Derby on the boil

Millwall 0 Derby County 1 Sturridge 43 Attendance:7,694
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MILLWALL'S problems deepened further yesterday as they suffered their fifth successive defeat, and memories of their last win bonus, back in early November, faded into the distance. By contrast, their conquerors, Derby County, are a team on the boil, having risen from the depths of the First Division while the Lions have been in this tailspin.

It is not in the Millwall tradition to go down without a fight and they certainly fought here after Dean Sturridge had snatched the game's only goal two minutes from the interval. But their second-half offensive was more a matter of frenzy than anything that might have dented the composure of the impressive Dean Yates and Igor Stimac at the heart of the visiting defence.

The Lions' main hope of inflicting real damage lay mostly with the youthful precocity of Scott Taylor, especially when he was able cast off the shackles of his restricted winger's role and roam freely. Just such a diversion saw him leave a couple of defenders sprawling and then take a shot which just shaved Russell Hoult's post.

It was all in vain though as two minutes later Sturridge pounced for the decisive goal. Marco Gabbiadini, who continues to show the occasional flash of class, swivelled to take the ball from a throw-in and made the space for a delicate cross that Sturridge gathered and shot firmly past Kasey Keller.

Despite more possession in the second half, Millwall's aggression was more than matched. As another ear-bending from their manager, Mick McCarthy, loomed, Millwall just grew more and more frantic, and it was Derby who had the last say when, in the dying minutes, Keller was stretched to touch over another Sturridge shot.

The new Den still echoes to the same bleatings as its infamous predecessor. The lament for players sold who could have seen them into the top level is still very relevant in this part of London.