Millwall keep relegation at bay with dominant win over West Brom

Millwall 2-0 West Bromwich Albion: Though the two goals were lucky moments in isolation, in truth it could've easily been five or six for the hosts

Matt Murphy
The Den
Sunday 07 April 2019 14:07
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Ryan Tunnicliffe celebrates opening the scoring for Millwall
Ryan Tunnicliffe celebrates opening the scoring for Millwall

For a team under pressure as they hang dangerously above the relegation zone, Millwall certainly aren’t playing like it. Though they were entertaining an experienced West Brom side who’d won the last three since the sacking of Darren Moore, they delivered a comprehensively dominant performance that was more deserved of the win than their two lucky goals might suggest.

Up until today Neil Harris’s side hadn’t been ahead during a single league game at the Den in 2019, a strong indicator of the poor form they’ve been in recently. At one moment early on in the afternoon they even dropped into the relegation zone as Rotherham took the lead over Nottingham Forrest. But instead of allowing that fate to play out, Millwall were brimming with confidence, playing like a team in, well, West Brom’s position – comfortably cemented in the play-off spots.

There was discernable impetus flowing through the home team, slipping neat passes between the West Brom defence. It led to two chances to open the score early on – Jed Wallace and Lee Gregory both firing over, the latter of whom missed from just a few yards out.

The first goal of the game came after a short stint of Albion pressure on the half-hour mark, a counter-attack through the middle opening up the visitors. Ryan Tunnicliffe fired low from outside the box, not expecting to be rewarded for his effort as Sam Johnstone fumbled it into the bottom corner.

Mistakes continued at the back for both sides in the first half, though it was abundantly clear Millwall seemed the more in control. Hal Robson-Kanu should’ve evened things up for West Brom as an attack found the Welsh striker in space on the edge of the box, but his shot was fired hastily at the legs of Jake Cooper. Fulham loanee Stefan Johansen then came closer for the visitors with a flying effort that almost caught out David Martin, tipping just over.

The second half brought much of the same momentum as the first did for the home side, with West Brom continually on the back foot. It seemed for a brief moment Millwall were about to regret not utilising all that possession as Cooper brought a lively Dwight Gale to the ground on the hour, but instead came hearty cheers of celebration as Jay Rodriguez stuck his spot-kick wide. If West Brom were of the belief the pressure would somehow subside after that, they were very wrong.

What followed was Millwall at their very best, as the visitors began to crumble. Ben Thompson was particularly impressive, sitting at the heart of wave after wave of attack. They were firing on all cylinders now, and Thompson then doubled the lead as his ball along the goalline deflected in off Ahmed Hegazy. It then went from bad to worse for the Baggies defender in particular, who had no doubt his worst game of the season. The Egyptian was handed his second yellow for a foul on Gregory shortly after, cannoning the ball into the stands in frustration.

Jay Rodriguez fails to convert from the spot

There were a raft of chances in the final twenty minutes to bury the win for Millwall – it should’ve been five or six. Most notably when a long-ranged effort from Thompson was parried out to Gregory, who was the only outfield player in the box. With the freedom of the Den to tuck it home, Johnstone pulled off a commanding save, though it didn’t save his blushes for the earlier mistake.

Maybe it was the intimidation of the Den, maybe the lack of need to fight as West Brom sit motionless in fourth – automatic promotion seemingly just out of reach while remaining 10 points within the play-off spots – but James Shan’s side just didn’t turn up. We know how Millwall love playing the role of the underdog, and as the relegation zone looms below this time they donned it with pride.

Championship Roundup

Norwich extended their advantage at the top of the Championship to seven points with a comprehensive 4-0 win over managerless QPR as Leeds were beaten at Birmingham.

The Canaries, who have now won eight successive league games, were three goals up at the break after a dominant first half in which Emiliano Buendia, Marco Stiepermann and Teemu Pukki found the net.

Leeds started the day in second but finished it third after defeat at St Andrews. The Blues’ top scorer Che Adams had gone six games without a goal but ended that run on the half-hour mark to give Birmingham, who had lost five in a row, a first win since their nine-point deduction.

Sheffield United leapfrogged Leeds back into the top two with a 1-0 win at Preston, while Bristol City remain in the play-off places, despite Anthony Pilkington’s added-time equaliser for Wigan.

And Aston Villa scored twice in added time to make it six wins in a row and move up to fifth with a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

PA

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