Millwall head coach Joe Edwards pulled no punches about his team’s performance after tonight’s 3-1 defeat at Ipswich Town.
The Lions came into the contest on the back of a six-game unbeaten run on their travels.
But tonight’s fixture was effectively over by the break as Town, so strong at home, led 3-0.
Conor Chaplin, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Broadhead all scored inside the opening 40 minutes with substitute Kevin Nisbet bagging a consolation late in the second period.
It is now successive losses for Millwall, who are back at The Den this weekend against Sunderland.
Edwards told Sky Sports: “The whole performance was poor – but in particular the first half. We needed no warning of what they are capable of. All the things they did in the first half we saw in the build up to the game and we spoke about it and planned for it.
“But we started the game and we are a yard or two off in every moment, the basics were wrong. Similar to our game on Saturday it felt as if once the first one went in it really hurt our belief and from there it looked like there was one team in the game.
“As they have been in many of their games they were clinical. The shot from the edge of the box we have five or six bodies there and it goes through them. Still we set up tonight knowing that was going to be an issue – they fill the box well and are clinical. When you defend your box like that you’re always going to be in trouble.
“We spoke at half time and we did make a slight tactical change then because you do when you’re in that position, we made it very clear at the start of that half-time discussion that this wasn’t about tactics or system – this was about the basics of the game. It felt like second balls, people running off each other. All those absolute fundamentals you have to get right, in any game of football let alone coming here with the form they are on – I didn’t see it coming. We’ve got a good group in there of honest, hard-working guys but tonight we weren’t at it at all. We got punished.”
Asked if he had to deliver some harsh words in his half-time chat, Edwards responded: “Yeah. Which I haven’t had that experience yet with this group. I suppose that is part of the journey of coming in and working with a different group – you have to go through different experiences to find out and learn about your players and team.
“As much as these nights are difficult to go through they are valuable to see because we have to learn lessons from that.
“Even speaking to the guys who have worked here previously and in the Championship, we feel like it is a strong league this year. If you get the basics like that wrong, you’re going to get many more difficult nights like that. This group – the fundamentals, the body language and the duels – we need to do better than that. We were very clear about that at half-time.
“The goals were avoidable. We look open on the second goal when they initially build up, which was an issue we had at the weekend – so we need to get better at dealing with that. But once we are in and around our goal if you look at all the moments back there are enough players there to deal with it. It is the quality of your defending. It felt like in every position on the pitch, in the first half, like a case that man for man their players did the basics but also showed the moments of quality – because we were sloppy on the ball as well.
“They showed the moments of quality when they needed it.
“First of all I want to see a reaction from what we’ve spoken about, in terms of getting the basics wrong. And what seemed to happen to our belief after that first 10-15 minutes, after that first goal. This isn’t going to be easy and I can accept losing football matches – that’s the way the game goes. I can accept coming to a team away from home, that are on fire, and conceding great goals and losing football matches. I can’t accept the manner of that first half, in particular.
“We will have ups and downs in this month because it is a busy one but it can’t look like that again.”
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