|Millwall 0 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Monday, 1st April 2013 Kick-off 15:00
Millwall 0-0 Town
Monday, 1st Apr 2013 15:32
Town claimed their fourth point of the two Easter fixtures as their trip to Millwall ended in a 0-0 draw. Luke Hyam and Michael Chopra both had chances for Town, while Lions defender Shane Lowry came closest to breaking the deadlock when he struck the outside of the post with a freekick in the second half.
Boss Mick McCarthy made five changes to his starting line-up with the game having come so quickly after Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Leeds.
The Blues manager rested captain Carlos Edwards, David McGoldrick, Jay Tabb and Daryl Murphy, who all dropped to the bench, while Andy Drury was left out of the 18.
Luke Chambers skippered in Edwards’s absence, while Lee Martin returned at left midfield, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was on the right, with Guirane N’Daw in the middle and Chopra and Frank Nouble up front. Millwall included ex-Blue Liam Trotter in the centre of their midfield.
It was Trotter who struck the game’s first shot, curling a 25-yard half-volley wide with the swirling wind helping it on its way past the post.
Millwall midfielder Richard Chaplow picked up an early yellow card for a late tackle on Richard Stearman, then in the fifth minute one-time Town academy trialist Andy Keogh had the ball in the net, but having strayed into an offside position as a cross came in from the left.
Striker John Marquis joined Chaplow in referee Keith Stroud’s book in the seventh minute for another foul on Stearman, the Blues right-back this time receiving an arm to the head.
There was a scare for the Blues, who were wearing their white away kit, in the 14th minute when keeper Scott Loach initially failed to hold a low Chaplow cross but the Town number one grabbed hold of it before Marquis could pounce.
Lowry sent a 30-yard freekick well wide in the 17th minute with the home side having had the better of it so far with the Blues unable to keep hold of the ball or create anything in front of goal. The windy conditions had also played their part in a scrappy opening spell.
McCarthy, facing a club he both played for and managed, switched his personnel around soon after, matching Millwall’s 4-3-3 with Emmanuel-Thomas coming into the centre ahead of Hyam and N’Daw, while Chopra moved to the right.
On 32 Marquis charged down Chambers’s clearance but was let down by his second touch and Tommy Smith saw the ball out of play. Two minutes later, Keogh’s cross from the right struck the top of the Town bar but with Loach comfortably seeing it over.
Nouble struck Town’s first shot of the game a minute later, tricking his way past Lowry on the right before hitting a shot from a tight angle which flew across the face of goal and failed to test Millwall keeper David Forde.
Luke Hyam came closer in 38th minute when Forde came a long way outside his box to clear but only as far as the Blues midfielder inside the centre circle. Hyam looped the ball goalwards but a combination of Mark Beevers and the wind stopped it before it could cross the line.
Hyam, who created Town’s first two goals on Saturday, came close again a minute later from Nouble’s flighted cross from the right. The academy product turned the ball goalwards and Forde did well to block. Martin went for the loose ball with defender Dunne but couldn’t add the final touch and in any case referee Stroud awarded a freekick to the home side.
Just before the break, Hyam picked up a yellow card after being somewhat harshly adjudged to have fouled Marquis.
The half-time scoreline was a reasonable reflection of the first 45 minutes. Town had come more into it as the half wore on having made the tactical change and had created a couple of openings with Nouble providing the main danger.
The Lions had been on top in the earlier stages, although without particularly threatening. Millwall appeared to have had the better of the strong wind during the first 45 minutes, although all too often balls in behind were over-hit, while Blues keeper Loach’s kicks were prevented from getting any further than the halfway line.
Millwall switched ineffective striker Marquis for Rob Hulse for the second half, while McCarthy stuck with the same side and system which had finished the first.
On 49 N’Daw joined Hyam in referee Stroud’s book for a foul on Dunne. Four minutes later the Senegalese international and skipper Chambers were spoken to by Stroud after he committed a further foul the official making it clear that that was his final warning.
From the resultant freekick, Millwall almost went ahead. Lowry crossed from the right to Hulse on the edge of the six-yard area. The sub managed to divert it goalwards but Loach reacted quickly to swat it away and the loose ball was bundled behind by a Millwall player.
The home side were beginning the half strongly and in the 54th minute the Blues failed to clear a corner from the right. Emmanuel-Thomas blocked a Dunne shot before Trotter turned a subsequent effort over.
At the other end, Hulse almost diverted an Aaron Cresswell freekick into his own net in the 56th minute. From the left-sided corner which resulted, Cresswell’s ball into the box was flicked on by Chambers to Chopra at the far post but the Blues striker was unable to keep his header down.
It was the best Town opportunity up to then and on the hour they created another when Chopra cut in from the right and teed-up Emmanuel-Thomas on the edge of the box. Forde blocked the midfielder’s left-foot strike but couldn’t hold on, however, Nouble turned the rebound over from the edge of the box.
Trotter added his name to referee Stroud’s increasingly lengthy list for a clumsy foul on Martin midway inside the Millwall half in the 66th minute. Cresswell crashed the freekick into the wall. Soon after the home fans felt N’Daw ought to have picked up his second yellow card of the game but Keogh looked to have gone to ground of his own volition.
Town had another chance to go in front in the 68th minute when Martin crossed low from the left, but Chopra failed to make contact as he looked to turn it home.
Jermaine Easter shot high and wide for the Lions, then Emmanuel-Thomas scraped an effort well wide at the other from distance with the game open and evenly balanced.
In the 73rd minute, Blues centre-half Smith made a superb saving challenge on Easter after the striker had been sent through on goal. Cresswell did well to block sub Liam Feeney’s subsequent effort.
Smith suffered a nosebleed as he defended the corner which followed and while he was receiving treatment on the touchline Edwards took over from Chopra.
The New Zealand international was still off the field when Lowry curled a 20-yard freekick off the outside of Loach’s right post after Chambers had been penalised for a foul when he appeared to have won the ball.
Millwall came close to breaking the deadlock in the 80th minute when Feeney crossed low from the right and Easter turned the ball over when he should have hit the target.
Forde saved from Nouble in the 83rd minute as the Blues striker brought the ball in from the left and hit a shot from a tight angle with either side still looking capable of grabbing a goal. With four minutes remaining Jay Tabb replaced Martin as Smith received further treatment for his nose injury.
As the game moved into injury time, Easter capitalised on an error by Chambers but hit his shot the wrong side of Loach’s post to disappoint the headline writers.
A draw was probably a fair result with both sides having had chances to win it. Millwall will feel that they had the better of the opportunities and went closest when Lowry hit the woodwork, while Hyam forced Forde into a good save and Chopra might have done better with his header.
Overall, manager Mick McCarthy is likely to be happy with a haul of four points from the two Easter fixtures.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Lowry, Beevers, Shittu, Trotter, J Smith (St Ledger 81), Chaplow, Keogh (Feeney 71), Marquis (Hulse 46), Easter. Unused: Taylor, Woolford, A Smith, Abdou.
Town: Loach, Stearman, Cresswell, Smith, Chambers, N’Daw, Hyam, Martin (Tabb 86), Emmanuel-Thomas, Nouble, Chopra (Edwards 75). Unused: Lee-Barrett, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, McGoldrick, Murphy. Referee: Keith Stroud. Att: 10,141 (Town: 1,047).
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