'We withstood a hell of a barrage' - Lambert hails new-look team's fighting qualities after 1-0 win against Rotherham
PUBLISHED: 18:07 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 13 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert hailed his players for standing up to 'a hell of a barrage' in this afternoon's 1-0 home win against fellow Championship relegation-battlers Rotherham United.
The Blues took the lead through Will Keane’s snap finish just after the half hour mark and then spent the majority of the second half, including a frantic finale, defending for their lives.
Victory closes the gap on the fourth-bottom Millers to seven points heading into next weekend’s game at Blackburn.
Asked if the over-riding feeling was one of relief, Lambert said: “Second half, yes. First half I thought we were really really good, really strong and had a lot of the ball. They made it difficult.
“Second half I don’t think there was two passes strung together, it was just long balls, throw-ins and set-plays. The pleasing thing is we defended fantastically.”
When it was put to him that the result was probably more important than the performance today, he said: “To an extent, I still want to play good football, but the ball would never come down. It was never out of the air. You’ve got to deal with that and I thought we dealt with that really, really well.”
Lambert handed league debuts to Callum Elder, James Collins, Collin Quaner and Keane from the start as well as Simon Dawkins off the bench, while Cole Skuse returned to the team following a seven-game injury absence.
“I thought James Collins, and all of the new lads, were excellent,” said the Blues boss.
“It’s a massive compliment to him for wanting to be here. He’s been training with West Ham a little bit, but to come and do what he did today was unbelievable.
“Will Keane’s a great finisher; I saw that when he was at Preston on loan. He was at Man United when they were at their best, he knows the game and he’s a really, really good finisher. I think anything that comes his way he’ll stick it in.
“All of the new lads did well given they’ve not played for a long time. That was a million per cent a factor in the second half, I knew that would be the case, but we had to get players in to help.
“They are not match fit, they’ve not played a lot of football, but they will get fitter and up to match speed.
“They’ve given everybody a lift. You could hear it in the atmosphere. I would love to hear what it’s like if we were sitting at the top end of the table. Nobody would be able to buy a ticket for this place.”
Having switched from a traditional 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 system, Lambert explained: “I thought we needed that physical presence, with Will just behind Collin, because I knew it would be that type of game. First half we were excellent. Second half we certainly needed that height.
“First half we played really well, second half we withstood a hell of a barrage – even their throw-ins were hitting the middle of the six-yard box. That’s a really powerful weapon that they’ve got.
“Football-wise, second half, we can do a lot better. First half we controlled the game. That’s Cole (Skuse’s) first game for more than a month, so he’ll get better as well. Trevoh (Chalobah) missed last week as well. So there are a lot of lads not quite up to speed.”
On captain Luke Chambers, who appeared to play through the pain of a wrist injury sustained in a heavy fall over a metal perimeter gate in the first half, Lambert said: “Luke’s alright. I never really worry about him. He’s always there and I trust him. I trust all the lads, but Luke is there week-in, week-out and he’s been absolutely brilliant for me since I came.
“The older lads, the more experienced lads at the club sometimes get overlooked and taken for granted. Him and Cole, Bart, Deano, the lads I inherited, have been terrific. I’ve just tried to give them a bit of help with Collins, Qunaer and Keane.”
The EADT and Ipswich Star understands Lambert has shown interest in Brentford midfielder Alan Judge, the Republic of Ireland midfielder having been left out of the Bees squad today.
“I don’t know where that one has come from,” said the Blues boss, those reports having initially emerged in the national press. “I’ve just woken up to that one this morning. I know of the lad, he’s a really good player, but I’ve not... We can’t do another loan. Managing six loans is too much and I don’t want to go down that road. Then you have to leave one lad out.”
When it was put to Lambert that Judge may be available to buy given he is due to be out of contract this summer, he replied: “Is it? I don’t know. I didn’t really pay much attention to it because of the game... He’s a good player, a really good player.”
Not a single one of predecessor Paul Hurst’s permanent signings were named in the starting XI today and 10 senior players were left out of the squad completely.
“I think one or two lads probably will go on loan,” said Lambert. “I think that is right for them. You can’t curtail that. We needed help and there was no other way we could do it.”