When Peter de Savary takes over as chairman at Millwall on Tuesday he will find a club still in distress, but not without fight. Although largely outplayed yesterday, they held out against Leeds until three minutes into added time.
For De Savary the task of turning Millwall around will be more like that of changing the direction of a massive oil tanker than manipulating one of the crafts to which this former America's Cup yachtsman is familiar. The rocks of relegation are already threatening and the club is going to take a lot of care and money to be assured of a future.
Yet Leeds' current position up among the promotion contenders is an example of what a club who have been flirting with extinction can achieve. Their midweek win over Burnley was encouraging; so, too, was Millwall's first home victory of the season against Norwich City.
But there was nothing encouraging yesterday about the way Millwall were vigorously outplayed by gritty Leeds in the first half when Eddie Lewis and David Healy baffled their defence with shots that hit the post.
Only by quickly running out of his goal to intervene did Millwall's goalkeeper, Colin Doyle - making his first appearance - deprive Leeds of a certain goal when Ady Williams lost the ball to Healy, who was regularly unopposed.
Everything about Leeds, apart from their finishing, was superior at that stage. First to the ball, faster and seemingly fitter, they dominated midfield and quickly gave support to Rob Hulse and Robbie Blake. Indeed, it was not until the 56th minute that Millwall seriously troubled them, when Tony Craig's centre was well met by Paul Robinson, only for him to slew his effort across the goalmouth.
But this sight of goal greatly improved Millwall's all-round vision. They became slicker and looked for space in a way that had been absent before.
Yet their determined efforts were to come to nothing. A fortunate Leeds goal in the 93rd minute decided the game, when Healy's shot took a cruel deflection off Ben May and into the goal. That, as the manager Colin Lee said, was doubly hard to take because a few seconds before Doyle had looked to have secured a point when he saved a shot by Jonathan Douglas.Reuse content