Millwall humiliation caps Lambert's nightmare week

Millwall 2 Aston Villa 1

The Den

Being an Aston Villa supporter is not an easy pastime at the moment but given the week they have endured, they must have feared the worst from their trip to face Millwall.

After a gutsy, if error-strewn, performance looked like it had earned them a replay, Paul Lambert's side were knocked out of the FA Cup by a goal from John Marquis in the penultimate minute of normal time. It was a bitter pill to swallow for a club that has had their fair share of lows over the past 18 months and it remains to be seen what another Cup defeat to lower league opposition will do to their already-sapped confidence levels.

It has been a difficult few days for Lambert since the ignominious exit from the Capital One Cup semi-finals against League Two side Bradford City. The Villa manager admitted he was left "feeling like crap" after receiving hate mail and even death threats in the wake of Tuesday's defeat, although it is believed he has privately received assurances from owner Randy Lerner that his job is safe even if they are relegated.

Visiting a packed Den on a frosty Friday night was the type of banana skin that Lambert could have done without ahead of the six-pointer against Newcastle United on Tuesday. With that crucial match in mind, leading scorer Christian Benteke was left out of the squad and record signing Darren Bent started as one of four changes from the Bradford debacle.

Having risen into the top six at the end of last year on the strength of a 13-match unbeaten run, Millwall's form has suffered since on-loan West Bromwich Albion striker Chris Wood joined Leicester on a permanent deal. A tally of four goals in five matches since the turn of the year has seen Kenny Jackett's side drop down to ninth in the Championship table but the visit of an ailing Premier League giant is always enough to set pulses racing in their corner of south-east London.

Despite the vociferous backing of the home crowd, it was easy to see why Millwall have struggled in front of goal. A tame shot by striker Marquis was all they could muster after 15 minutes of concerted pressure that left Lambert desperately trying organise his players.

Help was at hand midway through the half when Liam Feeney carelessly lost the ball and Villa finally had the chance to launch a counter-attack. Andreas Weimann sped past Danny Shittu and hit a powerful shot that goalkeeper David Forde could only push into Bent's path. The striker scuffed his effort but the ball span away from the retreating defenders and into the net.

If Lambert thought that may have signified a change in fortune, he was sadly mistaken. Less than five minutes later Shittu gained his revenge when he powerfully headed home a corner from the right to underline once again Villa's frailty from set-pieces and suddenly the visitors were rocking.

The Villa fan holding a sign declaring "In Lambert we trust" had his loyalties tested even more as the second-half continued in the same pattern as the first. A mistake from Ciaran Clark almost let in Andy Keogh but some smart inter-play between Charles N'Zogbia – at last showing glimpses of why Alex McLeish paid £10m for him 18 months ago – and Bent almost created a chance for Ashley Westwood.

A three-minute stoppage after bottles were thrown at a linesman allowed Villa to regroup, although N'Zogbia missed a golden chance to set up Weimann soon after. James Henry then wasted a great opportunity to put Millwall ahead within 60 seconds when his lob was easily held by Shay Given, but despite the huff and puff, the hosts struggled to carve open any real chances against a rickety defence.

Villa's determination to hang onto the ball in the latter stages showed they do have some ability going forward and substitute Barry Bannan was unlucky to see his shot from just outside the box saved 12 minutes from time. But just when they thought they were in the clear, the finger of fate struck once again as Marquis's header cannoned back off the bar and fell straight to his feet to slot into the empty net.

Football can be a very cruel mistress sometimes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape