Reaction: Mick McCarthy admits it’s ‘one step forwards, one step back’ after Ipswich Town’s 2-0 loss at Bristol City

Mick McCarthy communicates to his players at Ashton Gate

Mick McCarthy communicates to his players at Ashton Gate

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits it has been ‘one step forwards, one step back’ for his side this season following today’s 2-0 defeat at Bristol City.

Lee Tomlin’s controversial 31st minute penalty and Luke Freeman’s sensational 72nd minute volley was the difference in a tight game which lacked quality and goalscoring chances.

The Blues, who have slipped to 16th in the Championship table, haven’t won back-to-back games in 2016/17. An impressive win at Sheffield Wednesday was followed up by a limp 2-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest, with today’s defeat coming off the back of a fine 3-0 home win over QPR.

“The difference between the two teams was a penalty and a worldy – that’s the difference,” said McCarthy.

“I thought they started well, then I thought we got to grips with it was it a penalty? Yeah it was, yeah. That’s surprised you hasn’t it?”

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With Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski diving at the feet of Tammy Abraham just as he toed the ball away from goal, referee Stuart Attwell took an age to point to the spot.

“I don’t know what you want me to say about that,” said McCarthy. “Do you want me to find an excuse that it’s not? I thought the referee waited a long time. As we came off at half-time he said if it had gone out before the contact he couldn’t have given it. I didn’t really understand his explanation. I just hope it wasn’t their appeals that got the penalty because they were quite vociferous.

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“I’ve looked at it again at half-time though and I’ve got no complaints. I thought it was a penalty.

“Tammy Abraham, fair play to him, reacted quicker than any of us to nick the ball as Reg (Varney) did last week (against QPR) when chasing the ball down.”

Home keeper Frank Fielding turned a David McGoldrick shot onto the post into the 55th minute. Was that a major turning point?

“The turning point was when that unbelievable flying bomb went in the top corner,” said McCarthy, referring to Freeman’s sensational left-footed volley from the edge of the box.

“It’s just an unbelievable strike, completely unstoppable. I was right behind it and as soon as it left his boot I knew it was going in the net.

“That was the turning point because we were on top then. We’d had some good chances and we didn’t make the most of our final pass and final cross. We wasted a few really good opportunities.

“Of course you could say the turning point was if that had gone in it would have been 1-1 and we might have gone on top get something out of the game. Whether we win it or not, who knows? I don’t think we would have been beaten because we were doing alright then. We were doing well.”

Asked about his side’s lack of consistency, McCarthy replied: “It’s one step forwards, one step back. I’m not going to grumble about how we played or the performance though.

“When they get to 2-0 we’re winging it a bit then and pushing forwards and they have a couple of chances, but that’s at 2-0. When QPR were 2-0 down against us they were winging it and pushing forwards and we could have ended up with four or five.

“Up until that point in the second half we’d been playing well and goals change it, of course.”

So how is any momentum going to be built?

“How do we change it? Just keep playing the way we are,”replied the Blues boss.

“Maybe it was just their day today. It looked like it.”

Was the lack of chances created today, and the general lack of goals scored this season, the biggest concern?

“We didn’t work their keeper enough when we broke on them,” admitted McCarthy. “I thought we played some good stuff, we were just lacking in that final third. We’ve only scored 17 goals so that speaks for itself.

“We’ve had eight clean sheets. Yeah, we need to get the first goal if we can because that changes the game, as it did today.”

Was it disappointing that, having named an unchanged team, his players couldn’t produce a repeat performance?

“I’ve no complaints with the performance,” said McCarthy. “Bristol City had a good side out, play 4-4-2, they needed a good performance, they were the home team, so let’s give them a bit of credit. I thought we got to grips with that though. I’ve no complaints with the performance. You’re missing my thoughts completely there.”

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