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Ipswich Town 1-0 Gillingham - Match Report
Saturday, 5th Feb 2022 17:03

Conor Chaplin’s ninth goal of the season saw Town to a 1-0 victory over Gillingham at Portman Road, maintaining manager Kieran McKenna’s 100 per cent home record. The Gills had hit the woodwork twice before Chaplin’s low strike in the 74th minute with the Blues unconvincing for much of the afternoon.

Joe Pigott, Lee Evans, Tom Carroll and James Norwood returned to the Town starting line-up.

Pigott was making his first start since Kieran McKenna took over with Macauley Bonne dropping to the bench.

Norwood played off central striker Pigott to the left with Chaplin to the right with Bersant Celina on the bench and Sone Aluko not in the squad.

Evans was in central midfield after returning from a groin injury alongside Carroll, who missed last week’s 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday after his partner gave birth. Tyreeq Bakinson was among the subs and Idris El Mizouni wasn’t in the 18, while Dominic Thompson was handed his home debut at left wing-back.

For the Gills under new manager Neil Harris, Gislingham-born Stuart O’Keefe, a one-time Town academy player, skippered.

The visitors struck the game’s first shot in the third minute, Danny Lloyd hitting a low free-kick from 25 yards which Christian Walton bundled away to his right.

But Town, with Ed Sheeran watching from his box in the Cobbold Stand alongside Olly Murs, soon took over, dominating possession but without threatening in the final third.

On 12, David Tutonda was shown the game’s first yellow card for a foul on Janoi Donacien as the right-sided centre-half ran onto a return pass. From the free-kick, Evans whipped a curling ball into the area just beyond Norwood and stand-in skipper George Edmundson was unable to direct it goalwards.

Town went closer two minutes later when Carroll sent over a corner from the right, Luke Woolfenden battled hard to nod back across goal and Pigott looped a header over when the striker, a former Gillingham loanee, will feel he ought to have done better.

As the game reached the 20-minute mark, the Blues had a couple of sloppy moments with Lloyd finding himself in a good position from the first before handling the ball. Soon after Lloyd under-hit a back pass towards Aaron Chapman but the keeper was out quickly to clear ahead of Pigott.

Town began to regain their earlier composure and might have gone ahead in the 27th minute. Wes Burns hit a low shot from the right which Chapman uncomfortably palmed into the path of Thompson breaking into the box at pace, but the on-loan Brentford man was unable to keep his first-time shot down.

The Blues were starting to look more threatening and on 29 Evans clipped a looping ball into the area which a defender diverted away from Norwood and Thompson at the far post. From the resultant corner, Edmundson headed over.

However, Town were far from in total control and on 34 Gillingham debutant Ben Thompson screwed a shot from 20 yards wide.

The Blues continued to have sloppy moments, giving the ball away in their own half too regularly but with Gillingham unable to force a serious chance.

On 43 the ball was cleverly worked in from the Town right but Carroll turned the ball in front of Norwood with the striker not expecting it.

The Blues were seeing plenty of the ball as the whistle blew for half-time but still without finding a way through a Gillingham side more organised and determined than they had been in the 4-0 Town win at the Priestfield Stadium last month.

Town had had the lion’s share of the possession - 71-29 according to the stats - but had been too sloppy, particularly in their own half with passes having gone astray in potentially dangerous areas. However, neither Walton nor Gills keeper Chapman had had a particularly busy half.

The Blues started the second half on the front foot with a couple of crosses from the right cut out but three minutes after the restart the visitors hit the post.

Striker Vadaine Oliver was sent away and hit a shot across Walton from the right of the box which beat the keeper and bounced on to the post and away.

The Blues continued their first-half sloppiness and a minute later Burns gave the ball away in the final third and Woolfenden lost out in a tackle before Edmundson stepped across to clear the danger.

On 50, following Walton’s punch clear from a corner, Robbie McKenzie sent a low ball across the area but too far in front of Oliver.

Town were forced into a change three minutes later when Burns, who had suffered a knock towards the end of the first half, took to the turf for treatment before being swapped for Kyle Edwards, making his first appearance of the McKenna era.

The Gills hit the woodwork for the second time a minute later, Lloyd turning a cross from the left on to the post from the edge of the six-yard box with Walton appearing to get a touch.

Town continued to give the ball away in their own half with their performance becoming scrappier and the crowd audibly more anxious.

Just after the hour mark the game was held up after Lloyd suffered an injury in a challenge with Woolfenden when he looked to have landed awkwardly.

Play continued with the Gills man evidently in pain before the game was brought to a halt for lengthy treatment and the forward was eventually taken down the tunnel on the stretcher cart, Woolfenden having spoken to the grounded former Tranmere player, who was replaced by Charlie Kelman.

Town continued to give the ball away in dangerous areas and on 70 Olly Lee played in Oliver but Edmundson read the pass and got his foot in as the Gills striker shot and his effort looped over the bar.

From the corner, Edwards broke down the left and fed Pigott, who looked to find Chaplin breaking towards the area on the right but his pass was too close to keeper Chapman, who claimed.

But Chaplin didn’t have to wait too much longer for a chance and when it came the former Portsmouth and Barnsley man put the Blues in front.

The ball was stroked to Edmundson in space midway inside the Gills’ half to the left and the centre-half drilled a ball into Chaplin’s feet just inside the area. Despite his first touch not having been the best, the forward then lashed a low shot past Chapman.

It was a goal which had hardly been coming with the Blues’ performance having drifted in the second half but Chaplin once again showed his habit of scoring at important moments, taking his tally for the season to nine.

Bonne replaced Pigott, who was applauded off by the home fans, in the 78th minute, while the visitors swapped Thompson for on-loan Norwich striker Tom Dickson-Peters. Seven minutes later, Chaplin was switched for Bakinson.

Bonne curled a shot high and wide from the edge of the box in the 88th minute from a Bakinson lay-off.

The Blues saw out the final minutes - including eight additional minutes for Lloyd’s injury - without too much danger to claim a hard-fought three points.

Having most of the ball but without creating chances in the first half while giving the ball away all too often, the Blues became even scruffier after the break and were fortunate not to concede when the Gills hit the post twice.

But there was always a chance an opportunity would come and when it did Chaplin showed the clinical finishing which Town fans have become used to this season to claim the three points from a game in which the Blues had been under-par for the most part.

The victory sees Town stay ninth in the League One table but now eight points from the play-offs ahead of Tuesday’s visit to bottom side Doncaster, who won 2-1 at Sunderland today.

Town: Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson (c), Burns (Edwards 54), Evans, Carroll, Thompson, Chaplin (Bakinson 85), Norwood, Pigott (Bonne 78). Unused: Hladky, Burgess, Celina, Jackson.

Gillingham: Chapman, Tutonda, O'Keefe (c), Ehmer (Phillips 90), Tucker, Lee, McKenzie, Masterson, Lloyd (Kelman 68), Oliver, Thompson (Dickson-Peters 78). Unused: Dahlberg, Jackson, Sithole, Maghoma. Referee Stephen Martin (Staffordshire). Att: 20,698 (Gillingham: 486).

Photo: Matchday Images

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BromleyBloo added 17:10 - Feb 5
We won, but not sure how and Gills must be gutted.

Didn’t understand the team selection and where was Aluko?

Piggot sounded lost, Nors invisible and little from anybody in midfield. Also defence making same old town mistakes and hard to understand how we kept a clean sheet as we tried hard to gift them something.

Chaplin and his finish sounded the only highlight and also didn’t understand the late subs, inability to change things quickly and no Celina??? We were poor in the first half and, after the half-time pep talk, strangely even worse in the second?!?

Need to do much better in this critical month, otherwise we will achieve nothing………..again. We know Gills aren’t a good team and we will have to beat much better!

Still 5/7 so onwards………………


TimmyH added 17:11 - Feb 5
Well probably one our poorest home performances of the season by the sounds of it and we manage to pick up 3 points (not often that happens)...midfield particularly stuttering, will be happy when Morsy and Aluko are consistently back in there and hopefully Burns hasn't picked up too much of a knock. A lot to ponder over as it seems a number of players are out of form or just not good enough as we really need to start seeing some consistency with our displays!

ShropshireBluenago09 added 17:11 - Feb 5
Take a scruffy 1-0 any day. Still on track, MK is a going to be the 1st of many massive games.

Monkey_Blue added 17:11 - Feb 5
It’s 3 points and 15 out of 21 points for McKenna. Shows how far off the pace Cook left us that over 2pts per game under McKenna and we are still 7 or 9 points off the playoffs( Oxford Pompey not finished yet). Gillingham seem to be having the new manager bounce we never got under PC

Ipswichbusiness added 17:12 - Feb 5
63% of possession, 2 shots on target. Need I say more?

runningout added 17:12 - Feb 5
no comment hehe

OwainG1992 added 17:12 - Feb 5
We won.
We played badly and we won.
That'll do for today.

GatesofDelirium added 17:13 - Feb 5
Not a good performance but a much needed win. And those three points are just about the only positive in a game where Burns went off injured, we had too many misplaced passes and once again we struggled to get shots on target. Thankfully their two best chances hit the post. It is said that successful teams win even when they are playing poorly so perhaps this game was an omen. We'll need a better performance at Doncaster, who just won at Sunderland.

davidwyard added 17:15 - Feb 5
Have got to be pleased with 3 points, but boy what a struggle, Gillingham hit the post twice it could have been so different.

dirtydingusmagee added 17:16 - Feb 5
i was going to be less than complimentary , but somehow we won, so that's it .

mightyhorse added 17:19 - Feb 5
Not a great performance, but I’ll take the points and be happy with them . I genuinely think we have the right man in charge, but I would expect him to be a little more consistent with team selection. I know we have a big squad but we really need to nail down a solid team. It’s getting a little frustrating not knowing who will be playing or how they will line up. Take the points and move on. COYB

Billericay12 added 17:20 - Feb 5
A poor performance against a poor side that over performed. Hard to see where the goals or opportunities are coming from right now.
The positives though are that since KM took over we have 15 points from 7 games which is over the 2 points per game target we need. Also 2 wins from 3 without Morsy who I think is a big miss. If we win at Doncaster on Tuesday we will have overcome a different period without our Captain where we haven’t played well in any of the games and taken 9 from 12. Onwards and upwards. COYB.

SickParrot added 17:21 - Feb 5
I hope that KM will be critical of that performance and admit that we were lucky to win.

johnwarksshorts added 17:21 - Feb 5
Poor game. Gillingham were unlucky. Take 3pts and move on but huge improvement needed.

Monkey_Blue added 17:22 - Feb 5
Late Oxford winner.I 8points off the play-offs

Bert added 17:23 - Feb 5
Our poorest home performance for some time. Sloppy passing and lethargic at times. Gillingham so much better than a month ago. We miss Morsy to marshall midfield. Edwards bright when he came on. Not a game to linger in my memory but 3 points means the season is still alive.

blueboy1981 added 17:24 - Feb 5
Phew !! - anyone happy with that is seriously deluded as to what we are capable of - don’t forget Bolton, Wednesday, and Gillingham today - How many Shots on Target ?? - proves a serious problem and a failing.
This is Division 3 - and look at our squad compared with many others around us ? - and we are supposed to have the TALENT !!!
Where is it ???
Three Points, and Thankful - but not deserved, and by the skin of the teeth…. !!!

Suffolkboy added 17:29 - Feb 5
Let’s see what KM concludes ,or feels able to talk about OR wants to talk about !
A welcome 3 points from a scruffy ,untidy performance with apparently nobody in an ITFC shirt distinguishing either themselves or the game .
Looks like we are frail in a number of footballing qualities and in mental fortitude and. ( still) conviction ; have these people yet ‘gelled ‘ and started even to understand one another ?
SORT them out KM , teach them how , convince them they can and instil some disciplined determination ; it’s looking as if ITFC hasn’t actually imported any with strength of character .
We can do better !

barrystedmunds added 17:38 - Feb 5
I’ll take the 3 points everyday but our stuttering performances are a concern. Is it down to KMKs selection issues or something more fundamental? If we are going to make the playoffs, I’m not sure we will, we really need to be making hay and the brutal truth is we haven’t really shown that we’re capable of doing that to date. Ever the optimist!!! COYB

EssexTractor added 17:46 - Feb 5
I can see that KM wants to look at the players he has inherited , having offloaded a few, a chance for Pigott today but although I hear voices say give him a run , to me as a centre forward he doesn’t have it. In the air no better than the diminutive Chaplin and as goal threat nothing today .
For Norwood only in last 10 minutes did I realise he was on the pitch.
We all have our views of course but if I were KM i would be changing all three “ centre forwards” in the summer if his target is too make us really really better .
Aside from that I share the view of others that midfield lacks “ oomph” the way of class and energy.
Today we very lucky .The normally awful Gillingham deserved more than they got.


ArnieM added 17:47 - Feb 5
It’s 3 points .,,, move on 👍

Nobbysnuts added 17:52 - Feb 5
Awful performance...we certainly got away with one there. Simply not good enough or perhaps we're just not very good.

BurleysGloryDays added 17:56 - Feb 5
A starting lineup that didn’t inspire and was v dull to watch. KM still learning team but will be seeing enough to realise the gulf in class between Piggs and Bonne.

Against even a mid league team we’d have been 2-3 down by the time we had a shot to speak of.

It’s clear to me we have about 10 players that will in time make a great team, Walton, fridge, Wolf, JD, Thompson, Burns, Morsy, Aluko, Bonne, Celina, Chappers. There’s a second rung of half decent players for this level but are largely otherwise weak links for the better players.

It’s pretty obvious though there’s a lot more work to do in next transfer window and we are where we are for good reason.

Players like Piggs and Nors unfortunately not good enough to carry us forward. They’re mid league 1 players.

Thompson looks a great step up on left wing.

Morsy was missed again.


cressi added 18:00 - Feb 5
Be realistic these players are not going to be good enough to get top 6
It makes you want to cry
Forget the Wark era they are not close to the kuki era

Cloddyseedbed added 18:09 - Feb 5
Dreadful game to watch. I thought Cook was back in charge. Sideways and backwards passing with no cutting edge and no good supply to the strikers. I thought Piggott and Norwood would do well together, they didn't. Norwood only started to put his self about when his mate Bonne was introduced. Piggott offered little. Midfield was lethargic and offered nothing going forwards. Wide men, especially Burns were poor and Burns looked uninterested and unmotivated. Edmundson again looked uncomfortable and always looked to have a mistake in him. How can we go backwards in our attitude, commitment, endeavour and idea's so badly from our flying start under McKenna. Is it because he's tinkering with the side too much. Where was KVY and Aluko today? Surely if not in the starting 11 they are a must on the bench. I was disappointed Aluko did not start the game, unless he is not fit. I know we won and we needed 3 pts but the way we turned up today for what was an important game was a huge disappointment. Too many 4's out of 10's!!
I would also like to add a comment about the referee. He not only let play go on for a long time after a serious injury to a Gillingham player, but once play was halted not once did he go over and see the player who was being treated or show any interest or concern. That was very disrespectful and unprofessional. The crowd behaviour towards this player when he was also waving in distress was an absolute embarrassment too, they should be ashamed of themselves and does not show our club in a good light at all. I wish the player a good recovery and hope the injury is not as bad as it looked.

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