‘We’re playing better than at the start of last season without a doubt’ – Lambert on 2-0 home win against Rochdale
PUBLISHED: 18:06 26 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:35 26 September 2020
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert praised his side’s patience after this afternoon’s 2-0 victory against Rochdale at Portman Road.
Just like at Bristol Rovers last weekend, the Blues had to wait until the second half for their breakthrough as Teddy Bishop (53) and Gwion Edwards (59) both scored in relatively quick succession.
“I thought we deserved to win,” said Lambert, whose side remain top of the League One table following three successive 2-0 triumphs.
“At the start of the game we were sloppy. We had a lot of the ball without penetrating enough, but then we started to find our rhythm. Oli (Hawkins) had a great chance – it’s a brilliant header and a hell of a save, you’ve got to give that kid (Gavin Bazunu) his dues. Then Oli hits the post, we have one off the line and you think it could be one of those days.
“All credit to the guys, they found their feet, there were some really fantastic switches of play, the football was great, the off the ball running was great and we ultimately deserved the win. We were just a bit sloppy at the beginning.”
He continued: “When you have too much of the ball it can hurt you. When a team sits off... But that’s the respect they showed us. I think they know we’re a good side. We were patient, we recycled the ball really well from side to side at certain moments and I’m really happy overall. The way we are playing is really pleasing.
“I thought Oli Hawkins did great for the goal (setting up Bishop with a neat lay-off). I thought he had a great game. Everybody knows Bish can run off the ball. He gets people going the other way. If we can keep him fit he’ll be another asset.”
With Hawkins having replaced James Norwood in the side, Lambert explained: “I just thought Oli would give us something different. I don’t just mean physically. He’s got a good touch and I knew he’d be a handful. On another day he could have got a hat-trick. So yeah, it paid off.”
On veteran left-back Stephen Ward, who had a hand in both goals, Lambert said: “The biggest compliment I can give him is that his professionalism is unbelievable. Dear oh dear, if the young guys can learn from him... There’s no better model pro.
“He’s got absolute enthusiasm and hunger for the game. He’s just been an absolute pleasure to work with. He’s someone you can see has been at the top of the game for a long time. He’s a top player and, more importantly, a top person.”
Rochdale certainly played their part in this match and it required some last-ditch defending to preserve the clean sheet towards the end.
“The lads threw their bodies into things,” said Lambert. “As I’ve always said, the cornerstone to any successful team is the defence. That allows everyone else to find their feet and get going. The defending, as a back four and goalkeeper, was excellent.
“Credit to Rochdale because they are a good team. They got a good result against Portsmouth (0-0) last week. Bristol Rovers have spent a bit of money and are a really good side who play a different way. Wigan are a really good team. Every game is tough.”
Only Town and Hull have maximum points after three games, with the Blues heading to MK Dons next weekend.
“There’s a long, long way to go,” said Lamber, whose side were top in January last season only to end up finishing 11th after the campaign was cut short in March.
“There are so many games. We’ve got the EFL Trophy coming up where I’ll play a few kids. We’ve got one or two knocks. With the games we’ve got to play it’s a crazy situation and a crazy time for football.
“The main thing is that, without a doubt, we’re playing better than we were at the start of last season. You guys will write what you want to write, but my opinion is we’re playing so much good football, we have so much dominance of the ball and there are a lot of guys with a lot of confidence. They’ve been great in training at it and it becomes second nature to them.”
With new signing Mark McGuinness not in the match day 18, Lambert said: “The kid’s just here, but I’m really happy with the way he’s trained and the way he’s come into the equation. I think Toto (Nsiala), (James) Wilson and Woolfy (Luke Woolfenden) certainly know there’s a fight on their hands to stay in there because McGuinness could be a right player.
On Alan Judge (hamstring) not making the squad, the Blues boss said: “He was touch and go and will be okay for next week. If he was fit last week he’d have probably started.”