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Ipswich Town 0-3 Millwall - Match Report
Saturday, 31st Jul 2021 16:57

Benik Afobe netted twice and Jed Wallace once as Millwall beat Town 3-0 at Portman Road in their final friendly of pre-season. Afobe gave the Lions the lead on 39, then made it 2-0 in the 50th minute before Wallace added the third on 54 to seal a comfortable victory for the Championship side.

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.

Lee Evans, who had missed the previous two friendlies with a groin strain, skippered and 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 and new siging George Edmundson were 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. 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.

Two minutes after the restart, Evans curled a 25-yard free-kick to Bialkowski’s right but the former Blues keeper was equal to it.

However, in the 50th minute the Lions doubled their lead. Following a well-worked move down the left, the ball was cut back from the byline and Afobe smashed a shot across Hladky and into the net from six yards.

Four minutes later it was 3-0. With the Blues caught on their heels, Sam Malone played a corner from the right to Wallace not far outside the area and the former Portsmouth man brought it forward a stride before slamming a well-struck low shot past Hladky to his left. Another poor goal for the Blues to concede and their third from an opposition set piece in two games.

As the game passed the hour mark Millwall, who had been very comfortable in the second half, made seven substitutions. Ryan Leonard, Mahlon Romeo, Billy Mitchell, Murray Wallace, Matt Smith, Mason Bennett and Connor Mahoney replaced McNamara, Daniel Ballard, Hutchinson, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jed Wallace, Afobe and Saville.

Burns curled a Town free-kick well over, then in the 69th minute Conor Chaplin, who hadn’t been named on the teamsheet, was given his first action for the Blues along with Janoi Donacien with Burns and Bonne making way.

Vincent-Young moved to right midfield following the substitutions and quickly had an impact in that role, bringing the ball forward and exchanging passes with Chaplin - who played a clever lifted ball over the Millwall backline - before hitting a shot on the turn which was blocked. It was certainly Town’s best opportunity of the second half.

In the 77th minute a Millwall player gave the ball to Pigott midway inside the visitors’ half and the striker brought it to the edge of the area before turning and shooting weakly wide when a ball wide to Vincent-Young to his right would have been a better option.

With 10 minutes remaining Town switched Pigott, Vincent-Young, who had had a significant impact in his wide right role, and Penney for James Norwood, Kayden Jackson and Cameron Humphreys.

Evans shot wide for the Blues on 83, then Hladky saved low to his left from the edge of the box.

In the 89th minute Ward was given his second experience of first-team football, having caught the eye against Crystal Palace last week, for Dobra, who caused Millwall problems without having the same impact as at Colchester in the week.

It’s always been anticipated that Town’s quickly-assembled squad might take a little while to gel and on the evidence of today’s performance - although obviously against opposition from a higher division - the Blues look very much a work in progress.

Aside from a spell just before the visitors’ opening goal, Town were always second best to Millwall, who were very comfortable at 3-0 before the obligatory mass second-half substitutions.

For the second time in two games Town conceded three times, while at the other end they rarely looked like threatening.

But it’s early days for the much-changed Blues who will undoubtedly grow as the season progresses, while opening day League One opponents Morecambe, who visit Portman Road in a week’s time, are likely to be significantly lesser opposition than Millwall.

Town: Hladky, Vincent-Young (Jackson 80), Nsiala, Woolfenden, Penney (Humphreys 80), Burns (Chaplin 69), Harper, Evans (c), Dobra (Ward 89), Pigott (Norwood 80), Bonne (Donacien 69). Unused: Holy, Ndaba, Ward.

Millwall: Bialkowski, McNamara (Leonard 62), Cooper, Hutchinson (c) (B Mitchell 62), Evans, Ballard (Romeo 62), Kieftenbeld (M Wallace 62), Saville (Mahoney 62), J Wallace (Smith 62), Malone, Afobe (Bennett 62). Subs: Long, M Wallace, Thompson, Bradshaw, Smith, Romeo, Pearce. Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).

Photo: Matchday Images

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Chondzoresk added 17:01 - Jul 31
Remember everyone, it was a friendly. PC probably learnt more from losing 0-3. No bed wetting thank you.

Help added 17:02 - Jul 31
I appreciate this is work in progress and more players to arrive. But still conceding from set pieces and not closing opposition down.

dukey44 added 17:02 - Jul 31
Right so 1 up front still don't wrk.... Just an opinion 👍

SheptonMalletBlue added 17:03 - Jul 31
Next Saturday is when the score matters!!

rfretwell added 17:04 - Jul 31
Only a friendly but was expecting a bit better than that report.

Karlosfandangal added 17:06 - Jul 31
A wake up call for all the fans who think we will walk this league this year

It is going to take time to gel so let’s hope the boo boys have a little more patience this year

Welshblue72 added 17:08 - Jul 31
This team needs time to gel. No one should expect us to be beating championship sides just yet. I still have faith as I do every year however miss placed. Let’s see how we are after first 6 games and then cry if needed. COYB

Reuserscurtains added 17:08 - Jul 31
I was there today and to me this didn’t feel like a worrying 3-0 loss. It was an established championship team against a new 11. Plenty of positive performances for, especially impressed with Dobra, who attacked throughout, Evans who had a lovely ping and looked the part, and lastly felt Toto looked solid. We will be fine

johnwarksshorts added 17:08 - Jul 31
The real meaningful matches start when the curtain rises on the league 1 campaign next week. Let's all get behind the team.

TimmyH added 17:09 - Jul 31
Yes a friendly but as a few posters mentioned after Colchester we'll learn more from this game and to be honest a bit disappointing.

BobbyBell added 17:09 - Jul 31
I know it's only a friendly but we only have a week before the serious stuff so I would have hoped for some encouraging signs. The defence is still very poor. Of course it will take time as did the Robson era so no one should read too much into this game. This will not be a magic wand summer of signings but hopefully the beginning of as magic era.

Nobbysnuts added 17:09 - Jul 31
Always good to get a footballing spanking off the mighty covid ravaged Millwall. Oh dear oh dear...

grinch added 17:10 - Jul 31
So when should we start worrying???? I know this was again a friendly but I think the last friendlies are showing that it is goingvto take quite a few games for the team to start to gel so those thinking we are going tobwalkbthecleague this year may need to rethink. I also agree this 1 up top doesn't seem to work in all Cooks games at town it has not worked. Let's hope that the new CB comes in fast a wolfenden was again shown for his lack of positional sense as in last few games need another CB aswell really

jas0999 added 17:14 - Jul 31
The result is not significant. But, friendlies are played for fitness but also identify where we need to improve. The team will take time to gel, but we are conceding all too easily. More concerning was Colchester, but some silly defending again today.

Concerned? No. But there is clearly a lot of work to do.

BlueandTruesince82 added 17:14 - Jul 31
Hopefully Edmundosn adds some steel, no doubt we need 1 more CB another LB option at the very least.

Personally I accept it will take time to gel so no bed wedding from me until Nov.

We are obviously still looking to add players so we're nowhere near what this team should be yet

algarvefan added 17:16 - Jul 31
Just take yourself back to your younger days when you played football at the park, 2 captains choose the players and you end up in the team where you knew nobody, did you play well?

I'll be far more interested in making comments after say 10 games into the new season when the team has had a few months together. lets try and keep calm and see this for what it is, a pre-season friendly and learning tool for the manager and the staff. I fully expect us to be upset by a few teams in Division 1 in the first couple of months but when we find consistency that comes from playing together, I think we will be there or there abouts by the end of the season.

karl1426 added 17:17 - Jul 31
I am not a fan of wholesale changes and this is even sad considering our very own homegrown were victims of these changes! Yes, it’s gonna take time, so hopefully we still have time to salvage another season in League One!

Dog added 17:22 - Jul 31
Algarve - brace yourself. Someone called me an idiot when i said you can form an opinion after 10 games ( see half time thread).

We will be ok. Just need some defence and pressing training.

BlueBlood90 added 17:23 - Jul 31
It’s going to take time for this set of players to gel and become a team. They’re all getting to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses and forming relationships on the pitch so it’s not an overnight job.

Don’t forget there’s arguably 4-5 players that started today who probably won’t start the majority of games next season when we have completed all of our signings and when everybody is fit and fully up to speed (Chaplin, Edmundson, Fraser, hopefully Coulsen etc).

I’ll be more concerned if we lose 0-3 next week.

Esseeja added 17:25 - Jul 31
I was saying this before the end of the season but Woolfenden has lost his shining light for me. He is a player who I think should be looking to do significantly better if Cook really is to put trust in him.
From the looks of the comments of others, 3-0 might be a bit harsh, but we've now conceded 6 goals in the last 2 friendlies and that worries me a lot heading into the Morecambe game, another defensive player urgently needed. Hopefully Edmundson will be good for us but we desperately need another.

trublulax added 17:27 - Jul 31
Evans top class. Nsila good game but always a mistake in him. Penny very good. Dobra also impressive. Harper strong and composed.

Keeper absolutely terrible. That needs solving ASAP. Did Wes Burns even play today?

Still no goal threat.

Disappointing performance, but it’s only preseason. Marked improvement required for next week.


dirtydingusmagee added 17:31 - Jul 31
karl1426 '' still time to salvage'' bloody hell we havnt started the season yet !

Barty added 17:35 - Jul 31
FFS play 2 up front Cook

Suffolkboy added 17:36 - Jul 31
Were we out thought , out played , lost out to superior fitness ,superior co-ordination , or better technical players ?
It’d be interesting to see opinion on the hows, where’s and why’s for these will be the aspects which hopefully PC and his team of coaches will analyse — and set about effecting remedies .
It will therefore be fascinating to hear the Manager’s views on where we are ,what he did learn and in what areas improvement will be sought , either from improved personal performance OR by yet more incoming talent !
At the end of the day ,and the start of the season we will all to a man look for enthusiastic commitment from all at ITFC ,and be cheering them on - at least hopefully so !!

midastouch added 17:37 - Jul 31
Can't worry too much as I remember I went into full meltdown mode after we got thumped 6 nil by Charlton in a pre-season friendly and we actually started brightly that season if I recall.
But anything less than a win next Saturday is going to feel disappointing after all the hype, general positivity and excitement since the takeover. I know we need to give the team time but if we can't beat Morecambe at home (compare our budget to theirs) I will be a tad concerned.
As long as we have 3 points on the board by this time next week, then this result today will already seem a distant memory by then!

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