7th? May 7 is the key, says Mac
IPSWICH Town stuttered to a dour draw with improving Preston, failing to take advantage of some shock scorelines and slipping out of the top six in the process.
Yet Mick McCarthy has been around the block enough times to know his side are well placed to feature in the play-offs for a second consecutive season.
They were forced to once again come back from a horrendous start before slugging out a second half against a gritty Preston side who deserved their point.
But McCarthy was satisfied after his side’s battling qualities again came to the fore in a hard-fought match which saw both teams denied golden chances to win the game by referee Simon Hooper.
After seeing his side slip to a place outside the play-offs, McCarthy said:“We are seventh but it is all about May 7th.
“We might be out of the top six but there are 19 games left to play. I’m not worried about that.We have been on a fabulous run and the lads have been different class.
“We have just been stopped in our tracks a little by a very good team. It was a real tough Championship match. They were hard to break down but you can’t win them all. If we can’t win matches, then the most important thing is we don’t lose them.We had to eke out a point – so we will take that.”
After conceding the Championship’s quickest goal of the season in midweek, Ipswich’s rearguard held firm for just seven minutes when both Jonas Knudsen and Christophe Berra failed to get dis- tance on their headed clearances and Daniel Johnson continued his fine scoring season at the second attempt.
It was no more than Preston’s enterprising start deserved and they almost added to their tally against shell-shocked opponents, with Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner going close in the first half.
Out of nothing, Ipswich levelled seven minutes before the interval when a neat period of patient passing ended with Daryl Murphy finding the corner of the net with a precise and powerful low drive.
It should have been game on in the second half but it was nothing of the sort with neither side getting the ball down.That said, both could have won it, in terms of chances and contentious moments.
Murphy brought out a decent save from Sam Johnstone while Bailey Wright headed just wide at the other end.
Referee Hooper and his assistants came to the fore, controversially flagging Eoin Doyle offside when he played in Ben Pearson to score, and then denying Ipswich a late penalty when Luke Hyam’s shot appeared to be blocked by the arm of Paul Huntingdon.
But Preston boss Paul Grayson was impressed with his side’s showing.
“I thought we performed really well and there were a lot of positives to take,”he said. “You have to stand up against Mick McCarthy’s teams but we started the game really well and could have had more than the one goal.
“The offside was really tight and we don’t have the technology to draw a line across the pitch. They were either level or maybe half-ayard offside.
“They asked questions of us in the second half but I thought we deserved the point and I am pleased with it.
“I certainly can’t ask any more of the players than what they are doing.”