Ipswich Town 0-1 Millwall - Half-Time
Saturday, 31st Jul 2021 15:55
Benik Afobe’s 39th-minute goal has given Millwall a 1-0 half-time lead over Town in their final pre-season friendly at Portman Road.
Lee Evans returned and skippered the Blues, but neither George Edmundson nor Conor Chaplin, who signed earlier in the week, were involved.
Vaclav Hladky was in goal with Kane Vincent-Young at right-back, Matt Penney on the left and Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden at the heart of the defence.
Evans, who had missed the previous two friendlies with a groin strain, was joined in central midfield by Rekeem Harper with Armando Dobra and Wes Burns in the wide roles
Joe Pigott play just behind lone out-and-out striker Macauley Bonne, as was the case at Colchester on Tuesday.
Scott Fraser was missing from the 18-man squad but youngster Cameron Humphreys and Kayden Jackson, who came on as a sub against the U’s having been training with the U23s for most of the summer, were both on the bench. Also called up to the squad was youngster Matt Ward, who has impressed in the U23s in pre-season.
For Championship Millwall, ex-Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski was in goal, making his first appearance back at Portman Road since his July 2019 departure for the Den. Prior to kick-off the Polish international received a warm welcome from his old fans.
Town, wearing their white and black away kit, created the first chance of the game in the sixth minute when Burns caught George Saville in possession not far outside the Lions’ area. The former Fleetwood man cut the ball across the box to Bonne on the penalty spot but the striker scuffed his effort through to Bialkowski.
Two minutes later, Millwall went closer to taking the lead when Hladky somehow managed to keep out a Saville header when the ex-Middlesbrough midfielder seemed certain to score having been found by a cross from the right.
It was the sort of save Town fans got used to seeing Hladky’s opposite number at the other end of the field pulling off in his days as a Town player.
There was a flashpoint in the 17th minute when Nsiala and Jake Cooper clashed as Millwall prepared to take a corner from the right. While the pair were the main participants plenty of other players became involved before order was restored. Referee Andy Woolmer spoke to Nsiala and Cooper but issued no cards.
When the corner was finally taken Cooper charged into Nsiala as the ball came across but the central defender kept his cool. Afobe’s header was little trouble for Hladky.
Town had created nothing since Bonne’s early chance, all too often losing possession when in the opposition half. However, on 22 Pigott struck a 25-yard effort which Bialkowski saved comfortably down to his left.
Millwall right-back Danny McNamara was fortunate to stay on the field in the 31st minute when he wildly lunged into the back of Dobra’s ankles. It was a two-footed, out-of-control tackle which would probably have resulted in a red card in a competitive fixture but referee Woolmer showed only a yellow, while Dobra was rather fortunately OK to carry on.
Two minutes later, the Blues came close to going in front. Dobra brought the ball into the area and fed Penney to his left. The former Sheffield Wednesday man sent over a low ball which Shaun Hutchinson scuffed across the face of his own goal and just past the far post.
The Blues, who had struggled to make much of an impact going forward for most of the half, were suddenly on top and pressing for a goal.
On 37, a corner routine involving Dobra and Evans led to Burns poking a low shot which beat Bialkowski but stuck the outside of the post.
Two minutes later, Millwall took the lead. As the Lions broke, Town were short on numbers. Jed Wallace struck a shot which Hladky stopped but failed to hold on to and Afobe slammed home. The new Town keeper will feel he should have done better.
The ex-Salford and St Mirren man went some way towards atoning for his error in the 43rd minute when he impressively clawed away Hutchison’s header to his right after the Blues had repeatedly been unable to clear a bouncing ball from inside their area, although the ball had appeared to strike a Millwall hand.
That was the last action of a half which Town had grown into in the latter stages when they created a number of chances, although with their football still lacking fluency.
The Millwall goal came somewhat against the run of play at that stage with Hladky subsequently preventing a second from the Lions just before the break.
Town: Hladky, Vincent-Young, Nsiala, Woolfenden, Penney, Burns, Harper, Evans (c), Dobra, Pigott, Bonne. Subs: Holy, Donacien, Ndaba, Humphreys, Ward, Jackson, Norwood.
Millwall: Bialkowski, McNamara, Cooper, Hutchinson (c), Evans, Ballard, Kieftenbeld, Saville, J Wallace, Malone, Afobe. Subs: Long, M Wallace, Thompson, Bradshaw, Smith, Romeo, Pearce. Refere: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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