Millwall – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0
Firstly my apologies for not posting a match preview for this one – I’d got it on my list of stuff to do on Thursday but a busier-than-usual day both at work and afterwards resulting in me completely forgetting to get around to it. Most remiss!
So, a trip to the supposedly hostile environment of The Den was in store for the Reds this afternoon – and a reasonably open game ended goalless. It wasn’t without interest though, the Reds had some good opportunities but were denied a goal (or indeed, too many close chances) down to dogged defending from the hosts. I was certainly pleased with the performance, although three points would obviously be better than one.
Billy had positive news on one injury – Robbie Earnshaw was deemed fit enough to return to the squad, but on the bench, less good news in the shape of Paul Konchesky and NAthan Tyson who remained sidelined. A return from suspension for Raddy left us with a starting line-up looking like this:
Gunter Morgan Chambers Lynch
Cohen McKenna McGugan Anderson
The game was lively and open from the off, although few chances fell our way despite some positive possession and pressure. The first chance of the game came after around nine minutes after Millwall sought to hit us on the break, an effort from Steve Morison was cleared by Chambers but his header only found Bouazza who headed over.
At the other end good work from Majewski found Lynch whose cross was deflected for a corner – alas, we weren’t proving much cop at corners this afternoon. Our closest to a goal so far came from a long range McGugan effort – he drove it hard and low but Forde was able to get across to touch it just wide of the post for another Reds corner.
Joel Lynch – who’d had a solid game in defence – almost became an unlikely hero, after around 25 minutes the Reds had been passing the ball around nicely and eventually Cohen chipped it toward Lynch in the area at the back stick, he chested it down well and went for the volley, which looked good from the away end but missed the target – the official site suggests it might’ve been a cross which just missed McGoldrick.
Another opportunity from a 30 yard freekick arose, McGugan struck it powerfully but it was blocked. So powerfully it appeared to spark-out Millwall defender Darren Purse for a moment! Just before half time Paul Anderson went to ground after appearing to be elbowed, Forest continued to play on and attack, once Millwall regained possession the referee stopped play – much to the chagrin of the away fans.
Can understand their point on that score really – he should have spotted the foul on Anderson, but having allowed play to continue he really should have continued to do so as the home side sought to break. Of course, I’m glad he didn’t – the largely quiet home fans did make their feelings plain as the half time whistle came and the officials left the pitch.
Which brings me to the venue – it has a certain reputation, but the New Den is a nice ground and – having not opted for the uber-secure methods of arrival (coach travel or train) I can’t say I experienced the kind of terrifying experience outside the ground I’ve heard tell of. As for Billy’s suggestion post-match that the atmosphere was intimidating – I thought it was pretty poor aside from when even correct decisions were given against them.
Anyhow, Millwall were out and lined-up waiting for the Reds, who had the best of the opening exchanges. Lynch found Raddy early doors whose shot from the edge of the area was agonisingly wide of the post. Lewis was looking threatening in spells too, one weaving run culminated in a decent shot on goal which was put out for another corner by Forde.
Just after the hour Billy started to make changes – Majewski, who looked good in spells, but not many spells, was withdrawn for Tudgay to try to give McGoldrick a little more support. After this (but probably not related) the game became a bit of a stalemate, with both defences standing firm and little attacking opportunities presenting themselves.
Forest almost unlocked the Millwall defence though when Chris Cohen spotted Gunts steaming into the area down the right – alas he opted to take a touch rather than shoot first time, although he did win us a corner! The corner, as ever in this game, didn’t quite find its’ mark.
McCleary was the next player to be introduced from the bench by Billy, taking off Paul Anderson. He nearly scored with his first touch too – a cracking ball in from Lewis found the Forest number 12 who touched it goalward only to find Forde there to make the save. Shortly after this the Millwall keeper was alert again to prevent McGugan from scoring.
Ten minutes to go and Billy replaced the hard-working McGoldrick with Earnshaw, but it was second-sub McCleary who had the next chance. A cracking run down the right saw him cut inside in the process taking the ball around three players before hitting a slightly disappointingly tame shot with his left foot which was a reasonably comfortable save for the ‘keeper. A great run, though.
Forest continued to press and were backed by decent noise from a sizeable Reds away following – Earnie put one wide from eighteen yards out, McGugan nearly found him again but he couldn’t quite get on the end of it – and finally deep into stoppage time Earnie scuffed it from the edge of the area. Somewhere in all that Joel Lynch amusingly skied it from the edge of the area too.
All in all, a good point – as Billy said – and an encouraging performance against a good side. Results elsewhere see us drop to fifth which is disappointing, but we’ve seen how quickly the league table can change. Despite limping off at the end Lynch should be okay for Tuesday, which is good given Konch isn’t – Lynch was probably our stand-out player with an excellent game.
Having just started watching The Football League Show it looks like Swansea are the ones to watch, hitting form at exactly the right time. Scott Sinclair looks to be the signing of the season for just £500k.
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