Former Man Utd coach oversees eight-game winning run without conceding a goal amid tight promotion fight

Kieran McKenna left Manchester United for Ipswich Town in December 2021 and is eyeing promotion in his first full season
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Former Manchester United first-team coach Kieran McKenna is seven games from securing promotion with League One Ipswich Town after an eight-match winning run without conceding a goal.

McKenna’s side secured a 4-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers on Good Friday to go above Sheffield Wednesday into second and two points behind Plymouth Argyle in first.

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Ipswich have played a game fewer than Sheffield Wednesday, with both sides level on points but McKenna’s side occupy the second automatic promotion place on goal difference.

McKenna’s first job in coaching was with Tottenham Hotspur Under-18s before he moved to take up the same role at Man United in 2016.

He remained in that position until July 2018 when he was promoted to first-team coach at Old Trafford. He departed midway through last season after being appointed as Ipswich manager.

McKenna’s men beat Wycombe in his first game in charge as he quickly turned Ipswich’s form around with seven wins in his first 10 games and oversaw an 11-game unbeaten run through February and March - as they set a new club record for most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.

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Ipswich finished 11th in McKenna’s first half season and this term are fighting for promotion, having sat fourth and eight points behind Wednesday before the first win of their eight-game winning run - a 4-0 victory over Forest Green on February 18.

Since drawing 2-2 with the Owls on February 11, Ipswich have not conceded a goal in nine league games, while picking up 25 points from a possible 27.

They had played a game more than Darren Moore’s side when they were eight points adrift, but are now level on points having played a game fewer - with the Owls winless in six league games.

After their win over Wycombe put their promotion fate firmly in their own hands, McKenna reflected: “It was a good day’s work in the end. It wasn’t an easy game. Of course it looks like a comfortable win in the end, but we know as a group it’s all the little details and the sacrifice and the work that goes into winning any game in this league.

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“We are just happy to come through it with a good result and a good performance.

“It took us a little bit of time at the start of the game. Wycombe put one or two extra defensive-minded players in the team and set up in a way to make it difficult for us and it wasn’t easy and we had to be patient, trying to find a solution, find the spare man and the ways we could hurt the back line.

“But we did that better as the half went on and of course when you get the first goal from the set-play that’s always a great start at home and from there we pushed on.”

League One top six - Saturday, April 8

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