Lambert on Oxford defeat, fans’ boos, Jackson’s red card and bringing on Sears in the 90th minute
PUBLISHED: 18:10 22 February 2020 | UPDATED: 20:32 22 February 2020
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he won’t criticise his players or the supporters following this afternoon’s damaging 1-0 home loss to League One promotion rivals Oxford United.
The Blues dominated the first half only to be hit with a sucker punch just before the break when Matty Taylor put the visitors ahead against the run of play. Town huffed and puffed after the restart with frustration - both on and off the pitch - boiling over at the end.
There were audible chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' when Lambert introduced Freddie Sears in the 90th minute, with Kayden Jackson then dismissed in stoppage-time for an alleged stamp on Rob Dickie.
"We didn't take our chances again," said Lambert. "That sums it up. I've just counted five really good chances in the first half. The lads are doing really well playing wise, they're creating chances, we're just not taking then. You have got to score. There's no grey area.
"But I'm not going to sit here and chastise the guys. They do everything we ask them to go and do. They create, they do the right things, it's just that little finishing touch really. We've just got to keep working hard and hopefully that changes."
With loud boos greeting the final whistle, Lambert said: "Listen, it's an unbelievable fan base. I say it every week, they want to see the team win. When you're at a big club you have to take what's coming, good and bad. One, I never criticise. Two, I never get caught with the whole thing of it. I played in front of ferocious support before where you make one mistake and *puffs cheeks out* dear oh dear that was a volley.
"For me it's not an issue. The younger guys, maybe it is. We have to stick together. You can't criticise Ipswich support at all though. Never. Never in a million years could you criticise them because of the way they come in their numbers and everything that's happened over the last few years. You can never criticise the support. They've been unbelievable for me."
Asked about Jackson's dismissal, the Blues boss said: "Do you know what I've not seen it yet. People say he stamped on the guy but I've not seen it. He's not that time of player Kayden. I'd have to have a look at it. It's three games if they say it's violent conduct. I think if you lose an appeal they stick another one on top of it. I can't comment yet as I haven't seen it.
"Sometimes adversity can make you stronger. If he's suspended then we have to get on with it. We're lucky that we're getting Freddie (Sears) and Bish (Teddy Bishop) back."
Quizzed about his decision to wait until the game was just entering stoppage-time to bring on Sears for Alan Judge, Lambert explained: "I just thought Judgey was doing well. I thought 'do we do it or not?' because there wasn't too much wrong regarding dominating the ball. That was totally fine. I was thinking 'do we put him on early?' or 'do we put him on now?'. I'd rather try something than not try anything.
"The team wasn't under any real danger. They weren't breaking on us at all.
"It doesn't matter if you're on for a minute. A great manager used to say to me 'if you come on in the 90th minute, and there's a minute to go, make sure you give me 90 minutes in that one minute'. That's always stuck with me. And he was a great, great manager."
Town have slipped to eighth in the League One table, with rivals Rotherham, Coventry, Sunderland, Wycombe and Fleetwood all winning today. It was put to Lambert that four wins in 22 games across all competition is not good enough for a team chasing promotion.
"No, absolutely, but we're dominating games," he replied. "It's not as if we're not dominating games. If we took our chances in the last few games we wouldn't be sitting where we are. The chances are getting created, we just have to take the chances.
"I won't never ever go out there and chastise them and throw them under the bus as they say. It's my team, I stick with them and we go again next week. We have to go and try and win games. We've still got a lot of games, seven at home. We have to win.
"We'll need to win a lot of games, which is possible because the way we are dominating games. It's not as if we're thinking 'where's it coming from?' That's not the case. Every time we start the game, every time we have the ball we look like we can score. It's just about that little bit of composure in the box. Hopefully that will come."
Reflecting further on the game, he said: "They defended the crosses well. We had some good moments. They looked to hit us on the counter but there was never that much threat. We were trying to knock on the door but it just never unlocked. If we take one or two of those chances in the first half then it becomes a totally different game.
"If we had gone in two or three up I don't think anybody would have begrudged us that."