Ipswich Town 2-0 Gillingham: Impressive showing for young Blues as Dobra and Folami secure EFL Trophy win
PUBLISHED: 20:52 06 October 2020 | UPDATED: 21:44 06 October 2020
Goals from Armando Dobra and Ben Folami proved the difference for a young Ipswich Town side as the Blues beat Gillingham in the EFL Trophy at Portman Road.
Dobra struck just before the hour mark to put a side packed with youth into a lead they would never relinquish, with Folami tapping home after good work from Liam Gibbs to secure a win which keeps the Blues’ hopes of making it into the next round alive.
Playing against a Gillingham side including significantly more experience, Town’s youngsters acquitted themselves well as they kept the ball better and created openings throughout the game, before finding a killer instinct after the break.
As promised, Town boss Paul Lambert went with a young side for the Blues’ second group game, likely picking up a £5,000 fine in the process after naming just two ‘qualifying players’ among his 10 outfield starters.
They were Janoi Donacien and Luke Woolfenden while David Cornell, with goalkeepers not counting towards the criteria, skippered the team.
Of those without the 40 senior games necessary to be a qualifying player, Jack Lankester started his first game in 20 months following back problems, while Brett McGavin, Dobra and Folami all were given further chances to impress having spent long spells around the first team.
Gibbs and Tyreece Simpson both made their debuts in this competition last season, with young defender Elkan Baggott the man to get that honour this time around as the 17-year-old young Indonesian international made his first senior appearance for the club.
By contrast, the Gillingham side was vastly more experienced, most notably in attack where EFL veteran John Akinde led the line and provided Baggott with a physical battle.
The young Blues had to wait for their first real spell of possession but, when it came, Woolfenden sent an excellent diagonal ball into the path of Folami, with the Australian cutting inside and firing a shot which was easily saved by Gills keeper Joe Walsh.
The visitors’ first effort was of similar strength, with Cornell easily keeping Matt Willock’s effort out, with the Welshman making an excellent stop a few minutes later as he sprung to his left to palm Alex MacDonald’s effort away.
After a slightly nervy start, the hosts began to grow in confidence as the likes of Dobra and Lankester got on the ball and looked to turn their man and drive forward, attempting to bring Simpson and Folami into the game.
Dobra was next to try his luck, shotting from halfway after keeper Walsh had played a low ball clear as he rushed to meet Woolfenden’s pass, but his effort dropped wide despite worrying the visiting stopper momentarily.
Town were passing the ball around nicely, without causing too many problems in the final third, but they did threaten just before the break when Donacien got forward to cross, with his ball evading Lankester but finding Folami, though the Australian could only drag the ball wide of the far post.
Baggott made a decent block on Trae Coyle in the final action of the first half, as the young hosts returned to the dressing room following a decent 45-minute showing.
Former Town loanee Dominic Samuel, briefly with Town in 2017, came on for Gillingham at the break, but the hosts continued to cope with the visiting frontline before taking the lead themselves just before the hour mark.
A Woolfenden header out of defence moved the hosts forward as the ball was played from deep into the feet of Simpson, with the big striker just about holding off the Gills defence to touch the ball into the feet of Dobra, who did the rest. His run was probing, his shot pinpoint as it found the top corner with a little help from the underside of the bar.
Town’s tails were up as confidence grew, with the second arriving with 15 minutes remaining as excellent work from Gibbs down the Ipswich right saw him win the ball back, drive inside and deliver a good low cross for Folami to tap home. The Blues were looking comfortable now, with summer signing Ross Crane, who arrived from Bury Town, coming on for a debut inside the final 10 minutes. Zanda Siziba and Allan Viral followed in stoppage time, with the two teenagers stepping onto the pitch for the final seconds.
Next up for Town in this competition is a visit to Crawley next month, where a win would likely secure passage into the knockout phase.
Ipswich Town: Cornell; Donacien, Woolfenden, Baggott, Ndaba; McGavin, Gibbs (Viral, 90); Lankester (Siziba, 90), Dobra (Crane, 82), Folami, Simpson.
Subs: Holy, Crowe, Smith, Brown
Gillingham: Walsh, McKenzie, Maghoma, Tucker, Medley, Drysdale, MacDonald (Eccles, 71), Willock (Samuel, 46), Woods, Coyle, Akinde
Subs: Bonham, Ogilvie, Jackson, Graham, Oliver