19 September 2023

Kieran McKenna full of praise for Ipswich matchwinner Omari Hutchinson

19 September 2023

Kieran McKenna heaped praise on Ipswich matchwinner Omari Hutchinson after his side climbed up to second in the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 win at Southampton.

Hutchinson’s first goal for the Tractor Boys 15 minutes before half-time was enough to lead McKenna’s side to a fourth successive away victory and a sixth in seven games.

The Chelsea loanee, 19, had taken the ball off Shea Charles with a perfectly-timed slide tackle before exchanging passes with Conor Chaplin and slotting in off the inside of a post.

Manager McKenna said: “It’s great night for him. It was his first start in the league as a professional footballer.

“What a big night, what a place to do it and what opposition to do it against.

“He’s making great progress and I joked with him that he wouldn’t have thought two months ago his first goal as a professional would come from a sliding tackle, but that’s what happened.

“He showed his improvement off the ball, won the ball back for us and he’s got the agility to get up on his feet quickly and produce a great finish.

“It was an outstanding performance and was never going to be anything other than hard-fought because of the quality of the opposition.

“We tried to meet them on the pitch on an even keel and tried to play football, to be brave and to press them and stay brave on the ball.

“We are not looking to dampen anything. The fans are going to enjoy these special moments and dream.

“For us it’s about staying in the moment. We are enjoying the journey that we are on from last season, but internally we know how hard it is to sustain.”

Ipswich had the better of the first half with Chaplin seeing an early goal ruled out for a foul and hitting the crossbar.

Saints could have equalised four minutes into the second half when Che Adams was sent clean through only to be denied by Ipswich goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky.

After a positive start to the season following relegation from the Premier League, Saints have now lost their last three games.

Home boss Russell Martin, whose side were booed off by their fans, said: “We gave away a sloppy goal and have been punished for a mistake again.

“That will not keep happening and we will move forward.

“I actually thought we started the game really well but we got sucker-punched for a mistake with the goal.

“We did not react well enough to that or quickly enough. In the second half we gave everything and had the best chance which unfortunately Che missed.”

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