Ipswich 3-0 Millwall ~ Match Musings

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First away game of the season and me and MrsB were like a couple of newlyweds trying to curb or ridiculous levels of excitement as we prepared to set off for the very short journey along the A12 to the home of the archetypal multi digit banjo playing slack jawed yee haws of Ipswich.

This is no trip through Southern Comfort territory though and nowhere near the “pig squealing” delights of Deliverance (you won’t need Burt Reynolds rowing in to save you from a red neck buggerring) but it does open the untrained eye on how different the locals are from your average human.

That’s a bit unfair I guess (all northerners can be excluded from the average bit as they are a breed apart).

Naturally they all seem to like to wear the replica football shirt, it hides the hump backs and bestial hairiness of the protruding spinal column and a lot of them have taken to wearing sun glasses in a vain attempt to cover up the fact that their eye balls are always having a tug of war with themselves as they spin around in their sockets.

But in spite of all their clear indications of yokelness they have also added an annoying clacker type appendage to show their appreciation of anything (as if having too many fingers didn’t make enough of a racket when clattered together).

They are weird.

We parked up in the usual car park and made our way to the ground in good time and joint the 900 odd other Millwall fans who had made the trip. It is fair to say the atmosphere in our bit was pretty good, the Millwall fans all feeling the same sense of ‘first away’ game excitement were clearly ready for second viewing of the Lomas regime.

The team had a new member; Shaun Derry on a month long loan from QPR was by and large greeted with appreciative nods from the Lions fans as it is fair to say that the biggest criticism from the Yeovil game was the woeful pairing of Abdou and Wright in the centre of the park.

So, with Forde out injured, the team line up was as follows; Bywater in goal, Smith, Beevers, Shittu and Lowry across the back, Henry Derry, Bailey and Chaplow in midfield with Morison and Keogh up front.

Doesn’t seem too shabby, does it???

And in fact, it wasn’t at all shabby to start with, the midfield certainly looked more controlled but the tactic still seemed to be to hit the ball long from the back whenever the back five got the ball and the midfield only came into to play if they won the ball and the passing could commence.

Ipswich quickly got the measure of how we were playing and soon stared to dominate the game. Our defence looked wobbly and none more so than Shittu who still seems to be carrying more timber than is good for him. Is he on a mission to outweigh our fitness coach?

Lowry seemed a bit out of sorts as well and utility man Smith was getting caught out on a regular basis down the right flank.

Bywater made a complete arse of the first cross that came in but made up for his flapping when he raced out to smother the ball as Ipswich breached our somewhat frail defences. It was a clear handball from McGoldrick but the ref waved play on and Bywater was on his toes quick enough to thwart the attempt.

It was McGoldrick again who had the next chance, a glancing free header with the Millwall defence looking like Medusa had looked into their eyes, which luckily for us went just past the upright.

A couple of unforced corner kicks added to the pressure we were under and the first of these again presented Town with a free header that went over the bar and the second corner soon after brought out a decent stop from Bywater.

It was getting a bit worrying. The away fans did what they normally do when things are getting a bit twitchy out on the pitch and turned their attention to the home fans and picked out yet another target for ridicule (I know, I know, shooting fish in a barrel), a big bald headed man in a khaki vest with tribal markings tattooed on each arm became the butt of the joke and true to form he gave it back to the baying mob of Millwall fans and sure enough a steward appeared and told the sap to sit down and stop antagonising the nice lads from London.

Back on the pitch, we were holding them out but it was all one way traffic as they produced a couple of decent moves that really emphasised how static our back four were at times. A three man move ended with another attempt at the Lions goal but it was deflected away for another corner.

McGoldrick, a constant thorn in our side, again came close with an effort that was topped comfortably by Bywater.

We made it to half time with the score at 0-0 and I don’t think we forced their ‘keeper into one single save.

The second half saw Lomas make no changes but to the masses ranks on the away section the talk was all about ‘round pegs in square holes’ again. The same issue we had with Jackett. Chaplow is not a left winger. Smith is not a right back, Morison is not a big target man, Keogh is not a willing runner, and Shittu is not slimmer of the year.

The real surprise was that despite having the right player in place for a 4-3-3 formation they persisted in a 4-4-2 which just looked wrong. I myself would have been far happier with 3-5-1 as at least the midfielders would get more of the ball (I realise I put 3-5-1 as I am discounting Shittu until his fitness improves)

Actually, we started the second half with a flourish and finally created a chance. Good work from Chaplow saw the ball crossed right across the face of the goal but neither of our strikers made an attempt at it.

But normal service soon resumed as Ipswich went on the offensive straight away and it was only good intervention by Beevers that stopped Tabb in his stride but soon after they created another chance that thankfully landed on the roof of our net rather than in it.

Shittu showed us a brief cameo of what he is capable of when he timed his tackle perfectly to deny Ipswich as Murphy raced clear towards our goal.

Lomas made his first change about ten minutes in and he took off the ineffective Keogh and brought on Easter and at least this made the Ipswich back four work a little bit, Easter, rushing around chasing lost causes was better than Keogh staring into middle distances and waving his hands about.

We actually had our best spell of the entire match then. We should have and could of scored a couple of goals, First we had Derry cross to Chaplow whose header went just the wrong side of the post and then we had another decent ball fired across the goal but Morison just could not direct the ball into the net.

Then the wheels fell off.

Just on the hour mark Ipswich again got behind our defence and what looked like a throw in that should have been ours was given to them and as Cresswell bundled his way past Shittu his low cross was sort of deflected past Bywater by Lowry for an own goal. 0-1.

Lomas made an instant decision after this set back and got Feeney ready so at least we knew he could see that Henry was having a stinker and was going to replace him.

Open mouthed disbelief all round when Chaplow’s number was raised. So the tactics, it seemed, was to take off our decent midfielder who was being played out of position on the left wing for a right wing player who can’t play on the left at all and send over our right winger who was having a nightmare, to play on the left wing to accommodate the right winger he was bringing on.

I have just reread that about four times and it still makes no sense whatsoever.

It made little difference. Within about five minutes and after Ipswich had also made changes we were two down. McCarthy showed Lomas how to make substitutions as at least one of his changes made a difference.

A needles foul out on the right saw the ball delivered across our box by sub Anderson who found Tommy Smith in an aerial battle with Shittu and as Smith rose majestically like a gazelle and thumped his header home, Shittu was still in his downward motion preparing for a leap that would barely lift his gargantuan form above a blade of grass.

So, at 2-0 down, I am afraid the game was up. A trickle of Lions fans already made their way to the exits and left in abject misery. I guess they knew worse was to come and couldn’t bear it. I am old school though and always stay to the final whistle because I am a glutton for punishment.

The home side pressed hard for a third goal and we had no real response other than taking off Morison and bringing on McDonald who actually looked a better bet than Morison did all afternoon.

The third goal, when it came with about seven minutes still to endure, was another messy own goal. Beevers the unfortunate scorer as he deflected in an harmless ball in from Hewitt.

This goal saw a mass walk out from the Lions fans and those that were left were mainly staying to vent their spleen on the manager and players at the final whistle.

We nearly shipped in a fourth goal before the end as Ipswich, their tails firmly up, again sliced through our rear-guard with no effort but as Tunnecliffe raced goal wards we had Bywater to thank as he came out and saved well.
Our day was summed up when we had a chance of a simple consolation goal but as the ball fell to McDonald he was edged out of the way by Henry who blazed over from about eight yards with the goal at his mercy.

The final whistle brought a mixed reaction from those that stayed, some (including me) just sat there is stunned silence and the others (quite a few) making their feeling quite apparent with hand gestures and vocal admonitions that would make docker blush.

Lomas, it was noted, sloped off with his head bowed, not once looking across to the away section or at his players who were caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place as they began applauding the fans only to get dog’s abuse back.

Two games, two defeats, no goals for, four goals against, is not the sort of start any new manager would want or expect and if Lomas was under any illusions as to how quickly Millwall fans can turn then he certainly knows now. Next week we are at Home to Huddersfield and he will not have the luxury of being isolated as he was at Ipswich. He will be in the throat and waiting to be devoured if some marked improvements are not made.

Too early for me to condemn him though, I’ll be honest, I only put down what I see and hear but for me I will give him until about 12 games before I voice any real opinion on his managerial capabilities but for many of our fans, two games is more than enough to see what he is about and he will cop some flak next Saturday without any shadow of doubt if we fail to win.

“Even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility.”
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
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