Kieran McKenna hails ‘committed’ display as Ipswich hit back against Sunderland

Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna praised his team’s level of commitment as they ended a five-match winless run by beating Sunderland 2-1.

The Tractor Boys trailed to Jack Clarke’s opener after 26 minutes, but Kayden Jackson levelled matters seven minutes later before Conor Chaplin completed the comeback in the 75th minute with a powerful header.

Victory sees Ipswich retain second spot in the Championship, seven points adrift of leaders Leicester who lost to Coventry, and McKenna felt it was a gutsy performance from his players.

He said: “It was a really tough game against a good side.

“They have lots of talented players with a really high technical level so it was a really hard-fought game. I thought a really strong and committed performance was needed to get the win and that’s what we gave.

“It wasn’t our smoothest performance in terms of some of our build-up and some of our connections through the pitch, but that’s normal and to be expected and it’s normal across the season.

“You’re not always going to be at your best, especially with the players we had missing and new players coming in. Things aren’t always going to be smooth, but when you’re not at your absolute highest level then you have to show the other ingredients, commitment, intensity, work rate for the team, and we certainly showed all that.

“I thought we carried a threat throughout the game and we had the better of the chances and great to get the winning goal from a set play.”

Sunderland, meanwhile, sit just outside the top six on goal difference and head coach Michael Beale admitted the result was a bitter pill to swallow.

“It was a good game between two good teams,” he said. “I thought we had enough of the game to get a result out of it.

“I thought we had two big chances before we scored in the first half, and obviously the big miss at the start of the second half, and how naive we are to give away a free-kick (for Ipswich’s winner)?

“The smallest player on the pitch has had a free header in the middle of the goal and we’ve got ourselves to blame.

“It was a good game, two good teams giving each other problems and going at each other, it was a refreshing game I thought. It would have been a good game for the neutral.

“But it’s the naivety that’s cost us the points. If we had gone up back up the road with one point, we would have had ifs and buts at the chances that we had. But to go up the road with nothing, it’s really disappointing.”