Cultured play-maker has eyes on a strong season finish.
Stephen McPhail insisted that there were plenty of positives to be taken from Saturday’s FA cup tie against Macclesfield Town, despite City’s 2-1 defeat at Moss Rose.
“We had a lot of youngsters on the pitch, but it’s disappointing to throw away such a good lead and all of the hard work that we’d put in up to the 85th minute,” said the side’s skipper.
“We’re all gutted in the dressing room because we think we should have won the game. Obviously we took a chance in not playing a lot of our senior players but the lads who played today will gain a lot of experience from it. Hopefully it will stand them in good stead for the future. We gave away a sloppy first goal – they got the ball into the box too easily and then we didn’t defend it well enough. But they did have a go at us in the last ten minutes and then the ref gave them a penalty for a shirt pull. I’m not sure if it was, but it’s a silly goal to give away, especially as we’d defended so well throughout the game.”
And on a personal note, Macca was pleased to be back in competitive action for City, saying:
“It’s nice to be back and I really enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I played for the first team so I’m delighted to get 90 minutes. I felt quite sharp and enjoyed getting on the ball. I understand that we’ve got a big squad, especially in midfield, and that the lads are performing every week. So I can’t really complain at the moment – I’ve just got to keep trying hard, like I did today, and performing when I get the chance.
“I love training, playing and being involved with the lads, especially when we’re on such a good run in the league – so we’ve got to try and keep that going over the next half of the season.”
With City now out of both domestic cup competitions, all focus will be on the Championship campaign. And McPhail was full of praise for the performances of the team in recent weeks, adding: “It’s a great a cushion to have at the top of the league. We played all the teams around us over the festive period and we’ve come away with maximum points. You couldn’t ask for anything more from the boys.
“Those who aren’t currently in the team, like myself, just need to keep pushing those that are in it. There are 20 games left so it’s a long, long way to go. There are plenty of points still up for grabs and a lot of teams that want to knock us off that top spot.”
Ipswich Town are up next at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, and Macca is expecting it to be another tough test. He continued: “Ipswich are on a bit of a roll since Mick (McCarthy) took over. I know him well as I played a few games for Ireland with him. He’s a great manager and he’s got them on a good run, so I’m sure they’ll be looking to take all three points."