|Ipswich Town 2 v 0 Gillingham|
Tuesday, 6th October 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Ipswich Town 2-0 Gillingham - Match Report
Tuesday, 6th Oct 2020 20:54
Second-half goals from Armando Dobra and Ben Folami saw a very young Town side to a 2-0 victory over Gillingham in their second group game in the EFL Trophy. Dobra struck home from the edge of the box on 57, then Folami turned home the second after good work from Gibbs with 15 minutes left as the Blues deservedly and in the end comfortably defeated the Gills.
Boss Paul Lambert named the expected very young side with 17-year-old central defender Elkan Baggott handed his senior debut, midfielder 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. 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.
Striker Samuel, who was with the Blues between January and May 2017 from Blackburn, took over from Willock ahead of the second half for the visitors.
Eight minutes after the restart, with neither side having threatened, Christian Maghoma was booked for a foul on Dobra, then three minutes later Akinde was joined him in the book for pulling back the Blues forward.
But in the 58th minute there was nothing legal or illegal the Gills could do to prevent the Blues’ number 36 from opening the scoring.
Simpson turned the ball into the path of Dobra while under pressure towards the left and the Albanian U21 international brought the ball to the edge of the box before smashing a powerful rising right-foot shot into the top corner of the net giving Walsh no chance.
In the 65th minute Folami was found on the left, took the ball outside his man then hit a shot across the face of goal. Three minutes later the Sydney-born striker was booked for a foul on Henry Woods.
Sub Samuel headed a rare visitors opportunity over on 72 with the Blues’ backline having prevented Cornell from having to make a save since the break.
Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Gibbs dispossessed Jack Tucker wide on the Town right, then brought the ball forward and cut in along the byline before playing a perfect pass for Folami who got ahead of his man and turned home his first senior goal.
Dobra was swapped for another debutant, Crane, in the 82nd minute moments before Coyle struck a Gills free-kick through to Cornell with little power.
Two minutes later, Baggott was booked for a foul and sub Josh Eccles smashed the free-kick deep into the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand.
As the game moved into its penultimate minute, Eccles was booked for a foul on Lankester as the forward broke towards the area. McGavin curled the free-kick wide.
In injury time the Blues gave debuts to Siziba and Viral for Lankester and Gibbs but neither touched the ball before the whistle was blown seconds later.
The Town youngsters thoroughly deserved their victory, stepping up their game in the second half, much like their senior colleagues in the recent games against Bristol Rovers and Rochdale when they also won by this season's signature 2-0 scoreline.
Dobra was lively throughout and scored an excellent opener, while Gibbs did superbly to create the second for Folami, who made a clever run in front of his man to finish the chance.
There were impressive performances throughout the side with McGavin neat and tidy in midfield, Simpson a powerful presence up front and Baggott and Woolfenden solid at the centre of the defence. Ndaba, primarily a centre-half, looked far from out of place at left-back.
Town pick up £10,000 for winning the tie in 90 minutes, half of which will go towards the fine for the understrength side.
The Blues, who were beaten 2-1 at home by Arsenal’s U21s in their first group game, face Crawley away in their final tie on Wednesday 11th November. The League Two side host Arsenal’s U21s in their second group fixture next Tuesday.
Town: Cornell (c), Donacien, Baggott, Woolfenden, Ndaba, McGavin, Gibbs (Viral 90), Dobra, Lankester (Siziba 90), Folami, Simpson. Unused: Holy, Crowe, Smith, Crane, Brown.
Gillingham: Walsh, Tucker, Medley, Willock (Samuel 46), Coyle, McKenzie, Akinde, MacDonald (Eccles 71), Woods, Maghoma, Drysdale. Unused: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Graham, Oliver. Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).
Photo: Matchday Images
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