Millwall 3-0 Ipswich: Lee Gregory brace and Ryan Leonard strike heap more misery on bottom-placed visitors
- Lee Gregory opened the scoring for the hosts in the 26th minute of league clash
- Forward Gregory scored his and his side’s second goal six minutes after break
- Ryan Leonard added a third for Millwall to seal comfortable victory on Saturday
If he did not know it already, Paul Lambert must now realise he has one almighty job to do as Ipswich manager.
Lambert watched from the stands in a flat cap and puffa jacket after being appointed as the man to succeed Paul Hurst, and it wasn’t pleasant viewing as Millwall made it back-to-back Championship wins on a very commanding afternoon for Neil Harris’s side.
Lee Gregory’s double along with Ryan Leonard’s second-half strike condemned Ipswich to an eighth league defeat and leave them five points from safety.
Millwall’s Ryan Leonard (2nd right) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Ipswich
Millwall’s Lee Gregory scores his side’s second goal six minutes after half-time at The Den
Gregory celebrates scoring his and his side’s second goal against Ipswich during league match
Millwall players celebrate doubling their lead against bottom-placed Ipswich on Saturday
Millwall (4-4-2): Amos 6; Romeo 6, Hutchinson 7, Cooper 7, Wallace 6; Skalak 6.5 (O’Brien 63, 6), Leonard 7, Williams 7, Ferguson 6; Elliott 6.5 (Morison 57, 6), Gregory 7.5 (Bradshaw 75)
Subs not used: Archer, McLaughlin, Meredith, Tunnicliffe
Scorers: Gregory 27, 51, Leonard 70
Manager: Neil Harris 7
Ipswich (3-5-2): Bialkowski 6; Chalobah 6, Chambers 6, Pennington 6; Ward 5.5, Dozzell 6 (Edwards 81), Skuse 6 (Spence 46), Downes 6, Knudsen 5.5; Sears 6, Jackson 6 (Lankester 56, 6)
Subs not used: Gerken, Nolan, Rowe, Nsiala
Caretaker manager: Bryan Klug 6
Referee: Robert Jones 6
Attendance: 15,386 (2,195)
Lambert won’t need Bryan Klug, who took charge as caretaker for Saturday’s game, to tell him what he needs to do to lift them off the bottom of the league and offer the fans hope that this season won’t end in the club returning to the third tier for the first time since 1957.
‘The game summed up and showed all our problems and our shortcomings,’ said Klug. ‘We’ve just talked in the dressing room and we need to find an identity and a way of playing which I’m sure Paul Lambert will do starting tomorrow [Sunday].’
Lambert will do well to figure out how to score goals while tightening up at the back.
One of the contributing factors to Ipswich’s seemingly helpless situation has been a lack of goals. They had scored only 11 league goals before arriving in south London. That number never looked like increasing with Freddie Sears and Kayden Jackson in attack.
Too often they drifted apart, failing to support each other as Millwall’s central defensive pairing of Shaun Hutchinson and Jake Cooper stopped them from linking. Three times in the space of five minutes they had the ball briefly under control on the counter attack before losing it.
Millwall’s Gregory scores his side’s first goal of the Championship encounter on Saturday
Gregory (third from right) opened the scoring for Millwall against Ipswich in the 26th minute
Unfortunately for Ipswich, Millwall aren’t as toothless. They went ahead when Shaun Williams’s corner was headed back into the six-yard box by Cooper after he got away from Trevoh Chalobah. The ball then seemed to strike Ipswich’s Cole Skuse on the arm before Gregory applied the finish past Bartosz Bialkowski.
More disappointment nearly followed quickly afterwards but neither Gregory or Tom Elliott could reach Hutchinson’s ball that required a tap-in at the far post.
A second goal was never far away and it came six minutes into the second half. Leonard’s long throw was flicked on by Cooper and Gregory had an easy task of finding Bialkowski’s bottom corner.
Millwall’s Steve Morison (number 20) challenges for a header at The Den on Saturday
Then came the third which summed up just how bad Ipswich are. Chalobah and Chambers misjudged Shane Ferguson’s cross, and after Bialkowski had come off his line to claim the ball but missed, Leonard put into an empty net.
Millwall’s fans only made it worse by singing ‘there’s only one Mick McCarthy’. ‘Careful what you wish for’ was the message when McCarthy departed at the end of last season.
McCarthy’s style may not have been the most pleasing on the eye but it got results, and right now, that’s what Ipswich so desperately need. Ironically, the retort from the Ipswich fans was ‘you’re nothing special, we lose every week’.
For Harris and Millwall, this was a third league win in four and a strong sign that progress has been made after a jittery start. Whether it was Ferguson’s work rate down the left wing or Gregory’s incisive finishing, you suspect they will soon be well clear of the relegation zone. Ipswich can only dream about safety right now.
‘We knew Ipswich’s situation,’ said Harris. ‘It wasn’t our best performance for a while but I thought it was extremely professional.’
Kayden Jackson (left) of Ipswich challenges for the ball with Jake Cooper of Millwall at The Den
Millwall’s Tom Elliott (right) and Ipswich’s Grant Ward rise for the ball in the air on Saturday
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