“We’ll see you all next year,” chorused Millwall’s delighted supporters after a scrambled but deserved equaliser in added time. They may be right, although the clubs could still be two leagues apart by next Saturday night.
Queens Park Rangers, with a squad that should already have been promoted, fancy their chances of returning to the Premier League via the play-offs, starting against either Wigan or Reading, but will need to sharpen up in attack now that their numerous strikers are returning to fitness.
Meanwhile, Millwall, like fellow Championship strugglers Birmingham and Charlton, have been unable to win at home – one success in 12 attempts at the once formidable Den – and have been picking up their points on the road. They could yet need one more at home to Bournemouth next weekend, but Loftus Road proved another profitable venue and a fourth successive away win would hardly have been larceny.
The visitors were comfortable until conceding a foolish penalty in the final quarter of an hour, but after Shaun Williams’ free-kick hit the bar, they were a minute from defeat when Scott Malone, an adventurous left-back, mis-hit a shot as Joey Barton failed to clear and Robert Green could only help the ball in.
The penalty came from a cross by Junior Hoilett, who livened up his team after replacing the ineffective Yossi Benayoun. Simeon Jackson handled high in the air and Charlie Austin, one of those returning Rangers strikers, demonstrated greater calmness in putting away the penalty than most of what had gone before.
Millwall’s Ian Holloway was furious about the penalty award. “Handball has to be deliberate,” he said. “If he hadn’t blown, nobody would have said a word.”
It was just as well that Millwall supporters were in the upper tier, as Rangers fans, apparently forgetting that there is still a home game to come in the play-offs, invaded the pitch at the final whistle. One of them slid into the Millwall defender Alan Beevers, who was on the ground having treatment, but was prepared to call the incident accidental.
QPR (4-4-1-1): Green; Simpson, Onuoha, R Dunne, Hill; Benayoun (Hoilett, 62), Barton, Carroll, Kranjcar (Zamora, 73); Morrison; Austin (Doyle, 83).
Millwall (4-1-4-1): Forde; Edwards, A Dunne, Beevers, Malone; Bailey; Martin (Morison, 15), Garvan (McDonald, 64), Williams, Woolford; Maierhofer (Jackson, 52).
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Man of the match: Beevers
Match rating: 5/10