|Ipswich Town 4 v 0 Gillingham|
Tuesday, 8th October 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Ipswich Town 4-0 Gillingham - Match Report
Tuesday, 8th Oct 2019 21:51
Town progressed to the knockout phase of the Leasing.com Trophy after comfortably defeating Gillingham 4-0 at Portman Road. Emyr Huws and Jordan Roberts gave the Blues a 2-0 half-time lead and the Blues completed the scoring via an own goal and Will Keane in the second.
Boss Paul Lambert named the expected much-changed side with Will Norris in goal behind a back three of Toto Nsiala, making his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in pre-season and wearing the skipper’s armband, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden - the only two players in the XI to have started at Fleetwood at the weekend - with Myles Kenlock and Janoi Donacien the wing-backs.
Emyr Huws and Idris El Mizouni started in the deeper midfield roles with Danny Rowe ahead of them behind front pair Will Keane and Jordan Roberts.
On the bench, Harry Wright was the sub keeper, alongside Armando Dobra and young midfielder or forward Tommy Hughes and midfielder Brett McGavin, who were included in the first-team matchday squad for the first time.
Gillingham made 10 changes from the team which won 3-1 at home to Southend at the weekend with former Blues loanee Ben Pringle starting and ex-Town academy youngster Stuart O’Keefe on the bench.
Prior to kick-off there was no handshake between the managers following the fallout at the League One game between the sides last month and once the match got underway they kept their distance in their respective technical areas.
Having struggled to get the ball away form their own area in the opening couple of minutes, the Blues, with Ed Sheeran watching from his box and Ed Lay of The Editors sitting in the press area, soon began to get on top and pass the ball around.
And in only the ninth minute they went in front. El Mizouni brought the ball in from the right having twisted and turned away from his man and Huws hit a low 25-yard shot which beat Gills keeper Joe Walsh at his left post.
It was the Welshman’s first goal since volleying home the third goal in the Blues’ 3-1 victory over Newcastle in April 2017.
Three minutes later, Roberts sent in a cross from the left just in front of Keane and keeper Walsh claimed.
On 16 Huws had another go from distance but scuffed his shot as a defender slid in to challenge, then a minute later Kenlock drove over a cross but again it was too close to the keeper.
Soon after, Mikael Mandron was shown the game’s first yellow card for a late lunge at the back of Nsiala’s ankles on the edge of the Blues box.
And the resultant freekick eventually led to Town’s second goal. El Mizouni brought the ball forward 25 yards out and struck a shot which deflected off a defender to Roberts, who powerfully smashed his third Leasing.com Trophy goal of the season into the net from the edge of the box.
Huws, running the game from deep in midfield looking a level above everyone else, was unceremoniously sent flying by Henry Woods in the 26th minute and the Gills midfielder saw his name added to referee Tom Nield’s book.
Town continued to completely dominate with neat interchanges between the strikers and midfielders but without carving out another serious chance until the 41st minute when Roberts just failed to take down a sweeping cross-field pass from the left from Rowe on the edge of the area.
The half-time whistle was met by warm applause by the small but enthusiastic crowd, the Blues having been very much on top and in control throughout the half.
Gills keeper Walsh will probably feel he ought to have got across to Huws’s strike, but the power of Roberts’s effort gave him no chance.
At the other end keeper Norris had had a very quiet half with Gillingham not having registered a shot on or off target.
The Blues introduced Armando Dobra and Gwion Edwards ahead of the second half for Roberts, who had undergone treatment late in the first, and Donacien.
Three minutes after the restart Dobra, who will join up with the Albanian U19 squad following the match, teed-up Rowe on the left of the box with a back-heel but the former Macclesfield man’s strike was blocked.
A minute later, Huws picked up a loose ball midway inside the Gillingham half, brought it forward and hit a shot which caught El Mizouni and flew wide when it looked to have been on target.
Moments later, Dobra tricked his way in from the left and fed El Mizouni on the edge of the area and the Tunisian international’s shot deflected into the air and over the bar.
As the game reached the hour mark, Woods struck the visitors’ first shot of the evening but his scuffed effort dribbled past Norris’s left post.
Seconds later, Edwards broke down the right and sent over a deep cross, which was turned out at the far post by a defender ahead of Dobra.
And from the corner, the Blues increased their lead. El Mizouni whipped the ball over and Mandron inadvertently diverted it into his own net from the edge of the six-yard box.
Huws was booked for a foul on Woods on 68, then a minute later the Gills made a double change, Olly Lee and Alex Jakubiak, who both started the League One game between the clubs at the Priestfield Stadium, taking over from Regan Charles-Cook and Mandron.
The Blues largely played keep-ball as the game moved towards its final quarter of an hour. On 79 Edwards crossed from the left and eventually Rowe struck a shot which deflected wide.
As Town prepared to take the corner, Hughes, 18, was handed his debut as a replacement for Wilson and took up a position in the centre of midfield as the Blues switched to a four-man backline.
Town continued to totally dominate with the Gills struggling to see anything of the ball and in the 88th minute they made it 4-0.
Dobra, who had enjoyed another very lively 45 minutes having come on at the break, played in Keane and the striker confidently stroked his first goal since returning to the club past Walsh.
Rowe shot wide seconds before the whistle confirmed a very comfortable victory for the Blues who dominated virtually from start to finish and never looked in any trouble whatsoever and the margin of victory could have been even greater. Again there was no handshake between the managers.
Huws, who ran the game in midfield, and Keane will both be delighted to have got full games under their belts and to have scored their first goals of the season, and their first having signed permanently for the club. Nsiala will have been similarly chuffed to play his first 90 minutes for the senior side.
El Mizouni and Dobra will have been pleased with their displays, while Hughes will have been happy to make his first-team debut.
With Tottenham’s U21s beating Colchester on penalties in tonight’s other game, the Blues are guaranteed a place in the knockout phase of the competition with their visit to the U's next month still to come.
Town are next in action at Accrington a week on Sunday in a game which is live on Sky.
Town: Norris, Woolfenden, Nsiala (c), Wilson (Hughes 80), Donacien (Edwards 46), El Mizouni, Huws, Kenlock, Rowe, Keane, Roberts (Dobra 46). Unused: Wright, McGavin, Clements, Simpson.
Gillingham: Walsh, Hodson (c), Garmston, Ogilvie, Mandron (Jakubiak 69), Charles-Cook (Lee 69), Cisse, Pringle, Marshall, Woods, Tucker. Unused: Bonham, O’Keefe, Ehmer, Ndjoli, O’Connor. Referee: Tom Nield (West Yorkshire). Att: 5,271.
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