Royle tells defence to tighten up

MANAGER Joe Royle remains concerned by Ipswich Town's defensive frailties after the 1-1 draw at West Ham.“We will always score goals,” insisted Royle.

MANAGER Joe Royle remains concerned by Ipswich Town's defensive frailties after the 1-1 draw at West Ham.

“We will always score goals,” insisted Royle. “But we rarely have the luxury of yards of space in which to work like West Ham had for their goal.

“I said from the first day I arrived at Portman Road nearly two years ago that we needed to be tighter at the back.

“Last season we conceded far too many goals, but this season has seen an improvement.

“We still have some way to go however and at times we still defend like happy amateurs.

“It is not just the back four that has to defend, the rest of the team have a part to play as well.

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“And the lad who crossed the ball for the West Ham goal virtually had the freedom of the park.

“Our front two did nothing for us defensively in the first period and our midfield let them through.

“I said at half-time that we had to defend properly - and we improved greatly.

“It was a terrific second half for us and when we scored I thought we would go on and win. Darren Bent struck the bar, and we were very close to three points.

“But overall I cannot argue that a draw was a fair result. If they had put their penalty away it would have been very difficult for us.”

Royle had praise for goalscorer Counago, who was given his first league start of the season.

“Pablo was better, but there is more to come from him,” said Royle. “With two big central defenders to play against I thought he could do a job for us on the ground with balls to his feet.

“He is still not fit enough to play 90 minutes, and he hit a wall after 70 minutes.”

Royle is likely to rest one or two of his players for tomorrow's Carling Cup game at League One Doncaster, but Counago is set to get another start.

West Ham manager Alan Pardew said: “Both teams had purple patches. We scored and missed a penalty in ours and Ipswich scored in theirs.

“Kelvin Davis did well in the play-offs against us, and he played well again. After Ipswich equalised we never really looked like scoring again ourselves.

“We had to be on our toes as Darren Bent is one of the best strikers in the division. I thought we played him well.

“Some of our fans booed at the end, but they should remember some of our first-half football, which was sublime.”

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