Stu says: Six sightings after Millwall draw

Stu says: Six sightings after Millwall draw

Ipswich Town drew their penultimate summer friendly 1-1 at Millwall yesterday. STUART WATSON looks back on the action.

Millwall players celebrate with Benik Afobe, after he gave them an early 1-0 lead.
– Credit: Steve Waller –


Both teams had an error-laden start to the game. And it was a mistake that led to Millwall’s 16th-minute opener.

Luke Woolfenden tried to get out of his own box and go forward but was charged in by Benik Afobe and the former Stoke man finished cold.

Blues skipper Sam Morsy has berated midfield partner Lee Evans for not offering a better angle to receive the ball.

It was a moment that brought back memories of the summer of 2020 when Paul Lambert’s men were repeatedly punished for trying to play from the back.

“I hope it doesn’t happen again – it didn’t happen last year,” said Blues boss Kieran McKenna.

“We’ve improved our building structures a lot during our time here. But we can’t take that for granted. We have to keep working and improving that.”

“It’s not often an error on the ball, it’s often positional issues off the ball. There were certain movements and positions that we didn’t execute well. Obviously when you play at the higher levels – Millwall are a very good team and Afobe are a very good player – so there’s a chance you’ll get punished.

“We’ll keep playing the way we play, trying to control and being brave with the ball, because in the end it pays off. Eventually you can wear teams down.”

Sam Morsy with a strike early in the second half that cannonaded Millwall skipper Shaun Hutchinson

Sam Morsy with a strike early in the second half that discouraged Millwall skipper Shaun Hutchinson.
– Credit: Steve Waller –


A pre-season trend has been Ipswich improving in the second half. It happened here again.

The Blues had plenty of possession in the first half but, just like in the 3-0 win at AFC Wimbledon the weekend before, there wasn’t enough edge when the ball reached the last third.

Again, it was a different story after the restart as Town attacked their 507 away fans.

Freddie Ladapo equalized after 54 minutes and the game ended with Ipswich really pushing for a winner.

“It was very similar to Wimbledon,” admitted McKenna. “It was very hot, the grass is sticky and slow, it was a bit stop-start with a few injuries and a drinks break – I just thought we never really got our groove on and brought the game up to the levels of intensity which we like to play at.

“But from the first whistle of the second half we found that and when we see that we are looking for a better team.”

Overall, there were far more positives than negatives to take from this draw against a side that finished just three points from the Championship play-off places last season.

Freddie Ladapo celebrates after scoring to level the game 1-1.

Freddie Ladapo celebrates after scoring to level the game 1-1.
– Credit: Steve Waller –


The relief on Freddie Ladapo’s face was evident after equalizing.

After his skillful lofted finish at Needham Market, the summer signing from Rotherham had failed to take good one-on-one chances against West Ham and AFC Wimbledon.

So that goal, a cool side-footed finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, will have proven a welcome boost of confidence ahead of the big kick-off.

He could have had another moment later seeing a far post blocked by Murray Wallace’s punch.

Rotherham fans will tell you the 29-year-old is someone who needs multiple chances to find the net. A goal every two games (which he hasn’t come close to for the past four seasons) would do just fine.

Marcus Harness on his debut for Town at Millwall.

Marcus Harness made his first appearance for Ipswich Town at Millwall.
– Credit: Steve


It was Marcus Harness’ first outing in an Ipswich shirt.

The £600,000 signing from Portsmouth started as an inside left striker and like the team as a whole, it took him a while to get going.

However, either side of half-time he began to be on the same page as compatriot Conor Chaplin, as the pair twice exchanged crisp passes to break the lines.

Harness was also involved in setting up Ladapo’s goal, receiving the ball from Christian Walton’s quick throw behind the back and feeding Sam Morsy before his assist.

“When the game opened up a bit, he showed part of his receiving between the lines, part of his ball carrying, part of his linking play and the way he gets away from the ball,” McKenna said. “He’s going to be a good addition for us.”

Kayden Jackson controls the ball with his body as he runs.

Kayden Jackson controls the ball with his body as he runs.
– Credit: Steve


McKenna made four changes in the 65th minute.

Kane Vincent-Young replaced Matt Penney on the left, while the front three of Chaplin, Harness and Ladapo were replaced by Sone Aluko, Tyreece John-Jules and Kayden Jackson.

Kyle Edwards then replaced the calm Wes Burns, who came out on the right, eight minutes from the end.

Those fresh legs saw Ipswich kick into high gear.

A classic quick high press from Kayden Jackson and a cut led to Morsy to the side. The former clearly hasn’t lost any momentum since sustaining the injury in March.

Kyle Edwards looks to block Mason Bennett.

Kyle Edwards looks to block Mason Bennett.
– Credit: Steve

John-Jules, on loan from Arsenal, looks strong, delicate and direct. His driving run and cut cut from Edwards saw Morsy, once again timing his late run to perfection, see a shot blocked.

Morsy then saw another effort from range sting the palms of former Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski.

Finally, just at the death, the Blues came awfully close to scoring the winner that their front-footed play would have deserved.

Aluko played a deep pass into the feet of John-Jules, he deftly released him before turning around to clear a defender from the stage and Aluko, who had been continuing his run, arrived to hit the softest of upward shots 25 meters. Bialkowski was beaten from start to finish but the ball went under the crossbar and fell straight into the grateful hands of the former Blues keeper.

For all the talk of George Hirst, Bersant Celina and potential offensive rookies, it was a reminder that McKenna already had plenty of options upfield.


Dominic Ball and Greg Leigh were absent from the 22-man squad. McKenna said the pair, injured and ill respectively, will take part in the open training session at Portman Road tomorrow.

You imagine, all going well, they will then start Town’s final warm-up game on Tuesday night when National League side Southend United visit Portman Road.

#Stu #sightings #Millwall #draw

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