as big a surprise as some people think it is?”
And what about the fans that are chanting negative things about him?
“The only thing I can do is get the team to play better and win,” he said. “That will stop it. Maybe it won’t now at this stage. I’m not complaining though.”
With owner Marcus Evans having made his support of McCarthy known publicly and privately, can McCarthy blank out criticism from other quarters?
“I can’t really affect that,” he repeated. “I tend to try and affect the things in my life that I can – and that’s dealing with players and trying to get the best out of them. People will be saying ‘you’re not doing that’ or ‘you’re not getting better results’, but that’s all I can do. What other people think of me or want to say about me doesn’t bother me that much. No it doesn’t.”
With close to 5,000 Lincoln vocal fans making up almost a third of a 16,027 crowd, was it a difficult atmosphere for his players to play in?
“I thought it was a brilliant atmosphere and should have been one we embraced,” said the Blues boss. “ Their fans were fantastic, as ours were when we were in the top six. I wonder when they were getting relegated out of the Football League, did they all turn up and support like that? No they didn’t. The atmosphere was the way it was today because of their results and our results.
“Confidence does play a big part in sport and they came here full of it and brimming with it being top of the league and playing the way they are. We’re not and we’ve got to find that formula and get back to winning ways.”
On the prospect of the replay, he said: “I’m not really bothered about that at the moment to be quite honest. We’ve got Blackburn coming here next Saturday and my thoughts are on that. It will be a tough game, of course it, will and I hope it will be a tougher game for Lincoln than it was today.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy – who named five inexperienced youngsters on the bench – said that injuries and illness had forced his hand.
“That was all I had,” he said. “Leon Best had diarrhoea and sickness, Chambo (Luke Chambers) and Skusey (Cole Skuse) had swollen knees which are still settling down, Myles Kenlock has got a nasty knock to his calf from the QPR game and Didzy (David McGoldrick) hurt his hamstring yesterday and will have a scan on Monday.”
Lincoln boss Danny Cowley said: “There was definitely a tinge of disappointment when we got in the dressing room, but if we’re honest the over-riding emotion is one of pride. I thought we when toe-to-toe with an experienced Championship team and gave a really good account of ourselves.
“We spoke all week about what we saw as being success for us because we knew if we measured it just on the result we might come up short. We wanted to get a standing ovation from our 5,000 supporters at ten to five and we got that.
“We found a new level today. We asked them to be on their ‘A’ game and then find another 10% and they did that. We’ve drawn but we’ve taken a very experienced Championship team all the way. It was an heroic performance.
“The biggest mistake you can make in these games is trying not to make a mistake and be really passive and negative in the way you play. We gave them freedom to get on the ball and pass it.
“We’re a bit disappointed with the first goal. We give a square pass straight to the very player we didn’t want to in Tom Lawrence – if he’s not a Premiership footballer I’d like to know what one looks like. He’s a hell of a player and maybe we should have made a tactical foul.”