Gillingham 2 Ipswich Town 1 – Positives to take in pre-season defeat
Ipswich Town suffered their first defeat of pre-season this afternoon, losing 2-1 at League One side Gillingham.
Tom Eaves converted a harshly-awarded spot-kick (53) and Scott Wagstaff found the top corner from the edge of the box (78) for the hosts, before Danny Rowe’s header pulled one back for the Blues (80).
There were still plenty of positives to take for Town who dominated the first half with some high-tempo attacking play. Only some body-on-the-lie denied them before the break, while Bersant Celina hit the post after the restart.
The Blues started with good energy and tempo as Freddie Sears’ looping cross almost caught out keeper Tomas Holy early on.
They continued to stay on top and came very close to breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute. After a corner bounced in the six-yard box, Joe Garner’s close-range snapshot was blocked. Kevin Bru helped the ball back into the box and Freddie Sears side-footed a first-time effort just wide.
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Yet more desperate defending denied the visitors in the 25th minute. Following a sharp interchange between Bersant Celina, Grant Ward and Jordan Spence in the final third, Bru’s shot was saved and Ward’s follow-up well-blocked.
There were then a couple of defensive lapses by Town skipper Luke Chambers either side of the half-hour mark.
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First, Eaves out-muscled him to win a long ball, the big Gills front man then almost catching Bartosz Bialkowski off his line with a deft chop that had the Polish keeper back-peddling.
Then, moment later, powerful forward Josh Parker latched onto a raking Martin pass and left Chambers on his backside in the box with a feint. Tommy Smith came to the rescue with a last-ditch sliding challenge.
The swirling wind was playing a part and Bialkowski had to be alert to claw Martin’s inswinging corner out from under the bar just before half-time.
Following a rain-soaked half-time interval, in which neither manager made any changes, Gillingham broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute.
Referee Craig Hicks controversially pointed to the spot after Martin appeared to go down easily when looking to get beyond Chambers in the box. Eaves coolly converted.
Manchester City loanee Celina, who was afforded the freedom to drift inside from the left at will, almost scored a stunning equaliser in the 67th minute. The Kosovan controlled the ball, jinked inside past two defenders and curled a 20-yard effort against the face of the far post with the keeper beaten all ends up.
Rowe replaced Ward for Town in the 65th minute, with the other nine outfield players all then swapped in the 70th minute.
Gillingham made six changes of their own in the 75th minute and, not long after that, they doubled their lead with a fine strike from Scott Wagstaff. The former Charlton and Bristol City man cut in from the right before curling a fine left-footed shot into the top corner.
Town took less than two minutes to halve the deficit, the late-arriving Rowe stooping to head home at the far post following Conor McKendry’s inch-perfect deep delivery.
Moments late, Myles Kenlock went on a jinking run into the box before eventually being halted.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Spence (Iorfa 70), Chambers (cpt) (Webster 70), T.Smith (C.Smith 70), Knudsen (Kenlock 70); Ward (Rowe 65), Bru (McDonnell 70), Downes (Nydam 70), Celina (McKendry 70); Garner (McGoldrick 70), Sears (Morris 70).
Unused subs: Gerken, Crowe, Fowler, Patterson, McLoughlin.
GILLINGHAM (3-5-2): Holy (Nelson 75); O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer; Wagstaff (O’Mara 81); Bingham (Wright 75), Byrne, Martin (Chapman 75); Ogilvie (Cundle 75); Eaves (Garmston 75), Parker (Nash 75).