'I thought we shaded it' - McKenna on MK Dons draw

We are not worthy: Kieran McKenna waves to the thousands of Town fans who made the trip to MK Dons.

We are not worthy: Kieran McKenna waves to the thousands of Town fans who made the trip to MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna believes his team shaded this afternoon's 0-0 draw at MK Dons.

Two of League One's most in-form sides couldn't be separated, with the Dons staying third and ninth-place Town moving to within five points of the play-off places.

"I think I'd say we shaded it," said McKenna. "I don't know if Liam (Manning) would say differently.

"I thought the first half was even stevens with two good teams trying to impose their style. 

"They started the game better than us, there were a few different little tactical issues in the first 15 minutes that we had to solve on the pitch, then we got on top of that pretty well and had the next 15/20 minutes of the game and had some good chances. They then finished off the first half strongly.

"Second half I thought we went through the gears with our performance levels, we took control of the large majority and we built some good pressure, dominated the ball, had most of it in their half and, again, had some decent opportunities.

"It's a point we can't cry about, but I thought we shaded it in terms of the better chances in the game. I think it would have been just deserved if we had nicked that one."

Kieran McKenna applauds the thousands of Town fans who made the trip to MK Dons.

Kieran McKenna applauds the thousands of Town fans who made the trip to MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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The Northern Irishman continued: "There were good technical players on the pitch and both teams had their spells. It was the type of game we expected. 

"The pitch doesn't really suit either team, so that made it more of a challenge to be quite as free-flowing with some of the one-touch football that we'd be able to produce on a better surface.

"I thought it was a good advert for the technical and tactical level of the league."

With Town having now kept clean sheets in six of McKenna's opening nine games in charge, the Blues boss said: "It's important. I thought our organisation was good from front to back. Their only chances, really, were one or two on the break and some balls in the box at the end. 

"We want to score goals. Today I thought we were value for at least a goal, but if it doesn't come then make sure you don't concede and take a point.

"When you've seen some games out it gives you that extra bit of confidence to do it again. There are a few things we're doing with the back line that helps. I think we have a very good goalkeeper (Christian Walton) on crosses when people are trying to load up the box.

"We feel like if we stay organised and concentrated we can get clean sheets."

Kayden Jackson with a chance but he was already caught offside at MK Dons.

Kayden Jackson with a chance but he was already caught offside at MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

On his decision to start Kayden Jackson as the lone striker, McKenna explained: "I think it was clear from his performance why. He gives us different attributes to all of our other forwards. All of our forwards work hard without the ball, but he's really unique with his ability to press centre-halves and goalkeepers. 

"We knew it was going to be important to have a threat in behind to stretch their line and create a bit more space for Celina and Chaplin. I thought he done that. There were times when he made good runs and made space for the 10s. 

"Obviously he got through on goal a couple of times himself with really good movement behind.

"The other thing was the transition threat. We felt that was something we haven't had in a couple of games away from home and we really wanted to have that today. We knew that MK would open the pitch up and we'd get some regains. I thought we had a counter threat all through the game with Wes (Burns) and Jacko's pace.

"I thought he put in a really good performance. He is going to be an important player for us."

On his decision to bring on strikers Macauley Bonne and James Norwood in an attempt won win the game, McKenna said: "We wanted to win. We said from the start when we came in that we're not too interested in draws. With the position we're in we want to go and win games and if we lose a couple along the way then so be it.

Big numbers of Town fans at MK Dons.

Big numbers of Town fans at MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

"I think we threw everything we could at it with Macauley and Nors coming on. There were a few good chances in and around them that we weren't able to capitilise on.

"I thought we didn't play the last 10 minutes partciularly well, we forced a few things centrally when really we should have worked the wide areas and crossed it a bit more, but we'll look at that.

"We wanted the win, we weren't happy with 0-0 and we tried everything with the personnel we could to turn it into a win. It just wasn't meant to be."

On the return of Sam Morsy to the midfield, following the captain's four-game suspension, McKenna said: "It was a high level game, so we needed him. He makes a difference for us and gives us an extra dimension. 

"He's definitely the most capable of being able to take the ball in deep areas and drive through the pitch. He gives us that extra bit of thrust.

"He showed his competitiveness and leadership. I was disappointed with the yellow card at the end, I think he hardly made a tackle in the game so for me it feels like as soon as he makes a tackle it's a yellow card, which I don't quite understand. I thought there were worse challenges in the game."

Sam Morsy back in action for Ipswich after suspension at MK Dons.

Sam Morsy back in action for Ipswich after suspension at MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

With a draw ending a pattern of WWL, WWL since his arrival, McKenna said: "I wouldn't have taken a draw beforehand and I wouldn't have taken it all through the game. We wanted to win.

"Breaking that pattern of win, win, loss isn't a big one for me.

"What I do take from it is that I thought our performance level went up a notch from the two games that we haven't won - the Bolton and Sheffield Wednesday games. Neither of them were bad performances, both of them we had good control and played some good football, but we didn't have as much of a threat as what we'd want in those games and we didn't keep a clean sheet.

"Today I thought we had more threat in the transition, more threat in behind, had more chances than in those previous games and we managed to find the extra concentration levels to keep the clean sheet."

With Town backed by close to 7,000 away fans, the Blues boss added: "Honestly it was humbling to see, humbling to be part of, humbling to represent the club that has the highest away fanbase of any club in the EFL this year. I thought it was incredible.

"Not just the numbers, but the atmosphere, the noise and the way they supported the team. It didn't feel like we had one end, it felt like we had half the stadium.

"It gave us a real good boost in the second half when we were playing that way. I felt that attacking that end would see our performance go up a notch. We managed to get really good pressure around their goal second half. I'm just sorry we weren't able to get the goal at that end and the result that the fanbase deserved.

"We really appreciate it. All we can say is that we'll keep working every day to keep improving the club and keep improving the team and hopefully deliver success over the next few years."