The first meeting in 10 years between London rivals West Ham and Millwall had been billed as potentially explosive, both on and off the pitch. When it came down to it, however, only the well behaved supporters of both clubs came out with any real credit from a damp squib of a game.
Trevor Brooking, the West Ham caretaker manager, now has only two more home games in charge before Alan Pardew takes charge on October 18. But even his infectious optimism was dulled by a "derby" that was more akin to a pre-season friendly.
"I don't think, on performances like that, we are good enough to get out of this division," Brooking admitted bluntly. "There were some individual performances that weren't good enough and I'm sure when Alan watches the video he'll see the same thing.
"We will face teams like this throughout the season and at home we should be doing better if we want promotion. They pushed us back and definitely deserved to get something out of the game."
A dull opening was followed by a brief flurry of activity when David James, the West Ham goalkeeper, saved well with his feet from Tim Cahill. A growing sense of frustration at the tepid nature of what should have been a fiery encounter was symbolised by the reaction to Jermain Defoe's weakly hit 22nd-minute effort. West Ham supporters chastised their striker as Millwall supporters impatiently demanded that their side push forwards.
Millwall, led admirably by their captain, Dennis Wise, eventually took control. It was ironic, then, that their period of free-passing dominance should end with a goal for West Ham, a jinking run from David Connolly ending with a neat left-footed finish on 25 minutes.
Millwall's sense of injustice at heading into the break a goal down saw their manager, Mark McGhee, make two half-time substitutions. But their value looked dubious when West Ham's Matthew Etherington rattled the bar three minutes after the break.
West Ham, however, have found goals hard to come by at home this season and the longer they went without extending the lead, the more Millwall exerted their influence. James was on hand to tip Paul Ifill's 66th-minute effort onto the crossbar and to safety. But on 72 minutes, Millwall finally got the goal they deserved. Ifill took his time to cross and Cahill arrived to power a downward header home.
The game ended as it had started - poorly - despite Millwall's best efforts to grab three points that they probably deserved. "We showed what a tremendous attitude this team has," McGhee said. "It was a low-key game off the pitch and I think we have gone some way to improve our reputation."
Goals: Connolly (25) 1-0; Cahill (72) 1-1.
West Ham (4-3-3): James; Repka, Dailly, Pearce (Ferdinand, 80), Quinn; Lee, Etherington, Horlock; Connolly, Defoe, Mellor (Alexandersson, h-t). Substitutes not used: Bywater, Garcia, Kilgallon.
Millwall (4-4-2): Warner; Nethercott, Ward, Craig, Dunne (Lawrence, h-t); Livermore, Wise, Cahill, Ifill; Peeters, Roberts (Harris, h-t). Substitutes not used: Gueret, Whelan, Hearn.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Booked: West Ham United: Connolly, Quinn. Millwall: Craig, Peeters.
Man of the match: Wise.
Attendance: 31,626.Reuse content