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Nugent discusses improvements after 4-1 Den win over Ipswich

Under 23s manager encouraged by young Lions performance

9 December 2019

Kevin Nugent has spoken in glowing terms of his young Millwall players after his Under 23 side claimed a 4-1 Professional Development League win over Ipswich Town at The Den on Monday.

George Alexander's penalty after a foul on Junior Tiensia separated the sides in a first half of limited opportunities, before a neat finish from Dan Moss made it two for The Lions.

Ben Folami's consolation halved the deficit for the visitors after the break, before Harvey Bradbury marked his return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a headed goal - and Tiensia giftwrapped the result with a clinical fourth.

"We asked the lads for a reaction here, as we weren't too pleased with our last game against Crystal Palace," the Under 23 manager says.

"We got that reaction. We scored some good goals, I thought the lads did well to dig in and it was a tough game out there. When Ipswich clawed one back for 2-1, we had to be mindful at the back as well as getting forward as often as we could. We knew it would be a tough one, and at that stage games can go either way.

"Ipswich had the momentum for a little while, but fortunately they were coming onto us and we were able to take advantage of our pace up top to create space in behind, so it worked out well."

Nugent explains that a key part of the young Lions' training methods involves maintaining a clean sheet mentality - and despite conceding in the victory, believes the performance shows it is moving in the right direction.

"I said to the players that last season we had about 13 or 14 clean sheets. We've drifted away from that a bit and that is something we need to get back to. We'll always create our own chances because we have plenty of flair, but we're looking to curb the number of chances we allow our opponents.

"We have to work really hard to keep as solid as possible out of possession. Even when some things weren't coming off in the first half, we limited Ipswich's chances and were still able to go in at the break 1-0 ahead."

Striker Bradbury replaced Billy Mitchell in a pre-planned half-time change made by Nugent, and wasted no time in getting back amongst the goals on his return from a serious ankle ligament injury.

Nugent also gives a word of praise to Moss and Tiensia, two full-backs who contributed to the scoring for The Lions.

"We're really pleased for Harvey - he's been doing really well for us," his manager says.

"Obviously his injury didn't come at a good time, but he adds to our side with his physicality. The goal he scored was a great header, from a fantastic Tanto [Isaac Olaofe] cross.

"I'm pleased for the two full-back lads to get themselves a goal each as well, it's a good reward for their hard work. Junior won us the penalty too in the first half by making a good run, and he can be a real threat going forward. We have to ensure with all the players that the basics of their game are very consistent. It's a really good bonus for both Junior and Dan here."

With two remaining matches - both away from home - in 2019 for the Under 23s, Nugent assesses the 2019/20 campaign as it approaches its halfway point, following three points in his side's final home fixture of the calendar year.

"We're pleased with the season so far, but there's plenty of work to do.

"As we've said previously, there's a big step up into Championship football and that's what these young lads are striving and working hard towards.

"We're definitely pleased with how they're going at the moment."

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