Ipswich Town 2-3 Millwall: Hammer blow for Blues as gap widens after lead slips in must-win game
PUBLISHED: 16:57 01 January 2019 | UPDATED: 20:00 01 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town’s bid for Championship survival was dealt another hammer blow as the Blues allowed a one-goal lead slip in their must-win clash with Millwall.
It was all looking so good when Jack Lankester fired Ipswich ahead after just two minutes but, after the hosts failed to take a number of good first-half chances, the wheels fell off in the second period.
Shane Ferguson, Jake Cooper and Tom Elliott all found the net to stun a Portman Road crowd, so enthused by their side’s first-half display, and deepen the Blues’ troubles at the bottom of the Championship.
Kayden Jackson did give Ipswich hope as he superbly drove the ball home off the post, but the Blues couldn’t fashion an equaliser. Three points were needed in any case.
The gap to safety is now 10 points following another chance missed.
Lankester was one of three players brought into the Ipswich side by boss Paul Lambert, along with Ellis Harrison and Teddy Bishop, and the youngster had the home crowd on their feet within two minutes as he confidently cut in from the right flank, steadied himself, and picked his spot in the bottom corner.
Ipswich were on top and really should have made it count seven minutes later, when excellent work took Harrison to the byline before the Welshman pulled the ball back for Sears. Sadly, his effort from a tight angle hit goalkeeper Jordan Archer square in the chest and bounced clear.
Bishop had muted penalty appeals waved away after falling to the turf under pressure from former Blue Ryan Tunnicliffe, before the midfielder turned provider to set up Harrison for a headed effort which flew over the bar.
Still the Ipswich pressure kept coming, with Harrison having a superbly-crafted volley blocked, before Sears’ second big chance of the half came and went as the striker’s shot was blocked on route to goal by Tunnicliffe.
For all the Ipswich pressure, the back door was left ajar slightly and they were nearly made to pay as Jed Wallace raced the length of the field before seeing his shot well-saved by Gerken’s legs.
The half-time whistle was greeted by a rousing round-of-applause as the players left the field following a good performance. The only worry was whether the succession of missed chances would come back to haunt them.
Sears fired over from range to start the second period before Millwall found their feet, with Murray Wallace heading over the top from a corner, as the Blues began to drop deeper.
And they were ultimately made to pay as a long ball forward was flicked on by Steve Morison in the direction of big forward Tom Elliott, with Ipswich captain Chambers sending him crashing to the turf. The referee pointed to the spot and Jed Wallace did the rest.
Lambert found himself in the referee’s book as things became frayed both on the pitch and on the touchline, and he soon found his side 2-1 down.
Jordan Spence completely misjudged the situation after the ball clipped an Ipswich head on the way out for a corner, with the defender allowing the boll to roll out in the belief a goal-kick would be given. The following corner resulted in Cooper heading home.
The second Millwall goal brought a deathly silence to Portman Road, only awoken by the third.
A weak Pennington back pass put Gerken in trouble, with Chambers unable to sweep up the mess before Elliott turned it home.
Jackson gave Ipswich hope with a stunning strike which flew in off the post but, despite pressure which saw Dean Gerken sent up for corners, an equaliser didn’t arrive.
Ipswich Town: Gerken; Spence, Chambers, Pennington, Kenlock; Chalobah (Jackson 75), Downes, Bishop (Dozzell 65); Lankester, Sears, Harrison
Subs: Bialkowski, Knudsen, Nsiala, Edwards, Roberts
Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Cooper, M Wallace, Meredith (Morison 46); J Wallace (Karacan 90+), Leonard, Tunnicliffe, Ferguson; O’Brien, Elliott (Webster 82)
Subs: Amos, Skalak, Brown, White
Att: 16,957 (985 away fans)