MARTIN O’NEILL praised his former Celtic skipper Paul Lambert’s rock-bottom Ipswich after Nottingham Forest 1-1 draw at Portman Road.
It was a day of reunions with Roy Keane, Lambert’s former No.2 at Aston Villa, also in the opposing team’s dug-out.
O’Neill’s side are chasing a Premier League promotion play-off place, but had to settle for one point following a tense tussle.
The ex-Parkhead gaffer said: “We got off to a very poor start, fought our way back into the game and got the equaliser.
“Obviously, there was a big moment just before half-time when I thought we scored. The TV replay looks as if we were two to three yards onside.
“That is very disappointing, but it doesn’t stop the fact that Ipswich played very well and it was no surprise to me in that sense.
“They might have only won a number of games this season, but they are playing with good old enthusiasm.
“Even though we made changes to try and win the game, it did leave gaps and Ipswich, breaking on us, were very good indeed.
“Our goalkeeper made saves to keep us in it, but I think the result is very, very fair.”
Defiant Lambert said: “We’re playing really well and I can’t ask any more of everybody at the club – the supporters were outstanding, the players were outstanding.
“If we’d come away 4-2 up, I don’t think anyone could have complained.
“We’ve been playing well without getting the breaks. We play a lot of risk football which is really, really good and we just need that little touch that finishes it off.
“Slowly, but surely, I think we’re getting there. The future’s good, but it needs a sprinkle of experience.”
In the fifth minute, Collin Quaner beat Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon with a tap-in finish, but the visitors levelled before the break when Jon Nolan put the ball in his own net.
Lambert’s strugglers are now 13 points adrift of safety while O’Neill’s Forest are just three points outside the top six.
It has been an uphill struggle since the former Hoops midfielder took over the Portman Road outfit earlier this season. However, as his former Parkhead gaffer O’Neill points out, they are not out of it yet.