Report: Millwall 3-4 Ipswich Town

MILLWALL came from behind twice against Ipswich Town but lost an exhilarating contest as Jordan Spence headed home two minutes from time to maintain his side's 100 per cent start to the season. 

Jed Wallace gave Millwall the lead in the first minute, but Ipswich were level three minutes later when Jordan Archer parried Joe Garner’s shot into his own net.

Ipswich took the lead 11 minutes before the break through striker Martyn Waghorn, but this time it was Millwall quickly hitting back as Aiden O’Brien superbly hooked a shot over his shoulder after George Saville had hit the crossbar, and Spence on the line couldn’t prevent the equaliser.

But the first-half drama of a riveting contest wasn’t over and after there were claims for a penalty when Saville’s shot appeared to hit an arm, David McGoldrick skipped by Shaun Hutchinson in the box. Archer appeared to have forced the attacker wide enough, but McGoldrick got there just before the ball went out of play, and Waghorn was there to turn his pull-back into the unguarded net.

The pace rarely dropped in a pulsating second half, and Millwall finally got the reward all their positive play deserved when substitute Elliott, who had come on for Steve Morison five minutes earlier, pounced at the back post in the 80th minute to poke past Bart Bialkowski.

But in the 88th minute, Elliott gave away a foul and Spence nodded home Grant Ward's free-kick.

Neil Harris wanted his side to be more ruthless in front of goal, and they were in the opening 45 minutes, scoring twice from two shots on target. The only problem was Ipswich scored three times from their three efforts on goal.

Archer has to take a large share of the blame for the first. Garner was 30 yards out when he struck the ball, and he got good power behind his shot, but Archer dived slightly beyond its trajectory and it went in despite the goalkeeper getting his hands to it.

Ipswich’s second and third goals came in similar ways. In the 34th minute Byron Webster was left to defend one-on-one against midfielder Ward with Millwall defenders caught out of place. Ward was too quick for Webster, and Waghorn read his team-mate’s intention to steal in unnoticed off the right wing to fire past Archer. This time there was little the goalkeeper could do.

And in first-half injury-time, McGoldrick had too much of a burst of pace for Hutchinson, Archer came off his line to narrow the angle, but the attacker shifted the ball beyond him and saw Waghorn unmarked in his periphery.

Millwall could really only have themselves to blame.

Especially when they had played so well, and started so well. It was O’Brien’s early delivery into the box that caused Ipswich defenders Spence and Luke Chambers to fail to clear the second ball under pressure from Morison, and Wallace was there to sweep home.

The home side’s equaliser was all about O’Brien’s instinctive ability to know where the ball is going to drop in the box, and then he had the ability, with his back to goal, to finish. O’Brien could have scored earlier but fired over after Morison’s shot had been deflected to him.

James Meredith had also been booked before the break, referee James Linington deciding he had fallen under no contact in the box.

Six minutes after the break O’Brien stylishly fashioned space for a shot when he cut in from the left, and it took Bialkowski’s fingertip to keep the shot out.

It was all Millwall, and after Morison’s shot deflected out for a corner, O’Brien tried a close-range bicycle kick but could only find the side netting.

The home side, though, as in the first half, looked vulnerable in the moments after they lost possession, understandable given the urgency in committing players forward. Ipswich had also succeeded in curbing the influence of Saville and Williams, who had dictated the rhythm in the first half.

In the 68th minute Saville showed why they had been so keen to get closer to him, when he drilled in a low shot from 25 yards that Bialkowski spilled before he stopped the ball from trickling over the line.

Harris made three substitutions in a minute with 15 minutes left, Shane Ferguson, Fred Onyedinma and Elliott coming on for Meredith, O’Brien and Morison.

And it was Elliott who got the decisive touch in the box in the 80th minute after Wallace’s free-kick had fallen to him at the back post.

That looked like it would be enough for a point, until Spence's late effort.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly