Report: Millwall 2-0 Bristol City
Saturday, April 7th 2018
City’s play-off fight continues despite a 2-0 defeat to Millwall at the Den.
Top corner strikes from Jed Wallace and Steve Morison sealed victory for the Lions, while City’s heroic defending and top-class goalkeeping from Frank Fielding prevented further damage.
Half chances fell to the Robins but the home side’s finishing meant they would secure the points and leapfrog Saturday's visitors in the Sky Bet Championship.
Republic of Ireland winger Callum O’Dowda returned to Lee Johnson’s starting XI after five months out with an ankle injury, while the head coach made four changes in total compared to the side which kicked-off against Brentford on Easter Monday.
Both teams were locked level on 62 points heading into this one, City sitting in seventh-place on goals scored.
And all four sections of the ground applauded in unity in memory of the late Ray Wilkins, the former footballer-turned coach who had passed away just three days earlier.
A QUICK START
The atmosphere which followed for kick-off was electric to set up a fast pace in the early exchanges.
Bobby Reid burst forward just seconds after the first whistle, as City looked to push forward from the get-go but when he was fouled, Joe Bryan’s free kick could only strike the Lions wall.
Frank Fielding had to be alert to palm away Steve Morison’s cross, while moments later Lee Gregory called for a free kick deep in the home side’s half.
It came after Korey Smith’s dazzling run and his attempted through ball to the feet of Reid was hoofed down the field. Gregory and Marlon Pack chased the loose ball, with the Millwall striker claiming a push from the City midfielder. Both fell to the floor but the referee was not interested in a foul either way.
LIONS ROAR AHEAD
But then came the first-half blow as Jed Wallace’s top corner strike left Fielding with no chance. Ben Marshall picked out his teammate on the left-hand side and the winger’s curling effort picked out the far corner of the goal to break the deadlock.
City couldn’t muster a serious effort in their search for an equaliser although Jamie Paterson tried his luck from distance, firing low and wide of Jordan Archer’s goal.
Fielding had comfortable saves to make to keep the score at 1-0 when he first denied Williams’ fierce effort from distance, before getting himself behind Wallace’s attempt from the edge of the area.
Johnson would have wanted a response from his players at the start of the second half and the chance for an equaliser almost fell to Eros Pisano, who couldn’t stretch far enough at the back post following Bryan’s free kick.
MILLWALL EXTEND THE LEAD
And the hosts doubled their lead just seven minutes into the second half as Gregory’s back-heel picked out his on-rushing teammate, who calmly slotted the ball into the top left corner, beyond the stretched Fielding.
City survived a scare almost immediately as the home side looked for a third. Wallace intercepted a Josh Brownhill pass and ran deep into the visiting side’s half. He picked out Gregory whose shot on the turn was blocked by Bryan, while Morison’s rebound was also blocked and Fielding’s heroics kept out George Saville’s effort before the referee awarded a City free kick among the carnage.
City weren’t without their half chances, which fell to Paterson after he latched on to Pack’s through ball but saw a shot blocked, before substitute Milan Djuric fizzed an effort wide.
The hosts were still looking comfortable however and a third could have fallen to Wallace at the back post but for Pisano’s last-ditch header to scoop away the danger.
FINAL ATTACKING CHANGE
Swedish winger Niclas Eliasson proved to be City’s final roll of the dice 15 minutes from the end but the Robins continued to defend, this time Pack was forced to use his lower back to block Morison’s effort at the back post.
Pack then went within inches of halving the deficit as he flicked a header goalwards from an Eliasson free kick but the ball wouldn’t dip low enough as it sailed over Archer’s crossbar.
Johnson’s side kept the pressure on to the end with Diédhiou’s blocked turn and shot winning the first of a handful of City corners, before he saw an effort of his own land just over the bar before the full-time whistle confirmed the result.
City, now 8th in the league standings, return to action when they host Garry Monk’s Birmingham City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).