Millwall 0 Brighton 2: Reid raises Brighton's faint hopes of a grateful escape

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The Independent Football

A passionate relegation battle that turned out to be as meaningful as two bald men fighting over a comb. That was the prediction of a seasoned Millwall watcher in the match programme, and both managers agreed with him.

This result combined with Southampton winning and Sheffield Wednesday drawing means both these sides are probably going to be relegated anyway, with only five games left. Brighton still have to face Wednesday, whom they trail by seven points and their manager, Mark McGhee admitted: "It's a bittersweet victory because the likelihood is that it is too late for both clubs. We'll both go down fighting if that is what happens."

McGhee won this battle with the cute tactical ploy of dropping his defender and captain Guy Butters and naming three strikers against Millwall's three-man defence. It worked a treat, with Brighton scoring twice through Paul Reid and Paul McShane in the opening 11 minutes.

Millwall's David Tuttle said his team were "dire", but believes the Lions will stay up if they win four of their remaining five games. Tuttle, 33, who has steered Millwall to 19 points from his 17 games in charge, has ordered his players back in for a meeting today and said: "That was the worst performance since I've been in charge. I will ask the players for a big reaction when they come in. Everyone thought we were down when I took over but I thought we could stay up.

"If we are relegated I deserve to get the sack. And I can under-stand why the crowd was having a go, because they pay good money, and I would probably be doing the same."

Refreshingly honest assessments from both managers, but the poor quality of this game honestly reflected why they are both destined to be playing in League One next season. The atmosphere was angry, and it is a good job they have total fan segregation at the New Den.

The opening goal came in the sixth minute as Gifton Noel-Williams crossed from the left and the Millwall goalkeeper, Andy Marshall, came and missed under pressure from Gary Hart, leaving Reid to drill in a low shot with two defenders stranded on the line.

McShane came up from defence to head in the second from the stand-in captain Richard Carpenter's corner five minutes later. Millwall battled but had no answer, and Brighton could easily have won by more.