Reaction: Mick McCarthy backs Derby and Middlesbrough to claim automatic promotion after Rams’ 1-0 win at Portman Road

Town manager Mick McCarthy scratches his head as time ticks away in the Ipswich Town v Derby County

Town manager Mick McCarthy scratches his head as time ticks away in the Ipswich Town v Derby County (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 19 December 2015. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has backed Derby County and Middlesbrough to seal automatic promotion to the Premier League this season following the Rams’ 1-0 win at Portman Road this afternoon.

Tom Ince pounced on a loose ball and scored, with the aid of a sight deflection, in the 40th minute. Derby, who have moved into second, then defended superbly after the break as Ipswich were restricted to just two shots on target.

The Blues, who remain sixth in the Championship table, have now won just one of their last nine matches at home. And they have lost to all of the top four too – Middlesbrough (2-0 at home), Brighton (3-2 at home) and Hull (3-0 away).

“My impressions of the game are that it was a pretty good game, a close-fought game, not a lot in it, except we’ve conceded,” said McCarthy. “It’s always a good goal if you score it, but a poor one if you concede it. We are in possession, we give it away, I think it took a deflection and, having looked at it again, I think he’s offside.”

The Blues boss continued: “I’m not complaining about that. I’ll complain about it in my report to the referee and the assessors instead!

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“If it is (offside) and that’s their one bit of good luck then good luck to them because we’ll get one of those at some point down the line as well.

“I thought we played well. I was delighted with the performance actually. Really pleased. I’m just disappointed with the end result.”

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Ipswich lacked a creative spark when chasing the game, while Derby defended superbly.

“That’s a recipe for not scoring goals that isn’t it?” said McCarthy. “I think they’ve got the best away defensive record in the league. They’re a good team. I’m not going to criticise my players. There were times when we might have picked a better pass, a better cross, shown a bit more composure and made a different choice, but when we stop teams from playing I tend to take the credit for that and my team takes the credit. Perhaps we have to give them a bit of credit today.

“They are a good side and if anyone finishes above them or Middlesbrough then I’ll be very, very surprised.”

When it was put to him that his team had once again fallen just short against one of the leading promotion candidates, McCarthy said: “Yes and we’ve got another two of these sort of games coming up (Brighton and Burnley away), possibly three because QPR are resurgent under Jimmy Floyd (Hasselbaink). I’m not going to go home and be holding myself to judgement and recriminations about how we set up and how we played because, as I said, I thought it was a good performance against a good side.

“I have no complaints with my team’s performance. I have a bit of a complaint about the goal we conceded, because we had the ball and it shouldn’t end up in our net as easy as that – that’s tiny little detail.

“If it had ended up nil-nil I’d have walked off and thought that’s a fair point against a good side.”

The home fans inside Portman Road constantly voiced their discontent at the way the Derby players conducted themselves and the way referee Keith Hill handled the game. And there was one incident towards the end when midfielder Jacob Butterfield shoved Cole Skuse in the face and then grabbed the referee’s arm as he showed a yellow card.

“That’s part of the game,” said McCarthy. “Come on. Me, who is hardly the shrinking violet, is hardly going to start moaning about people being competitive. I don’t think there was anything (nasty) in that game. Even Ince kicking Ryan (Fraser) in the face. Christophe (Berra) had one of them earlier in the game and got booked. I said to the fourth official ‘it was an accident, he didn’t mean to kick someone in the face’. It was the same with Ince.

“All that wrestling, it’s no bother to me at all because if you’re not competitive you get shafted every week. They’re a competitive team and we are too. No complaints.”

A positive for Ipswich was the return to action of Fraser and Luke Varney, who both came off the bench following recent lengthy injuries.

“I do hear some managers bleating when they have one player missing,” said McCarthy. “We’ve had Ryan missing, who had scored four goals, we’ve had (Teddy) Bishop missing all season, Kevin Bru for a big part, David McGoldrick’s been missing. I think anyone would have missed all of them.

“So to have Ryan Fraser, Kevin Bru and Luke Varney back out there today was a positive. Those minutes in the legs will help them further down the line.”

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