Crystal Palace 1 Millwall 1: Lee sets out the bottom line as Millwall live on borrowed time

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The Independent Football

Colin Lee, Millwall's manager, was introduced to Peter de Savary, his new chairman, at the training ground on Friday. He hopes to follow up by meeting the flamboyant businessman this week, when he will stress the threadbare state of his first-team squad.

Five of Millwall's starting line-up at Selhurst Park on Saturday were on loan. Ady Williams was playing his last game before returning to Coventry and Jermaine Wright will shortly be rejoining Leeds. Phil Ifill, unfit to play here, is about to head back to Tottenham.

"Everything is dictated by finances these days, but if we're going to bring players in during the transfer window we need to know how much money is available and whether we're looking for permanent or loan signings," Lee said. "We need to be identifying those players now."

Lee said he was "not one for statistics" but then came out with one of which John Motson would have been proud. "I looked at the figures for the team we fielded in our last game," he said. "Between them our players had made 563 appearances, but collectively they averaged only one goal every 11.3 games."

While Millwall are bottom of the table and have scored just 17 goals in 22 matches - only Gillingham have a worse record in the entire Football League - there are reasons for hope. This wholehearted performance followed a recent 2-2 draw against the division's early pacesetters, Sheffield United, and an earlier victory away to Wolves.

They also have a manager clearly well versed in making the most of minimum resources. Given his team's lack of strike power, Lee knows he has to play a containing game, denying the opposition time and space. The tactic worked a treat here. Williams and Zak Whitbread, on loan from Liverpool, were the pillars at the centre of a well-organised defence who were shielded by an industrious midfield.

Crystal Palace had most of the possession but created few chances and took a point thanks only to Ben Watson's 93rd-minute equaliser, which left Lee fuming. The fourth official put up a board showing two minutes of injury time, but Lee said that Dermot Gallagher, the referee, told him he had indicated there should be three minutes.

Watson worked hard to get his team going, but Palace's forwards rarely threatened. Andy Johnson, starting his first League game for nearly three months, looked ring-rusty, while Jobi McAnuff and Wayne Andrews offered little threat from the flanks.

Palace dropped Darren Ward, recruited from Millwall in the summer, but their defence continued to look shaky. Ben May was left unmarked when he headed home a free-kick by Jody Morris just before half-time and only the crossbar prevented Bruce Dyer from providing an action replay in the second half.

Goals: May (41) 0-1; Watson (90) 1-1.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Boyce, Hall (Hughes, 59), Popovic, Borrowdale; Andrews (Morrison, 61), Watson, Leigertwood, McAnuff (Soares, 73); Freedman, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Kiraly (gk), Macken.

Millwall (4-5-1): Doyle; Dunne, Williams, Whitbread, Craig; Wright, Elliott, Livermore, Morris, Dyer (Braniff, 90); May. Substitutes not used: Fangueiro, Cogan, Simpson, Igoe.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Booked: Crystal Palace Watson, Soares; Millwall Dunne, Williams.

Man of the match: Williams.

Attendance: 19,571.

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