Date: 15th January 2011 at 4:56pm
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Paul Jewell was shown the scale of his task at Ipswich Town as Millwall came from behind to condemn the new Blues boss to a 2-1 defeat at The Den.

Naming his first ever Ipswich Town team, Jewell decided to stick with the side that claimed Wednesday’s stunning Carling Cup win over Arsenal. Tamas Priskin, who scored the winning goal, lined up for his first league start since early December with Connor Wickham in support, while Luke Hyam and Jason Scotland returned to the bench after spells out with injury. Meanwhile Kenny Jackett included ex-Town defender Scott Barron in his Millwall team, though there was no place for fellow former Blue Liam Trotter or on-loan Town striker Kevin Lisbie.

Eager to claim a first win over the Blues in three meetings this season, it was Millwall who created the first real opportunity of the game. A good passing move culminated with Steve Morison playing Alan Dunne into the box, only for the defender to blaze his shot off target from 12 yards.

Having wasted that chance, the hosts were then made to pay as Town scored with their first serious attempt of the match on 25 minutes. A long goal kick by Marton Fulop was brought down by Tamas Priskin, the Hungarian exchanging passes with Carlos Edwards before taking the ball into the right of the Millwall box. Tony Craig pressured the Hungarian to ensure the shooting angle would be tight, but the Town striker did very well to stroke the ball back across goalkeeper David Forde and into the far side of the net. Following his goal against Arsenal, it was the first time Priskin had scored in successive matches since joining the club, putting him level with top scorer Scotland on seven goals in all competitions.

The hosts had probably started the game the better, but were now battling to get the game back on level terms. Morison struck into the side netting after Fulop had failed to deal with a corner just three minutes after the Town goal. After a similar flap from the Hungarian keeper resulted in a cheap corner on 35 minutes, he was confronted by an angry Mark Kennedy, the two Town team-mates then squaring up to each other in a heated exchange, much to the amusement of the home fans. Despite a coming together of heads, referee Iain Williamson thankfully decided not to take action once the two had made up.

With the focus back on football instead of in-fighting, Town really should have extended their lead two minutes later. Amid rather wet and windy conditions at The Den, Forde was caught out when Jaime Peters’ cross from the right was blown right onto his crossbar. The Millwall keeper then lay helpless as Priskin raced onto the rebound, but instead of picking up his second goal of the afternoon, the striker blazed over from six yards.

Much as the Blues had punished Millwall for wasting their chance earlier in the game, Town then nearly suffered the same fate. Damien Delaney and Gareth McAuley allowed a long goal kick to bounce between them, giving Morison the chance to thump a firm drive which Fulop saved well.

That should have been a warning to Ipswich, but they were undone by another goal kick on 44 minutes. Forde’s long ball was nodded down by Neil Harris into the path of Danny Schofield who struck from the edge of the Town box to make it 1-1. The way the goal was scored had echos of Coventry City’s equaliser against Town on New Years Day, and coming just before half time, it was a major blow to Jewell’s Blues.

It could have been even worse for the visitors by the interval. Barron lifted a cross into the Town box which worryingly managed to beat the entire Town backline, putting Morison one-on-one with Fulop. Luckily for the Blues, the Millwall striker somehow skied his shot. That was to be the last chance of the half with Town perhaps fortunate to be heading in level.

The hosts brought on Chris Hackett in place of Craig for the second half, and it didn’t take long for them to carry on where they left off. Peters blocked a shot from Morison following a Millwall corner, then Barron struck a free kick from 25 yards which Fulop managed to push away before the Blues keeper was forced to save from James Henry soon after. McAuley and David Norris blocked further efforts from Hackett and Morison before the latter was denied again by Fulop getting out quickly to snatch the ball away from his feet.

Town had been second-best throughout the second half with Millwall enjoying the vast majority of the chances. The Blues might have snatched the lead against the run of play as the match reached its final quarter, Colin Healy stealing possession and swinging in an excellent cross which sailed just beyond Wickham.

Jackett sent on Theo Robinson to replace Harris on 72 minutes, and the hosts took a deserved lead three minutes later. Substitute Hackett crossed into the danger zone where Steve Morison – our Millwall ‘Man To Watch’ – slid in ahead of Fulop to knock home from six yards. The Town defence seemed to be looking for an offside flag to come to their rescue, but with no reaction from the linesman, Morison claimed his 10th league goal of the season to put Town 2-1 down.

Less than a quarter of an hour away from losing his first match in charge, Jewell reacted immediately by sending on another forward, Scotland coming on for Kennedy. Despite the additional attacking threat however, the Blues were unable to force an equaliser. McAuley headed from a corner but Forde got down at the far post to make the save, then the Lions keeper made a smart stop to deny Scotland after the substitute had gotten onto a long ball by McAuley. With that, Williamson sounded the full time whistle, handing new boss Jewell a defeat on his Town managerial debut.

Unbeaten in 8 before this match and very much in the playoff hunt, Millwall were always likely to be a tough proposition away from home after a very busy week for Ipswich, despite having beaten them twice before this season. The result, whilst dropping down one place to 20th, will not be too much of a concern to Jewell however, who said that he had seen enough in his team at The Den and against Arsenal to suggest that they have what it takes to keep themselves out of trouble this season. Certainly things are looking up for Priskin who, having been snubbed by previous boss Roy Keane, now seems to be enjoying a goalscoring return to the team, even though he perhaps should have had more than one at The Den.

Even so, an eighth loss in ten league matches will offer little comfort to Town fans, who will be keen to see Jewell inspire a quick upturn in results, no doubt aided by some new signings in this January transfer window. Hopefully he will have some time to peruse the market before the Blues’ next outing against Doncaster next Saturday.

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Craig (Hackett 46), Barron, Ward, Smith, Schofield, Henry, Abdou, Harris (Robinson 72), Morison – Not used: Mildenhall, O’Connor, Gallagher, Grabban, Marquis

Ipswich: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Delaney, O’Dea, Edwards, Norris, Healy, Kennedy (Scotland 77), Wickham, Priskin – Not used: Lee-Barrett, Smith, Eastman, Hyam, Civelli, Scotland, Fallon

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