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Gillingham 3 v 1 Ipswich Town
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 6th March 2021 Kick-off 13:00
Gillingham 3-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 6th Mar 2021 14:59

Paul Cook’s first game in charge of Town ended in defeat as the Blues were beaten 3-1 at Gillingham. Jack Tucker gave the Gills the lead in the seventh minute but skipper Luke Chambers pulled a goal back for Town on 65, however, Vadaine Oliver netted in the 73rd and 80th minutes to see the home side to a deserved first home league victory over the Blues.

Josh Harrop started in place of Alan Judge in an otherwise unchanged Town line-up for new boss Paul Cook’s first game in charge of the Blues.

Judge was missing from the 18 due to a family bereavement and the team wore black armbands on their light blue away strip as a mark of respect.

The Blues set up in the same system as employed in their last four games with former Gill Tomas Holy in goal.

Chambers was at right-back as he entered the top 10 of Town’s all-time appearance makers, Myles Kenlock at left-back with Toto Nsiala and James Wilson the centre-halves.

In midfield, Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop continued as the central two with Harrop a direct replacement for Judge on the left with Keanan Bennetts on the right. Parrott was in the number 10 role behind lone out-and-out striker James Norwood.

Jackson was back in the 18 for the first time since his sending off against Sunderland and exile to the U23s under former manager Paul Lambert. Luke Woolfenden also returned to the matchday squad.

Gillingham were unchanged from their 1-1 home draw with the MK Dons on Tuesday evening with former Blues loanee Jordan Graham and one-time Town academy youngster Stuart O’Keefe in their starting line-up.

The home side took the lead in the seventh minute from the game’s first serious attack. Dozzell fouled Graham not far outside the area to the right and Tom O’Connor lifted a ball into the area which was nodded on to the back post by Robbie Cundy from where Tucker smashed his first ever league goal past Holy.

The home side continued to look the more dangerous team and in the 11th minute keeper Jack Bonham’s long ball forward was flicked towards goal by Cundy but without enough power to trouble Holy.

Three minutes later the Gills felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Kenlock and Graham tangled as the winger tried to bring the ball in from the right.

Home manager Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor, already constantly vocal towards the officials in any case, made that point forcefully towards the referee, his assistant and the fourth official. Town manager Cook had a quieter word with the fourth official, presumably to enquire whether Kenlock had been fouled.

O’Connor’s free-kick was blocked by Dozzell before the ball was blazed over by skipper Kyle Dempsey from the edge of the box.

Gillingham were very close to doubling their lead in the 19th minute when Olly Lee struck an effort on the turn which slammed against the foot of the post and away to safety.

Town were struggling to get into the game with too many battles being won by the more physical Gills.

However, in the 24th minute, Norwood drilled a bouncing ball over from the left and it fell to Harrop, who took a touch before hitting a strike which cannoned off a defender.

The Blues started to settle down and began get their passing going for a spell and in the 29th minute Parrott came very close to a leveller. After a long spell of Blues possession, Bennetts worked himself space on the right and crossed for Parrott, whose brilliant overhead kick struck the outside of the post.

The on-loan Tottenham man rued his bad luck as he continued his wait for his first senior goal.

Town should have been back on terms in the 39th minute when Harrop’s ball over the top beat Tucker and sent Norwood away on goal. The striker took the ball into the area but just as he was pulling the trigger, the Gillingham defender got back to slide in and block. Norwood will feel he shouldn’t have waited so long to shoot.

Two minutes into injury time Harrop curled a free-kick into the wall after Parrott had been fouled and moments later referee Graham Salisbury brought the half to an end.

Aside from the spell in which Parrott hit the post, the Blues had been disappointing having been unable to impose their game on the more frantic, direct approach taken by the Gills. Town needed to show more patience and avoid being drawn into playing in a way more suited to the home side.

However, they ought to have been on terms with Parrott unlucky and Norwood having spurned the best opportunity when through one-on-one.

The Gills struck the first shot of the second period, Oliver hitting an effort wide of Holy’s right post two minutes after the restart.

The home side went close again in the 51st minute when a loose ball fell to Oliver on the right of the area but Wilson dived in to make a vital challenge.

Again Town had struggled to get going, although on 58 Harrop was able to cross into the box but too close to Gills keeper Jack Bonham, who was yet to make a save.

The Kent side ought to have been 2-0 in front in the 63rd minute when a long throw from the right was flicked on and Lee headed weakly within Holy’s reach. A bit more power and direction and the game would have been all but over.

But two minutes later the Blues were on terms. Bishop was felled as he burst through midway inside the Gills half, much to the frustration of home manager Evans, who loudly claimed it was a “scandalous decision”.

Town’s set pieces hadn’t been up to much previously and Harrop appeared to under-hit his ball into the box but Chambers looped a brilliant header from not far inside the area over Bonham and just under the bar for his third goal of the season.

Parity having been restored, manager Cook made a triple substitution, swapping Parrott, Harrop and Bennetts for Gwion Edwards, Freddie Sears and Flynn Downes with Bishop moving into the number 10 role.

The Blues looked to have the momentum with them but in the 73rd minute the Gills went back in front. Sears sloppily gave the ball away midway inside the opposition half and the home side broke quickly down the right before Dempsey sent over a cross for Oliver, who swept into the net from eight yards out.

Town immediately swapped Dozzell for Jackson as they chased a second equaliser of the afternoon using a 4-4-2 system with Bishop having moved back into the centre of midfield.

Sub Jackson came very close to his second goal of the season in the 77th minute when he headed a Dozzell corner from the right off the bar. The ball looped to Norwood who nodded goalwards with his effort appearing to be kept out by O’Connor’s arm. However, referee Salisbury saw it otherwise despite Town protests.

Four minutes later, the game was effectively over as Gillingham scored their third of the afternoon. The Blues struggled to clear their lines after Holy had twice blocked on the edge of the area. A clearance down the right only reached Connor Ogilvie, the left-back’s header back reached Oliver, who deftly curled past Holy and inside his left post.

After seven minutes of additional time, referee Salisbury confirmed the Blues’ first defeat in six and a loss in the opening game of the Cook era.

Town got themselves back on terms via Chambers’s excellent header and needed to push on from there, however, they let Gillingham off the hook by allowing them their second goal and the third sealed the result.

Early days for manager Cook, who only took training for the first time on Thursday, although the new boss will be disappointed that the momentum built up by the results prior to his arrival couldn’t be maintained.

Town, who drop to eighth in the table but still two off the top six, are next in action when currently third Lincoln City are at Portman Road on Tuesday.

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Cundy, Tucker, Ogilvie, O'Keefe, Dempsey (c), Graham (MacDonald 90), Lee (Akinde 80), O'Connor, Oliver. Unused: Bastien, Johnson, McKenzie, Willock, Morton.

Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Nsiala, Wilson, Kenlock, Dozzell (Jackson 74), Bishop, Bennetts (Edwards 68), Harrop (Sears 68), Parrott (Downes 68), Norwood. Unused: Cornell, Woolfenden, Ward, Downes, Edwards, Sears, Jackson. Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).

Photo: PagePix

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Bluearmy_81 added 15:01 - Mar 6
This league is so poor. The play before the 3rd gills goals was like Sunday league. No ifs, no buts, we are here because of Evans. The takeover has to happen or Ipswich will stay a joke and an English football obscure, irrelevant non-entity. #Evansout
Join Evans out of ITFC on facebook

fallguy1234 added 15:02 - Mar 6
Massive reality check today. I think a couple of us were getting a little too excited after a few wins. Leopards don’t change their spots. Fingers crossed the takeover happens and we can clear some out of the squad, because let’s be real, it needs a pretty big clear out. Cook would have learned a lot today, bigger job on his hands than he may think after today. Onwards and upwards

afcfee added 15:02 - Mar 6
Too many players who it wouldn't suit if we go up and loan players who doesn't effect. Hopefully big clear out and add some hungry players in summer

bluemay77 added 15:03 - Mar 6
Bit deflated if I'm honest

MerseyBlue added 15:03 - Mar 6
Ugly, laboured and befuddled performance. Lots of work to be done, hopefully this is the bedrock and we learn from our mistakes.

lanceh73 added 15:03 - Mar 6
Cook out!

JCBLUE added 15:04 - Mar 6
Just shocking

BromleyBloo added 15:04 - Mar 6
Another scrappy game as you’d expect away at Gills, but we didn’t start well. Missed the goal because iFollow was pretty crap also. We came back in to it as the half grew on and pretty even between the two sides, with neither playing well. Never really got our passing game going at any stage - we missed Judge - and too often back to an aimless punt upfield by Nsiala or Holy, which played in to their hands and dragged us down to their game. Both sides hit the post, but good to get to half-time without any further damage and a chance to refocus and improve things........

...........but second half much the same until we scored out of the blue from a set piece bought by Teddy’s direct running.

Waiting for the winner and then we gift them a goal. Give away the ball stupidly when on the attack and then Kenlock way out of position - only chance they had in the second half up to that point and a real sucker punch!!!

Another stupid mistake/give the ball away for the third goal.

Didn’t understand the subs at all - changed 3 all at the same time just after we equalised?!?

Wilson solid, Holy good, albeit mainly out of his area and Nors battled well as usual, but Bennetts was awful apart from one good cross and the rest pretty invisible............

Beaten by Gillingham, who are pretty rubbish and a really poor performance - if PL was still in charge everybody would be screaming and rightly so.

Work to do, to say the least...............

We need a big reaction on Tues! COYB

TB42 added 15:05 - Mar 6
Perhaps expectations were too high but is it not normally the case a new manager injects a bit of fire into the hearts of players hungry to be part of his future plans?

Clearly, that has not happened this afternoon. Methinks Paul COOK has no easy task on his hands .....

BeattiesBackPocket added 15:05 - Mar 6
Yet Another statement from the owner seems to have appeased fans yet again fans say 'because of all the money he's invested we could be worse with someone else were better off with him' if you buy a club you expect to invest money in it as a minimum same as when you buy a house you don't stop you carry on investing it's a commitment. How come clubs smaller than us Brentford, Bournemouth, Norwich, Watford can all challenge higher up with no debt and without the anywhere near our owners worth it's because they're run better and have a structure so why on earth should we be thankful for where we are when clubs smaller do better?? I think cook will realise the players aren't anywhere near as good as they think. When Evans came in magilton in charge 8th placed finish our team was Sito, Cornago, Wright, Bruce, Walters, De Vos, Legwinski, Wilnis, Naylor, Garvan, Norris, Kuqi and 30 million debt losing approx 2.7 million a season. Now look deep down at our team I wouldn’t have one of our current players in that team? Evans has stripped the club of any quality on the pitch and in the stands 6 managers and now a 7th not all these managers can be wrong so who's the common denominator!??
Please anyone explain why you think evans is good for the club and real reason for it?

Dolphinblue added 15:05 - Mar 6
Hmmm one of those games where we get bullied out of the game by a physical side coyb

TimmyH added 15:05 - Mar 6
Paul Cook now knows what he's up against, too many players not doing enough particularly the midfield and out hassled and harried by Gillingham who were quick to get the ball forwards. Deserved nothing from this game, Sears came on again as sub but offered nothing other than to give the ball away for Gills second goal and could see his Town days numbered. Saying that many other players should also be under the spotlight.

Best of luck Paul...lets just hope this was a hiccup but the players need to up their work rate if we are to get in the play-offs.

sproughtonblue added 15:06 - Mar 6
You simply can not blame managers for that performance, to a man they should bow their heads in shame...
Paul my boy you have a lot of hard work ahead.

leagueonescum added 15:06 - Mar 6
Roll up, roll up! Two for the price of one. Massive clear out needed at Town. This Cook doesn't have the ingredients for promotion going by that performance. Let's hope he doesn't blow smoke up their a**es like Lambert would've.

grinch added 15:06 - Mar 6
New Paul Sam suite....sears was the best sub that Gillingham made 2 assists let's hope he does not play for Town again all the midfield were ineffective PC now knows size of his task

rfretwell added 15:06 - Mar 6
Tough old match against Gills who fought for every ball. Low quality, few shots on target from us but we hit the woodwork twice. Good to see Jackson back. Alot of misplaced passes especially in the first half. Well that's brought is back down to earth!

truthhurts added 15:07 - Mar 6
Bet the Blue Action boys are happy :)

leagueonescum added 15:10 - Mar 6
Also, not sure why Judge was dropped- wouldn't say he's the catalyst but he's certainly made an impact over the last month or so.

oldegold added 15:12 - Mar 6
Awful performance.Promotion/playoffs? Don't make me laugh after what I saw today. Not enough hungry and motivated players...get rid of most of 'em

londontractorboy57 added 15:12 - Mar 6
BCWYWF Cook out 😅😅😅 you melts Twtd news site is what's wrong with our once great club RIP.

TimmyH added 15:13 - Mar 6
Judge had a family bereavement - he wasn't dropped!

SpiritOfJohn added 15:15 - Mar 6
It looked like we kept passing to the blue shirts through force of habit. Our wishy washy powder puff pale blue colours matched our display.

runningout added 15:15 - Mar 6
Beaten by the better team. Which is painful to say. Tiny honeymoon over

TimmyH added 15:15 - Mar 6
New manager same old silly posts from londontractorboy57...noticed your boyfriend MM gave SKY another faceless 0-0 against Huddersfield last night where they were lucky not to get beaten.

Bert added 15:17 - Mar 6
Defence poor, midfield a joke, no service, no intent....and the best team won by a country mile. Naive to blame Evans. This defeat is solely down to the players. Another tenner wasted. I hope Cook gives the players a blast and drops Dozzell who cannot tackle cleanly.

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