West Suffolk and south Norfolk-based Ipswich Town fans were left scratching their heads as often controversial manager Steve Evans launched what was seen as a veiled attack on Mick McCarthy’s side after the Blues came-from-behind to win 2-1 last night.
The injury-time winner from Brett Pitman at Portman Road ended United’s eight-match unbeaten run to move Town up to fifth in the table, while also serving to push their Yorkshire opponents 12 points away from the top six in the Sky Bet Championship.
But Evans, who has previously courted controversy during his spells managing Rotherham United, Crawley Town, Stamford and Boston United, has refused to concede defeat in the battle for the play-offs.
And one comment about the Tractor Boys, despite him saying he did not mean it disrespectfully, provoked plenty of interest on social media and Internet forums.
“We’re not giving up because if we win on Saturday and Ipswich don’t win then it’s a different ball-game again,” he said after it came to light home stewards had to restrain him at the end of the match, at the referee, Frederick Graham’s, request, before he felt he could go down the tunnel.
“Our season’s alive. When I came in there was the fear of going down and that’s not the case now.
“I’m not saying we played well but if we’d got a point tonight then people would have said it was a good point – and they wouldn’t be saying we’re out of it.”
He then added: “Ipswich were as bad in spells as we were but if you switch off then you get punished.
“Our quality was poor and it’s very evident that we need better players.
“But if the benchmark to get in the play-offs is Ipswich Town then three players could change us.
“With three quality players we’d come here and deal with it quite comfortably. That’s no disrespect, they work so hard for their manager, but if that’s the benchmark then we’ll take that benchmark.”
Fans took to Twitter immediately after the comments began to filter out from the press conference, which Evans had insisted on doing on the pitch, instead of the usual protocol of manager making their way up to the Media Suite at the top of a flight of stairs.
No reason had been given to reporters as to why Evans had insisted on not venturing up, though it did mean less reporters were able to question him as they worked to tight deadlines for the next morning’s papers in the Media Suite.
One comment on Twitter, from @Super_Frans read: “If his team is 12 points off “nothing special”, he’s got a bit of a problem.”
Another, from @SFisher80 read: “@russclaydon @PhilHayYEP this makes the win even sweeter. Disgraceful bloke, disgraceful club #itfc #lufc #wealllovealanlee”
The game, watched by a crowd of 19,146, including 1,259 in the Leeds end, saw Suffolk Police mount a big police presence as the force called in officers from around the county who were due not to be on shift, with police dog units also at the game.
Some fans were not even in their seats for the first goal, with Souleymane Doukara goal on 13 seconds – the second-fastest goal in United’s history and the quickest in the Football League this season – to snatch a 2-1 victory with a Luke Chambers header and an injury-time strike from Brett Pitman.
Pitman came off the bench to score at the very end of a second half which Ipswich controlled and a frustrating result pushed Leeds 12 points adrift of the Championship’s top six ahead of a televised Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough this weekend.
Ipswich entertain Preston North End in the third game at Portman Road in a week on Saturday (3pm), having come-from-behind again to snatch another chance in the FA Cup this season with a 2-2 draw with League Two Portsmouth ensuring they have a chance of hosting Barclays Premier League side Bournemouth at home in the fourth round.
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- Check back on this website from 5pm for Ipswich Town columnist Russell Claydon’s take on a busy week at Portman Road.