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Ipswich Town hit four past lowly Millwall to close up gap to top two in impressive away display

Ipswich Town closed the gap to the top two in the Sky Bet Championship table to three points following a dominant 4-0 victory over struggling Millwall at the Den.

As in the reverse fixture, all the work was done in the first half when Nathan Broadhead’s 10th goal of the season set the Blues on their way.

Once Wes Harding turned into his own net and Kieffer Moore added a third, Town saw out the second half and added a fourth in stoppage time through Ali Al-Hamadi to claim just a second league win in 10 matches and move a point behind third-placed Southampton.

Nathan Broadhead celebrated scoring another goal against Millwall, having also been on target in the fixture at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
Nathan Broadhead celebrated scoring another goal against Millwall, having also been on target in the fixture at Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Blues recorded their biggest away win of the season in the capital as Kieran McKenna celebrated his 100th league game in charge in style.

Town boss McKenna made two changes from Saturday’s draw with West Bromwich Albion. Cameron Burgess replaced George Edmundson for his first appearance since returning from the Asian Cup, while last-minute hero Omari Hutchinson was rewarded with a first league start since December.

In his place, Conor Chaplin dropped to the bench for the first time in the league for exactly a year.

January signing Ali Al-Hamadi got his first goal in Ipswich Town colours Picture: ITFC
January signing Ali Al-Hamadi got his first goal in Ipswich Town colours Picture: ITFC

As for Millwall, head coach Joe Edwards made four changes from his side’s defeat to Coventry City on Sunday, two of which were enforced through suspension to Joe Bryan and illness to Burnley loanee Michael Obafemi.

Japhet Tanganga and Casper de Norre also dropped out, with Murray Wallace, George Saville, Ryan Leonard and Tom Bradshaw coming into the side.

A Lions set-piece led to the first shot of the game, when Leonard volleyed over Saville’s corner on the edge of the box, before Saville then called Vaclav Hladky into action after picking up a loose ball in a similar position a minute later.

Millwall were the more threatening side in the early stages. Clarke recovered well to prevent Bradshaw racing away on the counter-attack, then a set-piece dropped to Leonard whose low shot was parried behind again by Hladky.

Zian Flemming struck a low free-kick towards Hladky’s near post, but the Czech was equal to it to prevent the Dutchman from putting the hosts in front.

The Suffolk side struck the woodwork with their first effort of the game on 20 minutes. A Leif Davis corner found an unmarked Broadhead, whose shot from close range skimmed the top of the crossbar.

The Blues began to find their feet after a sluggish start, Wes Burns and Hutchinson causing issues for Jake Cooper down the Town right-hand side.

Just minutes later, the Blues opened the scoring in a league game for the first time in two months. Hutchinson’s cross was glanced on by Broadhead and into the corner of Matija Sarkic’s net.

Having gone eight games without a goal, the Wales international has now scored in consecutive games to enter double figures for the season.

Broadhead was at the heart of things again as Town doubled their lead just after the hour mark. Having been played through by Burgess, the former Everton man’s cross was turned into his own net by Harding.

The home crowd had turned and it could have got worse for the Londoners when Harding gifted possession to Moore, but George Honeyman was on hand to bail his team-mate out with an excellent challenge.

Millwall, appearing reliant on set-pieces, broke the Blues momentum when Wallace met Saville’s free-kick but headed over.

Town’s half got even better in first-half stoppage time as they added a third. Hutchinson’s neat one-two saw Harry Clarke get the better of Wallace, and his cross was headed home on the bounce by Moore for his 50th Championship goal and third in as many games in Ipswich blue.

The half-time whistle was greeted by a loud chorus of boos from the home support, while the near 3,000-strong Blue Army were in fine voice as Town led the Lions 3-0 at the break for the second time this season.

After a quiet start to the second half, Davis became the first man into the book for a foul on Romain Esse, before Danny McNamara joined him moments later for hustling down Broadhead.

The Blues were controlling possession in a half without any goalmouth action, with Millwall doing little in their attempts to decrease the deficit.

Midway through the half, McKenna turned to his bench to replace Broadhead and Hutchinson, both of whom had contributed well, with Jeremy Sarmiento and Chaplin.

With 15 minutes to go, Al-Hamadi and Lewis Travis replaced Moore and Massimo Luongo for the visitors, with the Iraq international playing as the lone striker.

An effort on goal in the half was finally registered on 79 minutes, when a loose ball dropped to Chaplin, but he saw his shot deflect and saved by Sarkic.

Moments later, Al-Hamadi burst down the right but his low cross was somehow poked wide at the near-post by fellow substitute Sarmiento.

Millwall’s evening was summed up when Flemming blasted over in acres of space from inside the penalty area, with a large number of home supporters having headed for the exit prior to Saville being booked.

Kayden Jackson replaced Burns in Town’s final change for the closing stages, then Leonard was booked for hacking down Sarmiento near the touchline.

Town made it four in stoppage time when Al-Hamadi scored his first goal for the club from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Wallace.

The Blues completed a league double over the Lions, condemning their hosts to a sixth defeat in seven.

Town are on the road again at the weekend as they make the long trip to Swansea City on Saturday (3pm).

Millwall (3-4-2-1): Sarkic; Cooper (c), Harding (de Norre 46), Leonard; Wallace, Saville, Honeyman (Mitchell 71), McNamara; Flemming, Esse (Mayor 71); Bradshaw (Watmore 71). Unused subs: Bialkowski, Tanganga,Campbell, Boateng, Walker.

Booked: McNamara, Saville, Leonard.

Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Davis, Burgess, Woolfenden, Clarke; Luongo (Travis 76), Morsy (c); Broadhead (Sarmiento 67), Hutchinson (Chaplin 67), Burns (Jackson 86); Moore (Al-Hamadi 76). Unused subs: Walton, Harness, Humphreys, Tuanzebe.

Booked: Davis.

Referee: Sam Barrott (West Yorkshire).

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Omari Hutchinson. Beside the opening stages of the game, Town didn’t have to do much defensively which allowed the attackers to flourish. Hutchinson, playing in a fluid role between central and right areas, was involved in much of the Blues’ play and his excellent cross for Broadhead set them on their way.