Ipswich Town 0-0 Gillingham - Half-Time
Tuesday, 6th Oct 2020 19:56
Town’s EFL Trophy tie against Gillingham at Portman Road remains 0-0 at half-time.
Boss Paul Lambert named the expected very young side with 17-year-old central defender Elkan Baggott handed his senior debut, midfielder Liam Gibbs and Tyreece Simpson, also both 17, their full first-team debuts and six other youngsters on the bench.
David Cornell was in goal and skippered with Janoi Donacien at right-back Corrie Ndaba on the left, and Baggott, who was recently at an Indonesian U19s training camp, and Luke Woolfenden the centre-halves.
In midfield, Brett McGavin took the deeper role behind Gibbs and Jack Lankester, who was making his first start since January 2019. Armando Dobra was on the right and Folami on the left with Simpson the lone striker.
On the bench, the Blues included former Gill Tomas Holy, 19-year-old right-back Dylan Crowe, a former England U18 international, left-back Tommy Smith, 18, and summer signing from Bury Town Ross Crane, a winger or midfielder.
Striker Zak Brown, 17, the brother of Charlie Brown, who joined Chelsea from the Blues in 2016, was also among the subs along with forward Zanda Siziba, also 17, who was with the Tottenham academy before joining Town last summer, and French midfielder Alan Viral, 18.
Having selected only two qualifying outfield players, the Blues will be fined £5,000 for fielding an understrength side, unless two of tonight's starters other than Donacien and Woolfenden are in the XI at Blackpool on Saturday, which appears a very unlikely prospect.
Gillingham made nine changes from the 1-1 weekend draw at Shrewsbury with the team not as youthful as anticipated, while former Town loanees Jordan Graham and Dominic Samuel were on the bench.
Prior to kick-off both teams took the knee in support of Black Lives Matter with the earlier heavy rain having subsided.
Australian U23 international Folami scuffed an early effort through to Gillingham keeper Joe Walsh in the sixth minute. Moments later, Matt Willock hit a low shot from the edge of the box which Cornell claimed with confidence.
On 11 Alex MacDonald struck a curling shot from the just outside the area on the left which Cornell did well to palm away from goal.
Three minutes later, Trae Coyle seized on a loose Baggott pass just outside the box but Donacien got across to block his strike.
The half developed into a scruffy affair but with the Blues seeing most of the ball without making much headway from an attacking perspective with not much space in the centre of the field.
In the 24th minute veteran Gills striker John Akinde cut in from the right and hit a shot which was blocked.
Just after the half hour, Dobra tried an audacious effort from the halfway line after keeper Walsh had come out of his area to clear a Woolfenden ball forward but failed to find the target.
Chances had been rare throughout the half but the Blues might well have gone in front in the 44th minute. A low Lankester cross from the right eventually reached Folami beyond the far post but the Australian scraped his effort wide from a tight angle.
Neither side was able to threaten again before a half lacking in penalty area action but still engaging was brought to a close.
The young Blues had played some tidy stuff at times but without finding a way through the Gills aside from the Folami efforts at each end of the half which the striker will feel he ought to have made more from.
At the other end, Cornell was forced into the best save of the period from Gills’ skipper MacDonald’s early strike but other than that the Town defence had prevented their keeper from being overly tested.
Town: Cornell (c), Donacien, Baggott, Woolfenden, Ndaba, McGavin, Gibbs, Dobra, Lankester, Folami, Simpson. Subs: Holy, Crowe, Smith, Crane, Brown, Siziba, Viral.
Gillingham: Walsh, Tucker, Medley, Willock, Coyle, McKenzie, Akinde, MacDonald, Woods, Maghoma, Drysdale. Subs: Bonham. Jackson, Ogilvie, Samuel, Graham, Eccles, Oliver. Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).
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