MATCH PREVIEW: Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says Ian Holloway has inherited a Millwall squad just as good as his

New Millwall manager Ian Holloway

New Millwall manager Ian Holloway - Credit: Archant

Millwall v Ipswich: Ipswich Town once again run into a club with a new manager today as Millwall boss Ian Holloway makes his home debut in the Lions dugout.

The Blues drew 1-1 with Watford at Portman Road last month just after Giuseppe Sannino had taken over, while they surrendered a 4-1 lead at Derby in October to draw 4-4 after new boss Steve McLaren had delivered the half-time team talk.

Holloway’s first game in charge of previous club Crystal Palace was against Ipswich too, the south Londoners winning 5-0 at Selhurst Park in what was Mick McCarthy’s second game at the helm.

In the 14-and-half-months which have passed since then, McCarthy has transformed the Blues from relegation battlers to play-off

hopefuls. He is already the Championship’s eighth longest serving boss, with 17 second tier clubs having changed manager – some more than once – since he took over at Portman Road November 1, 2012.


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Holloway was on the shortlist of candidates when McCarthy got the Town job and, alongside McCarthy, is in a select group of managers to have guided two different teams to Championship promotion (Blackpool and Palace).

OVERVIEW

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Ipswich Town are just three points adrift of the Championship play-off places, while Millwall are just a point above the drop zone.

Few would have thought the gap between the two teams would be 14 points at the 25-game mark, both having battled relegation in 2012/13 and neither having spent much on transfers over the summer.

The general consensus in the summer predictions was that a mid-table finish and season of consolidation would represent good progress for these two clubs.

This afternoon’s game could go a long way to indicating whether that will ultimately end up the case.

Ipswich’s nine-game unbeaten run has recently come to a grinding halt; last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat to QPR seeing them drop out of the play-off places and Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss at League One side Preston ending their FA Cup interest at the third round replay stage.

Millwall, by contrast, are starting to feel a little bit better about things. Their winless streak may have been extended to seven matches last weekend, but there were many positives for them to take from Ian Holloway’s first game in charge – Huddersfield winning 1-0 at home courtesy of a last minute winner.

Ipswich have over-achieved so far to remain in touching distance of the play-off places, while Millwall have under-achieved to be just a point above the drop zone.

Those were the words – indirectly – of Blues boss Mick McCarthy this week.

“I think Ollie’s squad is fine,” said the Yorkshireman. “They’ve got as good a squad as we’ve got – I don’t doubt that at all.

“When we beat them down here, I know we won 3-0, but I thought that scoreline added some gloss to what it really was.

“They’ll respond to Ollie and he’ll get results.”

When Ipswich cruised to a 3-0 win at Doncaster on Boxing Day, the injury-hit south Yorkshire side did have an inexperienced look to it. Millwall, by contrast, have got experienced players like Liam Trotter, Lee Martin (both ex-Ipswich), Nicky Bailey, Richard Chaplow, Steve Morison, Andy Keogh and Scott McDonald to name but a few.

How will Ipswich respond today after hitting their first sticky patch of the campaign? How will Millwall respond to Holloway? An intriguing afternoon is in store.

TEAM NEWS

MILLWALL

– Ryan Fredericks – a 21-year-old attack-minded right-back – arrived on loan from Tottenham yesterday and could be involved today.

– Ipswich-born midfielder Liam Trotter missed three games over Christmas with a knee injury, but is in contention to start after coming on as a sub last weekend.

– Skipper Paul Robinson (thigh), Scott Malone (ribs) and Liam Feeney (hamstring) could all be pressing for a first-team return too.

– Striker Jermaine Easter sits out the second of his three-match ban following his red card at Southend.

IPSWICH TOWN

– Key quartet Luke Chambers (hamstring), Aaron Cresswell (knee), Cole Skuse (dead leg) and Daryl Murphy (thigh) have all been passed fit. The latter missed the defeats against QPR and Preston, while the aforementioned trio were all rested in midweek as a precaution.

– Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) remains sidelined.

OPPOSITION

Ian Holloway, Millwall manager

“I can’t wait to begin life with this set of supporters. I want the players to respond to their passion. We have a duty to them to play with pride and a passion that they deserve. That is our starting point.

“I want to see an improvement on last weekend, how we attack, how many chances we have, how many crosses we get in the box and the delivery of our set-pieces.

“We’ve got to be up for it, in their face. I think I know what they do and how well they do it, but there are a couple of things we will target and are good at.

“We are working towards a game plan. Last week was a case of having to batten down the hatches, this week is going to be very different.”

LIKELY LINE-UPS

1 David Forde

2 Alan Dunne

3 Dan Shittu

21 Jack Smith

12 Shane Lowry

18 Richard Chaplow

10 Nicky Bailey

6 Liam Trotter

13 Lee Martin

9 Steve Morison

27 Scott McDonald

22 Dean Gerken

4 Luke Chambers

6 Christophe Berra

5 Tommy Smith

3 Aaron Cresswell

8 Cole Skuse

19 Luke Hyam

16 Ryan Tunnicliffe

26 Paul Taylor

10 David McGoldrick

9 Daryl Murphy

LAST MEETING

Ipswich ended up cruising to victory in their opening home game of the season, but Mick McCarthy’s men – who had begun the campaign with away defeats to Reading and Stevenage – certainly didn’t have it all their own way.

The opener arrived in the 63rd minute when Shane Lowry turned an Aaron Cresswell cross into his own net. Tommy Smith headed home from a corner seven minutes later with Paul Anderson sealing the win against Steve Lomas’ side with a scrappy 83rd minute goal.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Millwall will need their most experienced players to raise their games if they are to get out of trouble.

One of those is striker Scott McDonald, the Australian having played for both Celtic and Middlesbrough prior to his summer switch to The Den.

The 30-year-old has only scored three goals in 20 games for the Lions, but – along with fellow experienced front men Amdy Keogh and Steve Morison – can be a handful when in the mood.

Town’s fortunes could hinge on their own powerful front man, Daryl Murphy.

The Irishman has been in the form of his life this season and was notable by his absence in the recent defeats against QPR and Preston.

With Millwall boss Ian Holloway set to go on the attack and Town dangerous on the counter, there could be goals.

PREDICTION

Current form and circumstances means I’m predicting a 2-1 Millwall win today.

The Lions performed well in last weekend’s last-gasp 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield and will undoubtedly be lifted by new manager Ian Holloway.

Ipswich have hit their first sticky patch of the season, showing an uncharacteristically soft underbelly in the defeats against QPR and Preston.

As always, I hope I’m wrong.

MATCH UPDATES

Follow EADT and Ipswich Star reporter @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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