Ipswich Town midfielder Massimo Luongo was keen to take the positives from his side’s performance in their 3-2 defeat to Preston North End, although he admitted that there are areas they will need to improve on as quickly as possible.

The Blues were 3-0 down at half time thanks to a brace from Will Keane and an own-goal from George Edmundson, which meant that they had a mountain to climb in the second half.

Kieffer Moore certainly helped them attempt that after the break, but his brace wasn’t enough to see Town leave with a result, dropping them out of the top two for the first time in months.

“I think it was a bit of a sucker punch, for sure,” Luongo said after the match. “Looking back on it, maybe we were half a yard off transitions and stuff like that, hence the first two goals.

“The boss said we weren’t far off it. We played some good stuff, we were doing the right things in terms of on-the-ball. We lost the game in areas where we were a little bit vulnerable on the counter, and they punished us.

“Going forward, we still tried to do the same thing. We came out and had a good little spell of possession, them we lost the ball and we were 2-0 down.

“We didn’t stop, I know we were tired. Coming here is tough anyway, like I said before the game, but being 2-0 down makes it even tougher.

Ipswich Star: Luongo returned to the starting lineup after missing the defeat to Maidstone UnitedLuongo returned to the starting lineup after missing the defeat to Maidstone United (Image: Pagepix)

“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, not bring any negative vibes, and keep pushing.”

For large parts, the match was quite familiar for Ipswich fans. Their side didn’t play well in the first half, although there were occasional signs that they were still in the game, but they improved drastically after the break.

They’ve won more points from losing positions than any other team in the division, but doing that from 3-0 down always felt like a bridge too far, although Luongo stressed that they always believed they could do it.

“At 2-0, we were well in the game,” he argued. “We thought if we could get one this side of the half, we could just push on.

“You’ve seen plenty of games where you score just before the half and the momentum is with you. I felt like we were in that situation, creating good things. Our final-third stuff was just a bit off today.

“There were a few bobbles in the wrong areas. I remember getting one and it just bobbled on my knee, I lost the ball.

“I think the belief was there after the second goal. On the ball, it wasn’t a tough game. They did well tactically, but I felt like we could’ve opened them up a bit better. We were on the verge of doing that, then the third goal came.

“We had to get in at half time, change a few things, figure it out and probably go more attacking.

Ipswich Star: The midfielder believes that Kieffer Moore will play an important part for the Blues in the second half of the seasonThe midfielder believes that Kieffer Moore will play an important part for the Blues in the second half of the season (Image: Ross Halls)

“We started the second half really well. Kieffer came on and suddenly we had another option going forward. When we’re wide, we haven’t used that stand-up ball for the first goal a lot. Suddenly he adds that aspect to our game. He adds that aspect to our game.

“The belief was there, it was there the whole game. It was just that sucker punch at the beginning.”

The outside noise will be ramping up in the next week. Town have won just one of their last eight league games and now sit fourth in the Championship, with Leicester City, Southampton and Leeds United in pole position to challenge for automatic promotion to the Premier League.

The players tried to block out the significant praise that came their way earlier in the season, and they’ll make sure to do the same when it comes to criticism. Luongo knows how important it will be for them to stay level-headed, with 17 games remaining to show that they can compete for a top-two finish.

“We don’t go into games thinking that we need to win because of where we are, we need to open the gap or so and so is behind us,” he explained. “We go into the game with a game plan. The manager and the coaching staff have done an incredible job to get us where we are and get us playing how we are.

“It makes it a lot easier on matchday. The pressure is off us because he takes all the pressure, and we’ve just got to implement what he wants us to do and what we’ve been practicing.

Ipswich Star: More than 3,400 Town fans made the trip up to DeepdaleMore than 3,400 Town fans made the trip up to Deepdale (Image: Pagepix)

“We do that, but the other teams aren’t going to roll over and let us do it. They obviously make it a big challenge.

“We’ve just got to keep going. The support has been great, like today, wow, amazing. I think they appreciate the comeback.

“Obviously they don’t want to see us 3-0 down at half time, but if you watch that game, you’ll see we had fight and desperately wanted to get back in. We played some good stuff.

“We never worry about what people say, we’ll just get our heads down and worry about next Saturday.”