'Until it's mathematically certain you never, ever give in' - Lambert reacts to Reading defeat as gap grows to 12 points
PUBLISHED: 18:17 02 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:17 02 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he won't concede his team are heading for League One until it's mathematically confirmed following this afternoon's damaging 2-1 home defeat to Reading.
The rock-bottom Blues are now 12 points adrift of both fourth-bottom Reading and third-bottom Rotherham with just 11 games of the Championship campaign to play. They also have a significantly worse goal difference than the teams they are trying to chase.
It was the same old story today as Town made costly defensive errors and failed to take golden chances. Gwion Edwards (83) cancelled out Norwich City loanee Nelson Oliveira’s opener (19) before Mo Barrow netted a last-minute winner.
“The mood in the dressing room is what you’d expect,” said Lambert.
“Reading didn’t have many chances, but they took their chances.
“The two goals we conceded we were really poor. We should have stopped them. They should never have occurred. A long ball for the first one and the second goal there was never any danger. We had two-v-one at the back and never dealt with it.
“We had a great chance towards the end of the first half through (Jon) Nolan. He had a really good game, but the boy had a really good chance and never took it.
“Second half we did everything we can to score. We missed too many big chances. Then we concede another really, really poor goal.”
In addition to Nolan’s close-range effort being saved before the break, Town had big chances to salvage a point during six minutes of stoppage-time as Emiliano Martinez spectacularly denied Edwards before Luke Chambers and Collin Quaner both put headed chances wide.
“We had a lot of chances,” admitted Lambert. “The goalkeeper’s made some good saves, we had some bad misses – I think that’s been the story the whole time. Both boxes is crucial.
“The thing that annoys me is that we’re playing well, but in both boxes you’ve got to be more clinical than what we are.”
With away trips to high-flying West Brom and Bristol City up next, he continued: “Time is not on our side, that’s for sure, but until it’s mathematically certain you never, ever give in. Your job is to try and win games.
“It’s still possible. It’s going to be really hard. But you never, ever give in.
“We’ve got too many fans that come and support to give up.
“The support today (a crowd of 23,009) was fabulous again. You feel it for them because they’ve been absolutely brilliant since we’ve come in. As I keep saying, it’s not a normal situation the way they keep turning up and getting behind us.
“You’re going to have that downbeat feeling. That’s normal when you lose a game. But you can’t let it fester because that brings everybody down.
“You try and analyse it for one day and then you’ve got to let it go.
“It will hurt, no doubt, for a couple of days. Then you get them back in and you go again.”
James Collins’ comeback performance lasted 40 minutes before he went off injured. He was replaced by Toto Nsiala.
Then, at half-time, Lambert used his remaining two subs as Cole Skuse and Gwion Edwards replaced James Bree and Trevoh Chalobah.
That saw the system change from wing-backs – and Teddy Bishop operating as a makeshift striker – to 4-3-3.
“The changes were nothing to do with the system, it was all about personnel,” explained Lambert.
“I thought Gwion (Edwards) could provide some legs and energy.
“Trevoh Chalobah was struggling with his thigh and, for me, Cole Skuse is a better midfielder in a three. So that’s why I changed it.
“I thought Cole did really well, I thought Gwion had a good impact and I thought Toto done well too.”
Lambert revealed Collins’ injury was to his calf, not the hamstring which had previously kept him sidelined.
“I don’t know the extent of it with the calf,” he said. “We’ll just assess him on Monday.
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this before. Wardy (Grant Ward) cruciate, Freddie (Sears) cruciate, (Ben) Folami Achilles, Ben Morris cruciate, Tom Adeymei out for the best part of 15 months, Emyr Huws the same… It’s an incredible injury list.
“But you have to get through these situations. Hopefully when we get a pre-season we can get everybody fit.”
Finally, assessing Bishop’s role as a makeshift striker in the first half, Lambert said: “I think the kid has got incredible energy is an incredible ball carrier. The great thing about Bishop is he’s training every single day and is able to play game-after-game again.
“Bish is a player you need to give freedom to go and play. Second half I thought he had a good game.”