Town subs tame the Lions
AN inspired double substitution led to victory over Millwall, which catapulted Ipswich Town into the top half of Division One.With the game at a stalemate Blues boss Joe Royle threw on Marcus Bent and Darren Ambrose eight minutes after the half time break and got immediate results.
By Derek Davis
AN inspired double substitution led to victory over Millwall, which catapulted Ipswich Town into the top half of Division One.
With the game at a stalemate Blues boss Joe Royle threw on Marcus Bent and Darren Ambrose eight minutes after the half time break and got immediate results.
Bent scored one and helped set up Jermaine Wright to hit a thunderous 30-yard goal against his first club. Ambrose supplied the corner which led to Tommy Miller's first goal and won the penalty for his second and Town's fourth.
Millwall took advantage of the changed formation in Ipswich's defence to level after Miller had given Town the lead. Steven Reid driving in from 14 yards after Neil Harris set him up.
Jim Magilton twice hit the woodwork as the Blues created a multitude of chances and Pablo Counago for once failed to take advantage of so many opportunities at Portman Road.
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Royle praised Bent and Ambrose's stunning contribution after they went on for Richard Naylor and Fabian Wilnis.
He said: "The kid Ambrose can make an impact. He ran at them and caused problems.
"Marcus has got all the attributes, he is like a panther when he runs, he is terrific in the air and is a great finisher and once again has score after coming on as a sub.
"I was going to do it at half-time as I felt we were looking tired after the holiday adventures we have had but I wanted to keep the shape with the three centre back a little bit longer.
"The game opened up when they came on but at the same time although our keeper was not too busy we had moments in front of our goal which I don't like. It is a fine balance but four goals at home makes me happy.
"Andy Marshall only had two saves to make but he did them well. Hopefully he has turned the crowd his way. They are fair-minded people but if he carries on playing like that then they will get behind him.
"Tommy Miller was terrific, not just with the two goals. Jamie Clapham was outstanding, not everyone's obvious choice for man of the match but again he was excellent."
Although happy enough with a 4-1 win, Royle still expressed concern at the way the defence struggled when changes were made.
He said: "Their goal was a case of people switching off and mental tiredness. On the positive side we have scored three cracking goals and four in all."
The win extends Town's unbeaten run to six and puts them in 12th place, five points off Reading who are in the last play off place at the moment.
Royle said: "It keeps the run going and while we don't need to rely on other people, the other results went well for us. Things are in our own hands, if we keep winning who knows. It is a fine line between being optimistic and knowing what we want and not getting carried away."
The win came at a cost though, with Thomas Gaardsoe forced off with a groin problem and already ruled out of Saturday's FA Cup tie with Morecambe.
After the substitutions both teams switched from three at the back to a 4-4-2, which Millwall manager Mark McGhee claimed suited them better. He said: "When it went to 1-1, I fancied us. 4-4-2 is more our game and things looked promising, But then we gave away two poor goals.
"We have now given ourselves a lot to do in terms of reaching the play-offs but for Ipswich it is certainly not out of the question for them. They are improving all the time their tempo is good they can pass and most teams in this division will find them hard to beat now."
The day got worse for Millwall supporters travelling home to London, when it was announced the A12 was closed between Marks Tey and Chelmsford. The Town crowd chanted: "4-1 and you can't get home."
The fact that the game went ahead at all was a testament to Ipswich Town groundsman Alan Ferguson and his staff's dedication. Scotsman Ferguson curtailed Hogmanay celebrations to be at Portman Road at 5am to put up the bubble, which protected the pitch and allowed the game to be played, despite torrential rain.