U21s Beat Millwall
Monday, 18th Mar 2013 21:11
Town’s U21s came from behind to beat Millwall 2-1 at Portman Road this evening. The visitors went ahead in the third minute via Charlie Penny but Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and schoolboy Matthew Clarke netted a goal in either half to give the Blues a deserved victory.
Overage outfielders Emmanuel-Thomas and Michael Chopra and keeper Scott Loach were included in the Town starting line-up. Schoolboy Clarke was again amongst the starters in a very young central midfield alongside first-year scholar Amir Berkane.
Emmanuel-Thomas, up front alongside Chopra, hit the game’s first shot in the third minute, slamming a 25-yard freekick not too far wide of Millwall keeper Tom Wellham’s right post.
Moments later, the Lions went ahead with their first attack of the game when midfielder Charlie Penny was played in on the right of the area and hit a shot across Loach and into the net.
There was a scare for the Blues in the ninth minute when Reece Brown was caught on possession by Jason Twum but the winger rushed his shot and screwed it well wide. At the other end, Byron Lawrence crossed deep to Cory Galvin, who did well to reach the ball but could only turn it to the keeper.
Town gradually started to dominate and they came very close to getting on terms in the 18th minute when, after good work from Brown, Emmanuel-Thomas hit a powerful strike on the turn which Wellham did well to turn on to his left post. Chopra was quickest to the loose ball but the keeper reacted superbly to stop his point-blank rebound.
A minute later, Lawrence’s shot deflected through to Wellham, then at the other end John Marquis saw a strike blocked with the Lions looking dangerous when breaking.
The Blues levelled on 22 when Brown played a ball down the right for Chopra to chase. The striker cut it back to Emmanuel-Thomas, who slid past the keeper from a few feet.
Soon after the goal Emmanuel-Thomas sent an overhead kick high into the air from Mings’s cross from the left.
Chances were rarer after the first 25 minutes, although on 36 Emmanuel-Thomas almost played Lawrence in on goal on the edge of the box only for a defender to intercept. The visitors had come more into it after Town’s spell on top around their goal but had been unable to test Loach further.
Town should have been in front in the 41st minute when Emmanuel-Thomas escaped down the Blues’ right from a quickly taken freekick. The former Arsenal man was clearly frustrated with himself as his cutback was claimed by the keeper rather than reaching Chopra on the edge of the six-yard box.
Moments later, Chopra should have done better when presented with the ball 30 yards out. Instead of taking it in on goal, he chose to hit a looping effort from distance which flew well over the bar.
The second half started just as the first had with an Emmanuel-Thomas freekick from distance, this one hitting the Lions wall.
There was little goalmouth action at either end in the opening 10 minutes of the second period but in the 54th minute Emmanuel-Thomas cut in from the right but his cross deflected off Zak Fagen and rather fortuitously into his keeper’s arms rather than into his own net.
Town went within a whisker of taking the lead in the 65th minute when Gunnar Thorsteinsson, playing at centre-half, diverted Lawrence’s corner from the left against the woodwork.
Millwall should have gone ahead on 66 when a loose ball fell to Marquis in space on the edge of the Town box but the Lions number nine lashed well wide when he should have done better.
A minute later the Blues went in front after a fine move down the left. Berkane and Emmanuel-Thomas interchanged passes before Chopra fed Town’s earlier scorer on the left of the area, from where he cut the ball across the six-yard area to schoolboy Clarke, who slammed it into the roof of the net for his first goal at U21 level.
Loach had been largely a spectator during the second half but in the 77th minute when earlier scorer Penny headed sub Danny Newman’s right-wing cross to the Town keeper’s arms.
Lawrence shot wide from distance on the left before the referee’s whistle signalled a victory for Mark Kennedy’s young side.
Town deserved the win on the overall balance of the game, having given away the early goal before they had really settled.
Emmanuel-Thomas and Chopra were always a handful for the Millwall backline, although on occasion trying things they probably wouldn’t have attempted in the first team, while the goal capped a fine performance from the promising Clarke, who only starts as a full-time scholar this summer and already looks far from out of place at this level.
Assistant boss Terry Connor took in the game from the sidelines with academy directory Bryan Klug and some of his coaches but there was no Mick McCarthy. New joint-MD Ian Milne watched much of the game from the tunnel.
Town U21s: Loach, Hammond, Mings, Berkane, Brown, Thorsteinsson, Galvin, Clarke, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra, Lawrence. Unused: Crowe, Robinson, Willbye, Marriott, Sowunmi.
Millwall U21s: Wellham, Saifa, Bender, Fagen (Oriogun 72), Malone, De Havilland, Penny, Sammoutis, Twum (Newman 75), Richards, Marquis. Unused: Hunter, Callaghan.
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