Ipswich Town 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
Tony Mowbray admitted there were no excuses for his side's disappointing defeat against his former club Ipswich Town.
While West Bromwich Albion hammered the Tractor Boys 4-0 at The Hawthorns in September, it was a different matter at Portman Road yesterday, where Jim Magilton's side are unbeaten this season.
Mowbray refused to blame fatigue as a factor in his side's poor second-half showing, despite the fact that they had played four games in ten days.
He said: "We are obviously disappointed. We were below par but you have to give Ipswich a lot of credit for working incredibly hard. We weren't tired and there are no excuses. They have played the same amount of games as us. This is how football is and no-one is getting carried away at our football club. I have been saying all week that it is the media building up the team just because we score lots of goals and are top of the table.
"We have to focus on winning the next game and keep going. It wasn't our worst performance of the season. When this team plays well, we are very, very good. When we don't function, teams like Ipswich, who work hard all over the field, give us problems.
"I am happy enough with this squad of players. We have plenty of competition all over the pitch. We have an honest group of players and we just have to keep working hard. They have to just keep doing what they do week in, week out.
"We didn't function as well as a team today and didn't pass the ball as well as we can. You have to give Ipswich credit for working extremely hard in midfield to stop our fluency. They have an excellent home record and credit to them."
Albion remain top of the Championship on goal difference ahead of Watford and Bristol City and Magilton is backing the Baggies and his former Ipswich team-mates, Mowbray and assistant manager Mark Venus, to go all the way and reach the Premiership.
He said: "I don't think we could have kicked off the new year with a tougher test than against West Brom. They are the best team we have played this season, although our defeat at their place was not a true reflection of the game.
"I think they will be in the Premiership come May. Tony and Mark have carried on the excellent work they did at Hibernian and, with good players at their disposal, I see them as worthy title contenders.
"I could see when we were team-mates in the Ipswich Town dressing room that both Tony and Mark would move on from playing to coaching and management and they complement each other well. While Tony is a deep thinker and the more placid of the two, Mark is very passionate and enthusiastic. When they took over at West Brom last year, there was a lot of weight on their shoulders because of the expectancy.
"Albion had come down from the Premiership and everyone was expecting them to go straight back up. The team didn't do themselves justice in the play-off final but I can't imagine that happening this year.
"West Brom have got some good players and Tony has got them playing in an attractive fashion. His stock is rising all the time and I'm sure he will be managing in the Premiership before too long - either with West Brom, which I think he will, or elsewhere."