EFL

Kieran McKenna hails comeback kings Ipswich on return to Championship summit

By Sports Desk April 01, 2024

Kieran McKenna hailed his comeback kings as Ipswich dug deep to seal a jaw-dropping 3-2 stoppage-time victory against Southampton to go back top of the Sky Bet Championship.

A pulsating Easter Monday clash at a packed Portman Road went down to the wire after Che Adams and Adam Armstrong had put Saints in the driving seat, having been hit by a Leif Davis’ stunner.

Nathan Broadhead levelled for Ipswich and, after Southampton full-back James Bree was sent off, fellow substitute Jeremy Sarmiento snatched victory in the seventh and final minute of stoppage-time.

That goal sparked bedlam, sending Town back to the Championship summit as McKenna’s men took their points tally from losing positions to a remarkable 31.

“It was right up there,” the Ipswich boss said. “It was another brilliant day, brilliant match to be involved in.

“A really high level, fantastic performance. Both teams did so many good things and a great day to be involved in.

“Of course when you win it with the last-minute winner like that, it’s a moment to really cherish.

“A great moment. I think everyone got a little bit lost in it – subs, staff, everyone.

“My radar still probably thinks ‘there’s 30 seconds to go so you have to get organised again’.

“We’ve had it happen to us, we’ve done it to Rotherham a month ago, so you still have to see the last ball or two out.

“But, yeah, a wonderful moment for everyone involved and one that I’m sure everyone will remember for a long time.”

Put to the former Manchester United coach that Fergie time is fast becoming McKenna time, he said with a laugh: “It’s a good habit. It doesn’t happen by chance.

“I’ve spoken with that before, everyone knows that doesn’t happen by chance and there’s a lot of work goes into it but yeah, it’s a great way to win again.”

While Ipswich celebrate long into the night, Southampton were again left wondering what might have been.

So dominant for so much of the game, their profligacy in front of goal cost them like it has so many times this season on a night that seemingly ended their automatic promotion hopes.

Saints boss Russell Martin said: “We were the best team, we didn’t deserve to lose. We came here, we had 17 shots on goal. Five huge chances, we missed three. They had relatively little until late on.

“We responded amazingly well to a poor goal to concede, so I think if you’re in the game and you’re feeling it, you’re watching it, you know we were the dominant team and we should go on to win the game.

“But we missed two massive chances and then we go down to 10 men and they take there’s.

“Even at 2-2, I thought we were going win the game and then with 10 men, David Brooks goes through in the box and squares, we nearly score.

“I’m so proud of the players, brilliant performance. If we play like that between now and the end of the season, we’ll be right in it still, I think.”

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