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.

Life and Style
Divers at Bouldnor Cliff underwater site in the Solent off the Isle of Wight, where the silt sample containing the einkorn DNA was found
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower