Ipswich Town boss sends promotion message to Leeds United as refereeing bemoaned in defeat

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Ipswich dropped to fourth in the Championship this weekend with Leeds United and Southampton both winning.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna insists his side can't 'use up energy' focusing on the likes of Leeds United and Southampton after dropping more points at Preston North End on Saturday.

Ipswich fell to fourth in the Championship table on a weekend that saw them lose 3-2 at Deepdale, despite a late fightback and two goals from January signing Kieffer Moore. The Tractor Boys were two down inside eight minutes and 3-0 behind at half-time on a woeful day for the second-tier surprise package.

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That defeat came at the same time as Southampton's comfortable 2-0 win at Rotherham, a result which extended their club-record unbeaten streak to 21 games. On Friday, Leeds picked up a fifth straight league win by beating Bristol City 1-0 but as those two kicked on and Ipswich faltered, McKenna refused to write off his side's chances of automatic promotion.

"Look, there's 46 games," he said after defeat at Preston. "That's only the fourth game we've lost in the league this year. It's a fantastic effort. We know it's not all going to be sunny days.

"There are teams around us with fantastic squads in incredible form and if we use up any of our energy focusing on them we won't have the required energy to be competitive every week."

Ipswich suffered a nightmare start to their game at Deepdale with Will Keane's speculative long-range effort taking a massive deflection and wrong-footing goalkeeper Václav Hladký. Preston doubled their lead through a George Edmundson own-goal minutes later but Emil Riis Jakobsen looked to have been offside in the build up and McKenna bemoaned the officiating after full-time.

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"The first goal is a shot from maybe 30 yards that takes a big deflection, the second goal is two yards offside," the Ipswich boss added. "It's so clear, it can't not be given by the linesman. George [Edmundson] has made an aggressive decision to step up, but it's the right decision when the striker is two yards offside. The linesman can't miss it. 

"Look, it's disappointing not to get the win. We've not had as many wins lately as we would like (one in eight in the league), but we've also not lost many games, we're competitive every week, the group keeps fighting to the end of each game and those qualities will stand us in good stead. We'll continue to work and come back stronger."

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