Bent buries distracted Millwall to take Ipswich to summit

Ipswich Town 2 - Millwall 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Thoughts of an up-coming European adventure appeared to distract a poor Millwall side as they allowed Ipswich to edge past them on their way to the top of the Championship table at Portman Road yesterday.

Thoughts of an up-coming European adventure appeared to distract a poor Millwall side as they allowed Ipswich to edge past them on their way to the top of the Championship table at Portman Road yesterday.

Millwall came into the game on the back of three straight wins and looked in good shape for the visit of Hungary's Ferencvaros on Thursday in the Uefa Cup, but were undone by the England Under-21 striker Darren Bent.

Ipswich had turned down a transfer deadline-day bid from Charlton Athletic for Bent, leaving Joe Royle, the Ipswich manager, to reflect on his good fortune at holding on to the bustling forward. "I am delighted with the result and apart from one scary moment we did deal with them very well," said Royle. "Millwall defended well. Their two centre-halves were resolute and they proved hard to break down.

"We needed a bit of inspiration and Pablo Couñago came off the bench to provide that for us. It looks as though his season has started because he made one and scored the other. We deserve to be where we are. Darren [Bent] is having a great time of things at the moment and the Premiership interest has boosted his confidence."

Bent added: "When you get a flattering offer like that it boosts you. But I haven't let it affect me too much. In the end the three points was more important than my performance."

A lethargic Millwall failed to impose their will on the game for any length of time, the midfield efforts of player-manager Dennis Wise and his former Chelsea team-mate Jody Morris blunted by a well-organised Ipswich side.

Millwall's new signing Barry Hayles, on his debut following a move from Sheffield United, struggled as a target man for the visitors, raising questions over Millwall's European front-line of choice.

Ipswich, however, dominated for long periods, with midfielder Tommy Miller looking impressive as he came close with a series of shots in the closing stages of the first half.

Striker Neil Harris set up fellow-substitute Stefan Moore for Millwall's best effort on 65 minutes, but his powerful shot was well-saved by Kelvin Davis.

It was Bent, fresh from scoring three goals for England in their recent Under-21 clashes, who provided the touch of class as Ipswich went ahead on 83 minutes. He seized upon confusion in the Millwall penalty area to lob past the on-rushing Graham Stack.

Couñago sealed the points for Ipswich in the 89th-minute with a sharp strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Goals: Bent (83) 1-0; Couñago (89) 2-0.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Davis; Diallo, Vos, Naylor, Wilnis; Miller, Magilton, Horlock, Westlake; Bent, Kuqi (Couñago, 67). Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Richards, Dinning, Bowditch.

Millwall (4-4-2): Stack; Elliott, Lawrence, Ward, Simpson; Serioux, Wise (Muscat, 71), Morris, Livermore; Hayles (Moore, 57), McCammon (Harris, 62). Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Cogan.

Referee: A Bates (Staffordshire).

Man of the match: Miller.

Attendance: 21,246.

Comments