Ipswich Town striker Ali Al-Hamadi admitted that he couldn’t have imagined a better way to score his first goal for the club, finding the back of the net in front of a packed out away end at Millwall.

The Blues were in cruise control in the second half of the match, having taken a 3-0 lead into the break thanks to strikes from Nathan Broadhead and Kieffer Moore, as well as an own-goal from Wes Harding.

The second half was a non-event, but in the third minute of stoppage time, Al-Hamadi was brought down by Murray Wallace inside the box, allowing him to step up and open his account for Town in front of a packed-out away end.

“It felt amazing,” he said after the match “That’s exactly how you dream of getting your first goal, in front of a packed away end.

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“I’m just buzzing. What a performance from the boys, and a step in the right direction for what we want to do.”

It was just the second penalty that Ipswich had been awarded all season – the first was scored by George Hirst in a 3-2 win against Swansea City back in November.

With Conor Chaplin on the pitch, he seemed the most likely candidate to take the spot-kick at The Den, but Sam Morsy made sure that Al-Hamadi had the chance to bag his first Championship goal and wrap up the win.

“A pen taker is a pen taker, but Skip helped me out and said ‘give it to him, let him get his first goal’,” the 21-year-old revealed.

Ipswich Star: The attacker scored his first goal for the Blues from the penalty spotThe attacker scored his first goal for the Blues from the penalty spot (Image: PA)

“When you take someone off the pen, you need to make sure you score. Chappers is a good guy and he was buzzing for me after that.”

Of course, Al-Hamadi hopes that this goal will be the first of many. To hear the away end singing his name at the end of the match was a surreal experience for the attacker, and his focus will be on keeping his head down and making sure that he can keep up his impressive performance levels.

“Whatever club I’ve been at, I think I’ve made a good connection with the fans,” he explained. “I’m a player that wears my heart on my sleeve. I’m passionate, I’m willing to run hard and give my all for the team.

“It’s been a good start and hopefully we’ll carry it on now.

“I try and stay away from social media. People like to make narratives and storylines, but I try to take it game-by-game and keep enjoying the step up, learning.

“The boss has been brilliant with me, explaining what he wants me to do, what my role is in the team.

“I’m buzzing to get off the mark, definitely. I’ve got someone alongside me in Kieffer [Moore] who’s been, and is, at the top level. I can learn a lot from him, so I’m trying to soak in as much from it as possible.”

Ipswich Star: Al-Hamadi feels confident that he can thrive in the Championship this seasonAl-Hamadi feels confident that he can thrive in the Championship this season (Image: PA)

A lot has been said about the step up from League Two to the Championship, and Al-Hamadi has certainly noticed the difference, but he feels totally comfortable at the level, highlighting the fact that he was never daunted by the difference between the two levels.

“I’m confident in my ability,” he stated. “It was never something I was going to back down to. There’s been many strikers who’ve made the step up before me in recent years. It’s not something that’s uncommon, for players to play in lower leagues. I think most of our changing room has played in League One or League Two.

“It’s storylines sometimes. That’s cool, that’s what the fans speak about. It’s the pub talk and stuff, but I don’t want it like that. I just take it game-by-game. At the end of the day, it’s 11 v 11 on a football pitch. That’s how I treat every game.”

It’s certainly been an incredible year for Al-Hamadi. On 14th February, 2023, he started for AFC Wimbledon in a 0-0 draw against Northampton Town, which was one of his first games for Johnnie Jackson’s side after leaving Wycombe Wanderers.

The Dons were almost relegated from the Football League that season, but the Iraq international finished the calendar year with 27 goals to his name. Fast forward exactly a year on from that stalemate at Sixfields and he’s helping Ipswich seal a 4-0 win against Millwall that puts them right back in the conversation for automatic promotion to the Premier League.

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind year for me,” he said. “One thing I would say is that I’ve been raring to go. It’s not come as a surprise to me because I’ve been so focused, so determined. I’ve worked my nuts off for the past year.

Ipswich Star: The 21-year-old is hoping to make his first start for Ipswich soonThe 21-year-old is hoping to make his first start for Ipswich soon (Image: PA)

“I think if you speak to anyone who’s worked with me, they’ll tell you how hungry I am to improve, perform and reach the highest level.

“There’s a bit of luck in football. For example, at Wycombe, it was probably a bit difficult. I was even younger than I am now with not a lot of experience. I had experienced strikers ahead of me in Sam Vokes, Garath McCleary and Anis Mehmeti.

“Sometimes you end up with players in front of you. You’ve got to bide your time and take your opportunity, and that’s why I ended up leaving to go to Wimbledon.

“It paid off, and I was raring to go. It’s been a mad 12 months and long may it continue.”