Wise strike finally sends Telford out

Telford United 0 Millwall 2
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Telford's dream of emulating their achievement of 19 years ago by reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup was ended with few alarms by Millwall, who avoided a potential banana skin on the Conference side's flood-ravaged pitch by easing through last night's twice-postponed fourth-round tie.

The noisy contingent of Millwall fans who had travelled up the M6 endured a long wait for the comfort of a second goal after Paul Ifill had given them a first-half advantage but the Millwall player-manager, Dennis Wise, struck inside the last 10 minutes to earn a home tie with Burnley on Saturday.

The groundstaff dumped 40 tons of sand on the pitch in a vain attempt to make the surface fit to play a week ago, as a result of which the pitch resembled a beach in parts.

"It was just about playable," Ray Wilkins, the Millwall assistant manager, said. "In the circumstances, I thought the football wasn't bad."

The home side missed the presence of Lee Mills, their match-winner at Crewe in the third round, who was ruled out by injury. The tall former Derby striker might have tested Matt Lawrence and Darren Ward, Millwall's centre-backs, where Christian Moore and Tony Naylor conceded a significant height disadvantage.

The threat of an early shock for the First Division side was muted, therefore, and it came as no real surprise when the south Londoners went ahead after 35 minutes.

The goal was credited to Ifill, although his long-range shot took a big deflection off Danny Dichio in finding a way past the goalkeeper, Chris McKenzie.

Telford had not expected to come up against Dichio, thinking that his loan from West Bromwich Albion had ended, but after five goals in three games Millwall have secured an extension pending a permanent move.

Millwall should have been in control by that point. But McKenzie had saved bravely from Tim Cahill after 10 minutes and then Neal Howarth blocked Cahill's attempt after McKenzie had dropped a free-kick four minutes later.

Those were not Millwall's only chances. Early in the second half, Dichio and Ifill each forced McKenzie to follow the ball nervously wide of his right-hand post from distance.

With 25 minutes remaining, the Telford manager, Mick Jones, at last gave his attack some height by sending on Justin Rowe.

Nevertheless, though Willy Gueret, making his first appearance for three years in the Millwall goal, felt it necessary to punch the ball clear on three occasions, he was not seriously troubled.

Then Wise at last relieved his side's jitters, adding the second with a fine strike from 18 yards with eight minutes left.

"I wish the game had gone ahead when it was first scheduled," Jones said afterwards, not entirely tongue in cheek. "A flooded pitch would have been a great leveller."

Telford United (3-4-1-2): McKenzie; Howarth, Whitehead, Challis; Ricketts, Hulbert, Simpson, Blackwood (Rowe, 64); Murphy; Naylor (Grant, 76), Moore (Clarke, 64). Substitutes not used: Williams, Lavery.

Millwall (4-4-2): Gueret; Muscat, Lawrence, Ward, Ryan; Ifell, Cahill, Wise, Livermore; Dichio, Harris (Braniff, 73). Substitutes not used: McCammon, Sweeney, Elliott, Roberts.

Referee: L Mason (Bolton).