Match report: Millwall claw back lead to draw at Crystal Palace in the battle of south London

Crystal Palace 2 Millwall 2

For what more could you ask from a derby? This game had four goals, 10 bookings, tension, passion and precisely the right amount of unpleasantness.

Crystal Palace and Millwall will probably compete for different prizes this season but they were fighting for same thing here. Both teams played as if the pride of south London was at stake, matching each other for character if not for quality.

For 40 minutes the hosts were far superior and went 2-0 ahead. But Dean Moxey was sent off before half-time, Liam Trotter scored the penalty and the game changed. The second half was an exhibition in competitive courage from both Palace and Millwall. The home team, one goal up, one man down, with tiring legs, fought to hang onto their lead. Millwall’s task – from behind, against a better team, away from home – was not easy either, but they went about it with just as much spirit.

With 13 minutes left it appeared as if Millwall would not have quite enough, that Palace would hold on for their seventh win from eight games. But Josh Wright’s corner was turned in, not entirely advertently, at the far post by Mark Beevers. Darius Henderson even had a chance to win the game with three minutes left but Kenny Jackett was delighted with how his players, initially outclassed, had fought back.

“I was very pleased with my players for coming back from 2-0 own away from home, it’s a good achievement,” Jackett said afterwards. “We played well, we showed plenty of heart and courage and no little quality. I am pleased to say we persevered against a very resilient Palace side. It is never easy against 10 men, or when 2-0 down away from home.”

Despite that late equaliser, Dougie Freedman was just as proud of his own players. “We had to stick together,” he said. “It is another derby that we are unbeaten in. We refused to be beat today. It is as simple as that. We are happy with the point.”

The game turned five minutes before the break. Henderson’s header was instinctively handled off the line by Dean Moxey. Phil Dowd sent him off, Trotter scored the penalty and Millwall had the advantage. Freedman knew that had Moxey left the ball, the game would have gone differently. “I’m sure if he had time over again he’d let the ball go into the net. With 11 men we were going to win the game.”

It is hard to disagree with his analysis. Palace were excellent until then, playing brisk, imaginative attacking football, the best of it coming through Wilfried Zaha. His imagination and technique are remarkable, and he set up early chances for Glenny Murray and Kagisho Dikgacoi. Millwall’s defence only knew one way to stop him, and Zaha took understandable exception to some of his treatment.

“People try and put young Wilfried off his game,” Freedman said. “The referees have got to understand that that is part of their game plan, and part of the plan is to try to upset him. It is something he has got to learn to deal with. His performance today was fantastic. His effort and his skill and his ability to go past people are second to none.”

Zaha seemed to tire Millwall out single-handedly, so much so that there was no pressure at all on Mile Jedinak when he had the ball 30 yards out after 35 minutes. The Palace captain accepted the invitation to shoot and put his team ahead. Four minutes later, a free-kick from Owen Garvan was headed in by Damien Delaney at the near post.

“For 40 minutes we were excellent,” Freedman said. “We had real control of game, good passing through midfield and creating opportunities from wide. To be 2-0 up was the correct result.” It was, but it only lasted for two minutes.

Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1) Speroni; Blake (Ward, 66), Ramage, Delaney, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Zaha, Garvan (Parr, 43), Bolasie (Williams, 82); Murray

Millwall (4-4-2) Forde; Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Smith; Taylor, Abdou (Wright, 67), Trotter, Malone (Feeney, 55); Wood (Batt, 84), Henderson.

Match rating: 9

Man of the Match: Zaha

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power