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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