Soccer

Kieran McKenna hails ‘complete’ away day display as Ipswich beat Middlesbrough

Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna enjoyed a ‘complete’ away day (Ian Hodgson/PA)
Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna enjoyed a ‘complete’ away day (Ian Hodgson/PA) Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna enjoyed a ‘complete’ away day (Ian Hodgson/PA)

Kieran McKenna believes Ipswich’s 2-0 victory at Sky Bet Championship play-off contenders Middlesbrough was the result of a “complete” away day performance.

The Tractor Boys scored a goal in each half to secure a third straight win and stay a point behind leaders Leicester – even though goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky had to make a few important saves.

Ipswich are also 18 points clear of seventh place after 20 matches and the festive period approaching, with McKenna wanting his side to keep going.

The impressive Conor Chaplin’s eighth goal of the season put Ipswich on track nine minutes before half-time when his half-volley deflected off Matt Clarke and flew in.

And 20-year-old substitute Omari Hutchinson, who had only been on the pitch five minutes, finished brilliantly after he had been put through by Chaplin with 23 minutes left to seal the win.

Ipswich manager McKenna said: “This was a really complete performance, especially for an away game. We controlled most elements of the game, high and low, out of possession and in possession.

“The only thing I think we could have done better was we should have created cleaner chances. First half we should have done that with the moments we had.

“We were good value for the first goal. The second goal was very important. Defensively we felt in control, but at 1-0 anything can happen. It was a big goal and I am delighted for Omari.

“That was a good team goal. The execution of the finish for a young player was good too. It was a nice combination and a nice finish.

“There was also a really good performance for the keeper. His composure on the ball helps our build-up in the first phase and he made some big saves. He was there when we needed him”

McKenna and Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick are good friends from their time together as coaches at Manchester United.

And Carrick was left frustrated that his side could not find the extra gear in the final third to cause more problems for Ipswich.

Carrick, who had nine players ruled out, said: “I’m disappointed obviously. We knew coming into this that they are a good team. We had to be at our best to get a result. We were a little short on a number of things, we were not quite firing.

“Second half we were better in terms of pressing, regains, and I fancied us to get back into it and then the second goal came. We did try to press and left some space, that was the way we went in the second half. That was their second shot on target.

“I feel for the boys in there because of the effort, they just lacked the fine edge, the quality in the bigger moments.

“Both boxes are what makes the difference, everything in between gives you a chance. We just didn’t quite have that little bit extra.”

Carrick, who has nine players ruled out, said: “We have a number of games coming up. We would like everyone to choose from, we will try to get everyone back.

“That’s the challenge we have. It is not easy. There are challenges we face and we have to make the best of it. All the boys have different timeframes, a few are touch and go for Wednesday (against Hull), we will see.”