North Stander: Best part of the draw at Dons? McKenna wasn't happy with it

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

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt offers his latest thoughts on the Blues after a 0-0 draw against high-flying MK Dons...

I am more impressed with Kieran McKenna with every game. Ok, we didn’t win at MK Dons, but we more than matched our high-flying hosts to edge a bit closer to those play-off places.

As far as goalless draws go, this was definitely a good one. Nothing like those dreadful games we choose to forget from the Mick McCarthy era - park the bus, no such thing as a bad away point, and all that tiresome stuff.

No, this was a McKenna goalless draw. Much more enterprising, forward-thinking, creating chances. All we lacked was a goal in front of the incredible 7,000 strong blue and white army.

Big numbers of Town fans at MK Dons.

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

I like the way McKenna sets up his team, and his tactics, specifically to exploit the weaknesses of the opposition. He is a real thinking coach, and it’s certainly working so far.

When he makes changes, it’s for a reason, it’s not the apparently illogical tinkering from the Paul Lambert days, and it’s a million miles from the oh-so-rigid system which Paul Cook used in every match, with very little reward.

Who would have predicted that Kayden Jackson would start at MK Dons? There was a sharp intake of breath among many fans when the teams were announced. But McKenna believed Jackson’s pace was the ideal weapon on this particular occasion.

Kayden Jackson goes past Tennai Watson at MK Dons.

Kayden Jackson goes past Tennai Watson at MK Dons. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Personally, I don’t think Jackson is a good enough footballer to succeed at this level. Yes, he has pace, but very little else. But then I don’t see him in training every day like the manager. In McKenna we trust.

The stats under the new manager are astonishing, especially defensively. Playing three at the back in front of the exemplary Christian Walton is giving us such a solid base. That’s six clean sheets in McKenna’s nine games, and no goals conceded in the last three. What a contrast to the sieve-like defending under Cook!

But, coming back to the goalless draw on Saturday, the best part of all was hearing that McKenna wasn’t satisfied with it. No “every point a prisoner” smugness from him. He was clearly disappointed. Great stuff.

We’re averaging just over two points a game under the new gaffer (although I hear he doesn’t like being called “gaffer” - he prefers “Kieran.” Again, a nice modern touch.)

If we keep up that points per game average for the remainder of the season, we will finish with 76 points. Would that be enough to sneak into the top six? It would have been last season...just.

We’ve now got a real chance to keep up the momentum, with five games against teams in the bottom half, starting with two home games. I believe we can do it, but it will be tight. At least the season isn’t just fading away.

My one concern is our lack of goals. It’s been a problem since Macauley Bonne’s goalscoring spree ground to a shuddering halt. While he was scoring in just about every game, we were fine.

Now, we’re relying on goals from the likes of Wes Burns and Conor Chaplin to bail out our misfiring strikers. McKenna has tried the “Bash Brothers” of Bonne and James Norwood, he’s given Joe Pigott a chance, and now he’s brought Kayden Jackson back from his lengthy spell in footballing Siberia.

So far, none of them have really clicked. We’re getting results, yes, mainly by keeping things tight at the back and winning by small margins. We definitely need more of a goal threat.

The one striker we haven’t seen, either starting or on the bench, is Tyreece Simpson. The youngster came back from a really successful loan spell at Swindon in slightly mysterious circumstances, with the move being as explained as a “contractual issue.”

We haven’t been told precisely what that means but, assuming he is able to play, surely he’s worth putting on the bench as an impact sub to come on and shake things up with 20 minutes to go?

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

The last word must go to the magnificent travelling support. To take nearly 7,000 fans away to a League One game is simply magnificent. After more than 20 years of almost constant setbacks and disappointments, that loyalty is utterly extraordinary.

Well played to all those supporters. You deserve so much more than League One football. Under this manager, I truly believe you will get your rewards.