|Division Two: Ipswich Town Home|
|Kevin's fitness battle|
INJURY-plagued midfield ace Kevin O’Callaghan will continue his fitness battle tomorrow, when Millwall reserves take on Reading.|
O'Callaghan was forced to miss the whole of Millwall's preparations after picking up first a stomach strain and then a hamstring injury.
But the £80,000 summer signing from Portsmouth came through last week's reserve game with Watford unscathed, and has an outside chance of being fit in time for Saturday's clash with his old team Ipswich.
"Kevin has a reasonably good level of general fitness but he has missed a lot of work and it is too early to say whether he
will he ready for Saturday said manager John Docherty.|
The Doc is still waiting to field all his four close season signings in the same side, but he is reasonably happy with the Lions start despite Saturday's 3-1 defeat by Bradford City.
"We never really reached the standard we set ourselves against Birmingham and consistency is what it's all about," he said.
Millwall fans get a chance to rub shoulders with the players when the Lions stage their Football League Centenary Fun run on Sunday week.|
Most of Docherty's first team squad will he taking part in the two and a half mile run which starts and finishes at the Den. Team entries from firms, pubs, clubs and schools are welcomed and there will also he a special prize for the wackiest dressed runner.
The entry fee is £2 for adults or £1 for juveniles under the age of 16, and entry/sponsorship forms are available from the club or from the SLP.
All proceeds will go to local charities.
|Call-Up For Kevin?|
Kevin O’Callaghan is hoping to convince Millwall manager John Docherty that he is fit enough to make his Lions debut against
Ipswich tomorrow. |
O'Callaghan, who joined Ipswich from Millwall for £250,000 in 1980, is desperate to play against his old club after an injury- plagued start to his second spell at the Den.
A stomach strain and a hamstring injury forced him to miss the whole of Millwall's pre-season preparations, but he has got two reserve team games under his belt and is anxious for a first team call-up.
"Kevin looked very good in training on Thursday morning and I will have to weigh the situation up carefully," explained, Docherty.
"The fact that we are playing against Ipswich could give Kevin an extra lift, but against that we played very well in our.
last home match and it might not be right to change things.”|
"We have talked quite a bit about what happened at Bradford and the importance of getting back into the sort of spirit and determination we showed in our last home match against. Birmingham," added the Doc.
"It always takes time for new players to fit into the side and we have picked up some niggling injuries, but I am still reasonably pleased with the way the things are going."
Striker Tony Cascarino will be anxious to improve his tally of one goal in seven games against Ipswich - one of the posse of clubs who showed an interest in him before his £220,000 move to Millwall during the summer.
But Cascarino and Millwall could be frustrated by a miserly defence that has so far only conceded two goals in six Second Division matches under new-manager John Duncan.
|Cup tie all-ticket|
THE away leg of Millwall's Littlewoods Cup tie with First Division leaders Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, September 23, will be an all ticket affair.|
Loftus Road officials decided to impose ticket restrictions after drastically reducing the size of the visiting supporters enclosure during the, summer.
"It is not that they are expecting any trouble, it is purely for the convenience and comfort of our own supporters," stressed Millwall's chief executive Graham Hortop.
Tickets for the attractive second round tie will be available before and after tomorrow's clash with Ipswich, or from the Den during normal office hours. The match is scheduled to kick off at 7.45 p.m., said Millwall have no plans to make the return leg on Tuesday, October 6 all ticket.
John Docherty must he longing for the day when he can pencil all four of his expensive summer signings onto the same team sheet.|
No sooner had Kevin O'Callaghan declared himself fit to face his old club, than defender Steve Wood limped out of the reckoning with a hamstring injury.
And the Lions' preparations were disrupted still further when George Lawrence was struck down with a stomach infection and advised not to play by the club's doctor.
Small wonder then that "the Doc" could scarcely conceal his delight after watching his makeshift side make it three wins out of three in front of their own supporters.
"It wasn't exactly the ideal preparation losing Steve and George, but somebody up there must like me because thankfully Kevin was ready just when we needed him most," said Docherty.
O'Callaghan's fairytale return to the Den may have grabbed all the Sunday paper headlines, but Millwall's unsung heroes deserve the Lion's share of the credit.
Danis "I'll play anywhere" Salman proved an invaluable asset he is by slotting into an unfamiliar centre halves role that it wasn’t until the second half that Ipswich managed a serious shot on Goal.
And David Byrne, who takes more than his fair share of stick from the Den boo boys ran himself into the ground after being drafted in as a last-minute replacement for Lawrence.
Tony Cascarino sent one blistering shot over the top from an improbable angle and had another effort charged down as Millwall, bubbling over with ideas dominated the early exchanges.
Ipswich survived the onslaught for half an hour but their resistance cracked when
O'Callaghan, displayed his dead ball expertise with an inch perfect corner which goal hungry centre half Alan Walker power-headed past Jon Hallworth.|
But things changed dramatically after the break with the introduction of Neil Rimmer in place of the ineffective Mich D'Avray.
Salman was adjudged to have bundled Dalien Atkinson off the ball in the 52nd minute after an unfortunate mix-up with teenage full back Sean Sparham had presented the Ipswich striker with a rare opening.
And Salman's frustration at referee Alan Seville's decision turned to despair when Brennan powered a 20-yard free kick past Horne and into the bottom left hand corner.
But Docherty has instilled plenty of spirit and determination into his side and after Teddy Sheringham had rattled the crossbar with a superb sprawling header the stage was set for O'Callaghan's late penalty heroics.
The livewire midfielder skipped past three defenders and when Tony Humes ended his progress with a cumbersome challenge the only question mark was over who would take their penalty.
Both Cascarino and Sheringham clearly fancied their chances, but Docherty handed the responsibility to O'Callaghan and the Eire international gleefully crashed the ball into the roof of the net.
"I am delighted for Kevin because he has had a pretty miserable time of it," said Docherty afterwards.
"I thought it was an excellent result and an excellent performance. Terry Hurlock and Les Briley were outstanding in midfield, Danis Salman looked like Franz Beckenbauer at times and what about my 18 year old full back.”
· Walker Tall: Alan accepts the acclaim|
Ratings: Horne ***, Stevens ***, Sparham ****, Hurlock *****, Walker ****, O'Callaghan ****, Byrne ***, Briley ***, Sheringham ***, Cascarino ***, Salman **** Booking: Stevens
Referee: Alan Seville
Match Rating 4
Millwall 2 Ipswich 1.................. By Kevin Nolan |
SORELY missing the services of the injured George Lawrence and Steve Wood, reshuffled Millwall's challenge to Division Two's leaders was spluttering badly with five minutes of this scrappy game left.
Comes the hour, comes the man. Former Lions' cub Kevin O'Callaghan making a satisfactory Millwall Mark II debut after a series of frustrating injuries produced precisely the skills which persuaded manager John Docherty to bring him back to his roots.
His penetrating solo run pierced the heart of Ipswich's defence until Humes crudely hacked him down ten yards from goal.
O'Callaghan picked himself up, dusted himself off and exacted revenge with a perfect penalty.
Players with close control running directly at defenders - it's sort of obvious when you think about it. Make room Diego, Kev's back!
Earlier on another of O'Callaghan's abilities - dead-ball kicking - had contributed to the Lions taking a deserved lead on the half-hour. His latest murderous corner was power-headed home by Walker, despite Harbey's acrobatical goalline efforts. At that point, Millwall threatened to run away with it. With Walker easily handling the puny challenge of D'Avray and Hurlock showing there's more to his midfield repertoire than ferocious ball-winning, it was looking a doddle.
That kind of superiority has to be turned into goals, of course, and though Cascarino and Sheringham seemed able to turn the cumbersome Cranson at will, a lack of ruthless finishing sent the visitors in for their half-time tea still fancying their chances.
Rimmer replaced D'Avray and the talented but frustrating Dozzell was pushed forward in the search for an equaliser. The move nearly paid immediate dividends as Horne had to alertly leave his line to block Dozzell's progress.
Ipswich came again and Salman needlessly - and obviously obstructed Atkins. Punishment once again fitted the crime as Brennan struck Zondervan's tapped free-kick low past Horne from 30 yards.|
Millwall's concentration wavered alarmingly and only Walker's fine recovery tackle denied Atkinson. Briley's reckless challenge on Brennan was less acceptable and earned him booking by referee Abbott. His name joined that of Stevens cautioned for a first half foul on Zondervan, though Mr Abbott's displeasure may not have been unconnected with an earlier incident, when the right back crashed the ball into his back to stress his disagreement with decision.
Before hobbling off injured, Atkins name was also taken but this was never a dirty game and fitting, somehow, that it was decided by a moment of supreme skill.
With two difficult-looking away trips coming tip, O'Callaghan's late flourish was invaluable in keeping Millwall in touch with the top. His relief was obvious as he paid tribute to manager Docherty's patience during his injury problems.
"He's been really nice about it telling me to keep my head up. He could have got the hump over it,' admitted O'Callaghan.
Patience, they say, is its own reward Anything over and above is a bonus which is probably how the Doc will regard O'Callaghan's highly promising, second coming. Another prodigal Lion's returned to his den. Cue the Born Free music!
Millwall: Horne, Stevens, Sparham, Hurlock, Walker, Salman, O'Callaghan, Byrne, Briley, Sheringham, Cascarino. Subs not used: Morgan Carter
Ipswich: Hallworth, Stockwell, Harbey, Atkins (Woods 80 mins), Dozzell, Cranson, Zondervan, Brennan, D'Avary (Rimmer 46 mins), Atkinson, Humes.
Referee: R Abbott
|King Kev KO's his old mates|
Millwall 2 -1 Ipswich|
Debut boy Kevin O’Callaghan returned to the Den to torment his old club Ipswich.
O'Callaghan, an £85,000 close season buy from Portsmouth grabbed one goal and made the other as Millwall roared to their third straight home win.
He belted home an 82nd minute winner from the penalty spot after O'Callaghan himself had been dragged down by Ipswich defender Tony Humes.
O'Callaghan, starting his second spell with Millwall also made the first goal after 31 minutes.
He swung in a corner and Alan Walker rose unchallenged at the far post to send a rocket header keeper Jon Hallworth.
But Ipswich levelled six minutes after the interval with their first away goal of the season.
Ian Atkins rolled a free kick to Mark Brennan who drilled it in from 30 yards.
But the Lions kept plugging away O’Calllaghan coolly swept in the penalty to keep them amongst the early Division Two pace setters.
Ipswich boss John Duncan admitted: “I’ve got no complaints - from where I was sitting it certainly looked like a penalty. We could have won the game in the second half, but we just didn’t compete in the first 45 mins.”