Millwall vs Birmingham City match report: David Cotterill lifts Blues as City finally stay out in front

Millwall 1 Brimingham City 3

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The Independent Football

Having avoided relegation in the 94th minute of the final game last season, Birmingham City have been throwing away leads with a regularity they cannot afford.

Two-nil ahead at the interval in pursuit of a rare victory last night, they slipped into danger of a familiar failing when Lee Gregory from Halifax Town scored his first Millwall goal early in the second half, but for once the Blues managed to keep right on to the end of the road. It was only a second victory in 16 games, lifting them out of the bottom four while Millwall continue to slide after taking one point from five games.

The visitors’ manager Lee Clark may have been restricted in his recruitment, but there was a sweet reward in seeing three of his signings on the scoresheet. 

The Welsh international David Cotterill, signed from relegated Doncaster Rovers, set up Clayton Donaldson, who ran in 18 goals for Brentford last season, for the first of them almost on the line and added the second himself before half-time with a clever dipping free-kick from some 30 yards.

Just as the home side were looking capable of playing on Birmingham nerves following Gregory’s goal, Cotterill crossed for substitute Wes Thomas, a summer signing from Rotherham, to ensure that for once not even this team could blow it.

Millwall had improved dramatically in the second half after Ian Holloway made two changes. Aiden O’Brien, on the right of midfield, had the greatest impact, his flick allowing Gregory to nip in and beat the onrushing goalkeeper Darren Randolph. 

There was sufficient pressure and enough chances to have secured an equaliser before Thomas permitted the visiting fans to sing “We always win at Millwall”, where they have not lost since 1996.

Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Hoyte (Chaplow, 46), Dunne, Beevers, Malone;  Abdou, Williams, McDonald, Upson (O’Brien, 46); Ranegie (Fuller, 69), Gregory. Substitutes not used Woolford, Briggs, Webster, King.

Birmingham City (4-5-1): Randolph; Caddis, Edgar, Robinson, Grounds; Arthur (Thomas, 75), Gleeson, Davis, Reilly (Packwood, 71), Cotterill; Donaldson. Substitutes not used Duffy, Hall, Lee, Doyle, Shinnie.

Referee: R East (Wiltshire).