FULL-TIME: Ipswich Town 0 Millwall 3
IPSWICH Town’s final home game of the season finished on an anti-climactic note with a flat performance and 3-0 defeat to Millwall.
The Blues went behind with little over two minutes on the clock as Andy Keogh slid in to bundle home a cross from ex-Town midfielder Liam Trotter.
An end-of-season feel then crept into this game between two mid-table sides, with Millwall posing little attacking threat and Town restricted mainly to half-chances.
The Lions doubled their lead in the 63rd minute when Trotter rammed home from just inside the area after Ibrahima Sonko – only just on the pitch after Aaron Cresswell pulled up with a nasty-looking hamstring injury – could only half-clear a cross.
And they effectively sealed their fifth straight victory in the 83rd minute when Taylor dived to his left to save a Grant Leadbitter penalty, awarded after an Andy Drury run was halted in the area.
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Millwall then rubbed salt in the wounds with three minutes to go when Andy Keogh raced clear of a flat-footed defence, rounded on-rushing keeper Arran Lee-Barrett and rolled the ball into the empty net.
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With little more than two minutes on the clock, Keogh started and finished a sweeping move to put the in-form Lions ahead.
Ex Town midfielder Liam Trotter, playing on the left of midfield following his return from injury, provided the low assist, with Keogh sliding in to bundle the ball past defender Aaron Cresswell and keeper Arran Lee-Barrett, the former getting the last touch.
Town responded well after the early set-back and should have been level in the sixth minute when Andy Drury dragged a shot wide from an excellent position following good work from Ryan Stevenson.
The game then went rather flat after its entertaining and open start though, with the Blues getting nowhere near the impressive performance they put in against Birmingham at Portman Road four days earlier.
Michael Chopra nodded into the side-netting from a tight angle in the 15th minute, while he put a decent headed chance straight at veteran keeper Maik Taylor on the half hour following a super Carlos Edwards inswinging cross.
Grant Leadbitter saw a 25-yard shot tipped over the bar, while the closest Millwall came to scoring a second was when James Henry curled a chance wide in stoppage-time following a mis-kick from keeper Arran Lee-Barrett.
Blues boss Paul Jewell brought on striker Jason Scotland for Stevenson at half-time, changing to a 4-4-2 formation.
And after another fairly flat 15 minutes of play, Town almost pulled level through an own-goal. Chopra did superbly to dribble the ball inside after controlling Damien Delaney’s long ball over the top, with his low pull back hitting defender Paul Robinson right in front of goal and coming back of the near post. Scotland’s follow up effort was blocked by a crowd of players.
Town saw Aaron Cresswell pull up with what looked a bad hamstring injury just after the hour. It meant Ibrahima Sonko – set to be released in the summer – came on at centre-back, with Delaney moving to left-back.
Within a minute, Millwall had doubled their lead as Trotter rammed home a shot from just inside the area after Sonko could only half-clear a cross from the right.
Town missed out on a chance to set-up an exciting finish in the 83rd minute when Leadbitter saw a spot-kick – awarded after Jack Smith tripped Andy Drury in the area – saved by keeper Taylor.
And a miserable day was completed three minutes from time when Keogh raced onto James Henry’s through ball, knocked the ball past Lee-Barrett and rolled the ball into an empty net.
SCHOOLBOY Byron Lawrence is among the Ipswich Town substitutes for this afternoon’s Championship visit of Millwall.
The 16-year-old versatile midfielder – described as a ‘Jack Wilshere type player’ by manager Paul Jewell – would become the Blues’ second youngest ever player (younger than Connor Wickham but older than Jason Dozzell) if he comes on.
Jewell has made two changes to his side following Tuesday night’s impressive performance against Birmingham, a game in which Town dominated for large spells in a 1-1 draw.
Lee Martin, who has a groin injury, has been replaced by Ryan Stevenson in the central attacking midfield role. It is the Scotsman’s second start following his January move from Hearts.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas returns to the starting line-up following his equaliser as a substitute in midweek, replacing striker Jason Scotland as Jewell reverts to his preferred 4-2-3-1 system.
Jewell confirmed yesterday that Luke Hyam would have started had he not injured his thigh in training.
Ex Town midfielder Liam Trotter starts for Millwall after recovering from injury, while former Blues youngster Scott Barron is on the bench for the visitors. Lions top-scorer Darius Henderson hasn’t made the squad after losing his fitness battle.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Lee-Barrett; Edwards (cpt), Smith, Delaney, Cresswell (Sonko 62); Drury, Leadbitter; E-Thomas, Stevenson (Scotland 46), Murphy; Chopra (Carson 69).
Subs: Bowyer, Lawrence.
MILLWALL: (4-4-2): Taylor; Smith, Robinson (cpt), Lowry, Craig; Henry (Feeney 88), Wright, Abdou, Trotter; Keogh (Batt 90), Kane.
Subs: Forde; Dunne; Barron.
Attendance: 18,947 (1,298 away)
Referee: Mr Colin Webster