Football: Millwall marauders maul Brentford

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Millwall . .6

Brentford. .1

THE old, familiar cry rang out round The Den yesterday - 'No one likes us, we don't care'. These days, last Wednesday's excesses at Southend apart, it is the excellence of Millwall's play which makes them unpopular opponents.

In demolishing a depleted Brentford side - suspensions and injury obliged them to employ two wingers as full-backs - Millwall consolidated their position in the trio of clubs giving chase to the First Division leaders, Newcastle.

Six goals - a total which Brentford last conceded just under a decade ago - brought Mick McCarthy's men almost level on goals scored with the two sides who share 45 points with them, Tranmere and West Ham. 'I looked at the tables this morning, and I knew today was going to be a very important game for us,' McCarthy said. 'Now we are four points clear of the next team, and the top four are just beginning to pull away a little bit.'

What concerned the former Republic of Ireland international beforehand was the reaction of his players following their midweek FA Cup defeat at Southend, a match which was disrupted by fans who, in McCarthy's words, seemed hellbent on living up to the club's bad, old reputation.

With Millwall's move to the 'New Den' - a multi-purpose stadium just down the road - scheduled for August, the club are desperately anxious to consolidate the more civilised atmosphere which now surrounds their efforts on and off the pitch.

McCarthy believes his side could well move into their new home as a Premier Division side. On this evidence, they would be well suited to it. From the very first minute, when Alex Rae, recalled to the side in midfield, cut in from the right past two players and drove a left-foot shot high into the net, Millwall attacked at will in an open game that might have seen them score even more than they did. Had it not been for three sharp saves from Kasey Keller, the match might also have yielded Brentford more than Gary Blissett's opportunistic 52nd- minute goal which made the scoreline 4-1.

Rae, an irregular selection so far this season, did his tenacious Scottish best to add to his score, twice forcing blocking saves from Graham Benstead, and five minutes before half-time he created a simple goal for Jon Goodman after surging down the left past Zbigniew Kruszynski and Jamie Bates and squaring the ball past the keeper.

That made it 3-0 - 17 minutes earlier, Millwall's centre-back Colin Cooper had headed home Ian Dawes's left-wing cross following a short corner.

Goodman earned fitting reward for his labours with the final goal 10 minutes from time. Before that his pace and determination had created two second-half goals for Jamie Moralee, an arrival from Crystal Palace in the deal which saw the Premier League side buy Chris Amrstrong.

Moralee now has 11 goals in 17 games. 'One million pounds plus Jamie for Chris,' said a beaming McCarthy afterwards. 'Not bad, is it?'

Millwall: Keller; Rae, Dawes, May (Holsgrove, 82), Cooper, Stevens, Roberts, Moralee, Bogie (Allen, 65), Goodman, Barber.

Brentford: Benstead; Statham, Gayle, Buckle, Bates, Chalmers, Allon, Kruszynski (Godfrey, h/t), Bennett, Blissett, Luscombe. Substitute not used: Jones.

Referee: B Hill (Kettering).