Our last game here against Ipswich Town didn’t really go as we had hoped and for me personally, it was one I will want to forget quickly.
I’ve said already that I felt it was the wrong decision to send me off and obviously I maintain my innocence. I was having my shirt pulled all through the game and was having a frustrating time generally. But what the referee saw was me trying to push John McGreal away from me at the corner, nothing more than that.
It certainly looks worse on television than it actually was and maybe I can understand why the referee made the decision he did. Perhaps I shouldn’t have raised my hands but the referee has said he will review the video so we will have to wait and see. I certainly don’t think I deserve a three-match ban, so let’s hope that will be reduced when the situation is reviewed.
My red card certainly changed the course of the match, although to be fair I don’t think we had played particularly well in the first half. That was part of the reason for my frustration, we just didn’t perform as well as we had been doing in previous games but you have to give credit to Ipswich for that.
They set their stall out and played quite well and although people expected us to win at a canter, that was never going to be the case.
Strangely enough, once we went down to 10 men we played extremely well. We created plenty of chances in that second half and I felt we did enough to win the game. Anthony Gardner came on at half-time and played very well in difficult circumstances, he looked very assured, while Les once again looked good and caused chaos in the Ipswich defence when he came off the bench.
The most disappointing aspect of the whole match was the way we let a lead slip away and ended up losing the game. We’ve done that a few times this season now and it’s something we need to put a stop to.
But it was also frustrating to lose a bit of ground on the leaders. Had we won, we would have been right up there among the challengers and although we’re not far behind, we don’t want to lose touch with them. The way it’s going this season, every team is capable of losing any game so we have to make sure we are in a position to capitalise when it happens to sides above us.
And the Ipswich defeat showed everyone that we cannot take anything for granted. There is still a lot of hard work needed from us as a team and we mustn’t sit back and enjoy what we’ve done in the first half of the season. Now is the time to build on that and really push on and that starts today with the visit of Blackburn Rovers.
They have been one of the surprise packages in this campaign so far. Graeme Souness always gets them working really hard and I fully expect them to be in the top half of the table at the end of the season, if not challenging for a European place.
They’ve got some great players such as Damien Duff, Matt Jansen and David Dunn, who is an outstanding prospect and who could even be pushing for a place in the World Cup squad. It will be a tough game.
On behalf of all the playing and coaching staff, let me wish you all a prosperous New Year and let’s hope it starts well for us today.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and an enjoyable New Year’s Eve last night.