Ipswich Town host Oxford United in Monday’s game. Stuart Watson spoke to goalkeeper Christian Walton about the upcoming festive period.
As a boy, Christian Walton would often spend Boxing Day at Home Park cheering on his beloved Plymouth Argyle.
Now, aged 27, the Cornish-born goalkeeper is part of an Ipswich Town team seeking to knock the Hajjaj off the top of League One over the festive period.
The Blues host Oxford United on Monday, then travel to Portsmouth (December 29) and Lincoln (January 2). Plymouth, who lead by two points, face Cheltenham (away), Wycombe (home) and MK Dons (home).
“I get a weird message from a Plymouth fan on Instagram or something,” he says with a smile, before moving on to the conversation and making a point where his loyalty lies.
“I signed here permanently in January and this year has been one of the most exciting times of my career.
“Playing in front of fans at Portman Road is one of the highlights.
“It’s been a good year for me and I want to continue that in the new year.
“Promotion is everyone’s goal and we will work towards that over the next few months.
“It would have been better if we were at the top at Christmas, but we’re going to finish second. It’s a good position to be in and we want to build on it.”
For the three matches in the next eight days, Walton said: “We’ll be training all through Christmas. I don’t think any of the guys are going to over-celebrate! We’ll just have to focus on Boxing Day first and the rest will take care of itself.”
“It’s a good opportunity to collect points in a short period of time. Christmas games have prepared you well for January and the months to come.
“There’s a good atmosphere around the club. We just had Christmas lunch with all the staff who work on the training ground, the office people, the secretaries, all that kind of stuff. That was great.
“Monday is another big opportunity for us, another big crowd at Portman Road which is great to see. They will be behind us and we’ll want to give them a performance.”
Reflecting on last week’s 1-0 defeat at Wycombe, which was only the third league loss of the season, Walton said: “I thought we did everything right. Everything we worked on and I was asked to do I thought we did well and we delivered. We will.” .
“But we didn’t get the goals to win the game and the goal we conceded was obviously disappointing. When we control the ball for long periods we have to make sure we stay focused and don’t give them too much. To be fair though, the lad did well for the goal.” .
He continued: “The three defeats we suffered, I don’t think we played badly in any of them.
“Plymouth (2-1) could have gone the other way. Lincoln (1-0 at home), we obviously had 30 tries on goal or whatever. Again, last Saturday we dominated possession.
“I know that doesn’t necessarily win you games, but I thought we played really well. It’s one of those things that don’t really understand how we didn’t get something out of the game. But that’s football.
“Three defeats is probably not a bad record given the number of games we’ve played. The first half of the season looked really positive. It was really fun to play a part in.
“I don’t think you can be too disappointed or lose because the next game always comes so fast.
“Monday will be an opportunity to put things right and put in a good performance.”
Ipswich kept 25 clean sheets during McKenna’s first year in charge, but only had one (2-0 at Exeter) in their last seven league matches.
“I want to keep as many clean sheets as possible, as do the players in front of me,” Walton said.
“I don’t think there’s one specific thing. I think it’s just lapses of focus, individual mistakes… It could be a number of different things.
“We want to get back on the clean sheet track that we’ve been working on. It’s disappointing that we haven’t had one in the league since Exeter. Hopefully over these next three games we can add to our clean sheet tally.”
It remains to be seen who plays in defense against Oxford given Janoy Donatsen (ankle), Luke Wallenden (thigh), Richard Keogh (calf) and George Edmundson (knee) have all been plagued by injuries of late.
“We all have a good understanding of each other,” Walton insisted.
“It’s a really good defensive unit to be a part of. Anyone can step in at any time and do a really good job. I enjoy playing with all of them.”
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