Millwall 2-1 Ipswich ~ Match Report

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After a casual shrug of our collective shoulders, we dismiss the romance of the FA Cup and the defeat against Birmingham for more pressing matters with the visit of Ipswich Town to the Den.

Ipswich are currently a club in turmoil, they sacked manager Keane, not for losing 7 games out of 9, as some of you may think, but simply because he is an ignorant, egotistical, self centred, narcissistic, belligerent failure, yet another example of a footballer who can’t manage.

So with Keane gone, Ipswich beat Arsenal in mid week in the league cup semi final first leg and appointed Paul Jewell (a reasonably decent manager) in his place and come to visit us with their tails up and a new belief in their bellies.

Only about a thousand fans turned up from Ipswich, which I guess is not surprising as most of the townsfolk can barely find their way to their front doors without assistance and, don’t forget, if there is a birthday in the town then 88% of the residents are going to be related and they will attend the birthday bash instead.

You can write on the back of a prostitute’s neck what I know about Ipswich but I do know that the fattest man in Britain lives, or should I say, is stuck there and of course they all drive tractors (maybe this is in case they are called on to move their fat brother/cousin/father/uncle?

But I digress...

Mr Jackett had problems a plenty without worrying about what Ipswich are doing. Injuries all over the place meant that our limited pack had to be shuffled extensively to try and cover the bases and so the line up looked a little bit lop sided and was as follows:

Forde in goal, Barron, Ward, Craig and Smith across the back, Henry, Dunne, Abdou and Schofield in midfield and Harris and Morison up front.

So as referee Williamson got things going a boisterous crowd of just over 12,000 settled down to see how our make shift side would fare against a team high on cup fever and new manageritis.

It was pretty good, to be fair. We looked compact and fluid and the passing and movement looked spot on. Ipswich had a game plan and that was simply hit it long and high to their two front men and we enjoyed a majority of the possession because of this tactic.

Our possession though, yet again, did not reap any rewards despite sterling efforts from a revitalised Neil Harris and a remarkable midfield performance from Alan Dunne. We pushed them and we pulled them but we couldn’t find a way into their net.

Then, just after the twenty minute mark, disaster struck.

A ball into our half saw Craig back off his man and the loose ball went for what looked like a fifty -fifty challenge but Barron hesitated and backed off allowing their man to knock the ball past him. This meant Craig had to enter a race to the edge of our box with Priskin and although Craig took him wide he still managed to toe poke the ball past the out rushing Forde. Ward, for some obscure reason, didn’t rush back to the line to defend the empty net and although the ball trickled past the despairing Forde, there was not enough time for Ward to simply clear it and it hit the far post and rolled apologetically into the net. 0-1 and totally against the run of play.

It shook our confidence, no doubt about that and they almost bagged a second goal soon after, in fact, they should’ve scored a simple goal after the impressive Peters hooked a hopeful cross into our penalty area from the right wing, it floated over everyone, including Forde and bounced gently off the cross bar.

Our static defence looked on as the ball fell straight to Priskin but he volleyed it miles wide from about three yards. It was a huge let off and it galvanised the lads into action.

In between the goal and the miss we had a mild bit of entertainment when their ‘keeper made a really theatrical one handed punch from a tame cross by Henry that went out for a corner. This led to a bizarre confrontation between ‘keeper Fulap and old boy Mark Kennedy. It looked like a head butt from the ‘keeper and despite howls of laughter and protest from the fans behind the CBL (they wanted a red card) the ref decided a stern talking to was all that was needed.

We bossed the rest of the half but again our failure to turn possession into goals was slightly perturbing, Morison had shots saved, one in particular was a real splendid effort from the visiting ‘keeper, but the elusive equaliser was nowhere in sight.

But on the stroke of half time we finally got our reward.

A free kick inside our half was hoofed forward by Forde and Harris won the header inside their area. His clever knock down fell right into the path of Schofield who hit a really sweet left foot drive that flew into the bottom corner of the net. 1-1! Thank the Gods of football; we were back in the game.

Much joy alongside much relief was felt all around the ground. The cheers turned to groans moments later as we missed a sitter that was, I am afraid to say, on a par with the earlier Ipswich one.

Harris carved out an opening through their defence and he slid an absolute, put it on a plate, my granny could have scored it, pass to Morison who managed to blaze the ball high wide and handsome instead of just tapping it into the open net.

The half time whistle went soon after and even though we had missed a golden chance to go in 2-1 ahead the feeling was still one of expectation that the three points would be ours.

The second half saw yet another change as Tony Craig failed to come out. This meant Mr Jackett had to bring on Hackett into the midfield and drop Dunne back into his familiar full back role with Smith moving into the middle of defence.

Morison was first up with a chance that was easily dealt with by Fulup and then Fulup again proved his worth to Ipswich by making a flying save from a Barron free kick.

Schofield, Hackett and Morison all had shots either saved or blocked by the resolute Ipswich defence as we piled on the pressure but we were just not getting the rub of the green.

It was a real backs to the wall display by the visitors and we were clearly superior to them in every department but as the clock was ticking down it was getting a bit, you know, disquieting that yet again our dominance had yet to reap its reward.

But with about fifteen minutes remaining it all changed. Harris had just been replaced by the returning Theo Robinson, now a fully fledged Millwall man and we had stepped up the pressure. Hackett picked the ball up in his more familiar position over on the right touchline and he teased and tormented his markers before cutting inside and then clipped a lovely little left footed dink over the entire Ipswich back eight and Morison was on it like a flash. As the ball landed on the six yard line he was all on his own and his outstretched boot guided the ball past the despondent Fulup. 2-1! That’s more like it! The ground erupted and the celebrations were a mixture of elation and satisfaction, except for one notable exception.

Steve Morison himself. What on earth was going through his mind I couldn’t even hazard a guess but as Schofield and Robinson came over to congratulate him he was walking like a zombie on night nurse, very strange indeed.

But we will cut him some slack over this. He had done what we want him to do and that is put the ball in the net, well done that man there!

The goal settled us down and we continued to run them ragged, the pace of Robinson was a new dimension for us but I must add that Harris’ performance was very encouraging seeing as how a lot of fans are writing him off. I know Bomber is not the future but he still has an important role to play this season and performances of this calibre are more than welcome in my humble opinion.

Well, I guess it wouldn’t be Millwall without a last minute fist biting moment and as we moved into stoppage time we had a glorious chance to carve out a third goal when Morison collected the ball on the left side of the pitch, just inside their half, he had Robinson in the middle, un marked with acres in front of him but the pass required was easily cut out by the only Ipswich man in view and the resulting boot forward saw Forde make a superb save to prevent an undeserved equaliser.

The final whistle went soon after and the three points were safely in the bag and despite a lot of changes we were deserving of the victory. The depth of our squad might not be to everyone’s liking but you cannot fault the commitment of the players who are giving it their all at the moment.

So we are over the middle section of the season now and we are sitting in a respectable league position. There is a chance of a play off place up for grabs now and if we have a second half to match our first half of the season, who knows where we will end up?

I know where we will be next week for certain, and that is away to Leicester. Not an easy place to get anything from and a tough test on our resources but if our resilience is in full flow then anything is possible.

See you all there?
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