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Five things we learned from Millwall 2-0 Leeds United

© Edmund Boyden
© Edmund Boyden

#1: Scott McDonald can be a midfield star

Despite admitting in the build up to the new season that he is still adjusting to his new position, Scott McDonald looked at home at the tip of Millwall's midfield.

In many ways it's no surprise given that the Australian's best attributes are his close control and direct running style, but he exceeded expectations with his performance against Leeds.

At times McDonald needed to release a pass earlier than he did, but his ability to drop a shoulder and jink past a defender created countless attacking situations.

With time, he'll only get better in what are still slightly alien surroundings for the striker.

Having struggled for form in his first season with the club, McDonald says he intends to seize a "fresh start" with both hands in 2014-15.

And on Saturday's showing, you wouldn't bet against the 30-year-old featuring much more prominently for the Lions over the coming months.

#2: Alan Dunne has picked up from where he left off

48 hours after being confirmed as Millwall's new captain, Alan Dunne led by example at the heart of defence.

And his resolute display represented a continuation of his fine form from the end of last season.

Dunne has not put a foot wrong since being converted to a centre back and he deserves huge credit for establishing himself as a key figure in Ian Holloway's plans for the future.

On Saturday, the 31-year-old made a vital goal-line clearance at 1-0 to keep out Noel Hunt's shot and prevent Leeds from gaining the upper hand.

And his calmness under pressure got the Lions out of several tight spots: facing his own goal, Dunne's back passes to David Forde were flawless.

But Dunne was no-nonsense when he needed to be – and could even have scored with a first-half header. A fantastic all-round display.

His partnership with Mark Beevers continues to bode well.

#3: 4-1-4-1 and long diagonal passes

Holloway has had a full pre-season to work on Millwall's tactics and structure, and he's clearly made the most of that time.

Millwall weren't at their flowing best and faded slightly in the second half but they were an effective and well-organised unit throughout.

The Lions lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation which shifted to 4-3-3 when they were on the attack. In this system, Shaun Williams and the two full backs have crucial roles to play.

When Holloway's side had the ball in their own half, Williams would drop deep, almost to become a third centre back, to keep possession ticking over.

The approach was patient – but after drawing Leeds onto them, Millwall hit quick diagonal passes to the opposite flank to create space and launch attacks.

Full backs Scott Malone and Carlos Edwards were pinging cross-field passes to each other all afternoon – and Williams was always willing to receive the ball and switch the play.

It's a smart, fluid system – and will become more polished with practice.

#4: Lee Martin ran himself into the ground

Lee Martin took defending from the front to a new level with his performance.

Martin was closing down the Leeds back four at every opportunity, forcing mistakes and winning the ball back high up the field.

After the game, visiting manager David Hockaday compared his side to rabbits in the headlights and admitted they had panicked in response to Millwall's pressing game.

Martyn Woolford was equally hard-working on the opposite flank and helped to pen the Whites inside their own half.

#5: Worst Leeds side at The Den in years

As good as Millwall were, Leeds were really, really bad.

They were passing sideways for the whole of the first half and it didn't take long for the first boos to ring out from the 2,000 fans in the away end.

Their three-man midfield of Luke Murphy, Rodolph Austin and Michael Tonge was non-existent and striker Souleymane Doukara barely troubled the back four.

Leeds improved once Matt Smith came on – you could see why Holloway remains keen on signing the big striker, who was given little to no service up front.

But overall, the visitors were woeful and it's hard to see Hockaday lasting the season.

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

24 thoughts on “Five things we learned from Millwall 2-0 Leeds United

  • August 10, 2014 at 13:12
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    I think scott mcdonald will be a very crucial player this season. He definitely showed the quality on saturday. Everyone played really well especially the back four and williams. We look like a really solid side and if we can keep this momentum abd keep working hard, who knows where we could end up. Well done all the players and ollie for a fantastic win. Keep it up! COYL!!

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  • August 10, 2014 at 13:15
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    I don't know about 5 things but I had another fantastic day in South East London again yesterday.
    I know lots of you have moved out and some slate the area now but I still f****** love it and dont intend moving out anytime soon.
    Thorughly desrved the 2-0 victory. Leeds were not great but we did not really allow them to play and it was comfortable to say the least.
    Everyone put a shift in and I am struggling to choose my man of the match as there were too many good individual performances and not one stand out player for me.
    I really enjoyed watching the possession football and keeping it on the deck.
    I didn't think that taking Woolford off for Easter was a good move. I am not a fan of playing players out of position. A strikers role is a mile away from a wingers role.
    I have a sneaky feeling that the French lad is going to be mustard excuse the pun although I think he may well be a better striker than a winger.
    I thought that Fuller was on the pitch for for 15 minutes too long and surprisingly for me he does not dominate in the air like I thought he would. He put in a good shift though and will be a decent squad player for us.
    I was really happy to see Gregory. Shame about that first touch but still stayed composed after and won the pen. He looks like he has a football brain and I am excited about his Millwall future.
    Well done to Captian Dunne.
    Great atmosphere too. I do not personally sing certain songs but that's my own choice as is also the choice of anyone else to sing whatever they want.
    Well done Holloway. You are really starting to build something and if you stay long enough it may just be something very special.
    Roll on next Saturday and my trip to Fulham. I will be hoping to return to wonderful SE London with another 3 points.

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    • August 10, 2014 at 21:16
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      @wall2wall: Great post mate agree with pretty much all of it was very surprised with Fullers pace he was very quick Abdou passed it to one of his own players on a regular basis Dunney proved why he should be captain and every player gave it their all and the atmosphere was fantastic. Love the bloke but wish Ollie never said anything about the banter though just fuels the fire for all the bxstards who like to cxxt us off we've said and heard worse without any grief.COYL

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  • August 10, 2014 at 13:25
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    On that performance we can beat Fulham they looked weak at Ipswich with only a couple of youngsters standing out for them. Patrick Roberts is one to watch. COYL.

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  • August 10, 2014 at 13:54
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    Other than a couple of minor slip ups, I don't think Jimmy Abdou is getting enough, if any, credit whatsoever. I think he held the mid well and managed to pick up the ball when we lost it. Malone played well, and I would have liked to have seen Edwards playing that ball off a lot sooner to Gueye who managed to make some brilliant runs into space but just wasn't getting the passes from Carlos. You could see Gueye seemed to come across as lazy more so near the end but the poor sod had made about 4/5 decent runs for absolutely nothing. Fuller held it well up front but we do need someone finishing to link up from him. Gregory looks like he might just be that man as his determination for the ball at times reminded me of good ole Harris. Wether Ollie will compromise his 4-1-4-1 formation to facilitate that though is another thing.

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    • August 10, 2014 at 14:44
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      @Ashdotman: a Jimmy was our worst player by a long way. Continually got caught in possession, great energy gives 100 % but it's not enough any more. He won't keep his place once Bailey ,Upson and who knows maybe even when Chaplow us fit.

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      • August 10, 2014 at 18:05
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        @Lincolnshire Lion: I certainly did not recognize Jimmy yesterday . He put in an amazing performance end to end winning balls and passing to one of our players 90% of the time .You should look to see how Fast he is over 15-20 yards with Quick feet he even had an odd attempt at scoring if he continues with performances like this we could have Man U Or Real Madrid come sniffing . On the home front I normally get !000-1 for Jimmy to score ,yesterday I only got 250-1 . Good for Jimmy long may he put in performances like this an unsung hero

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  • August 10, 2014 at 14:05
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    I always knew that there was something better in Scott Mcdonald and Mr Holloway has found it.....we hope , as I enjoyed watching him on saturday at his best, as for Captain Alan Dunne brilliant leadership from him and what a cool penalty from Shaun Williams to please the great noisy Millwall fans and was'nt it noisy .........good collective performance from the team, can only get better ........we hope .

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  • August 10, 2014 at 14:49
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    Thought we passed the ball well yesterday.
    Just wish Forde would release the ball a bit quicker and occasionally to the wide men rather than up the middle all the time

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  • August 10, 2014 at 16:35
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    Couldn't agree more with this, Dunne has been outstanding since he stood up in the dressing room at the end of last year & let the w****** in the team 'ave it! McDonald (who in my opinion was one of those w******) looked a different player from last years sulky, selfish striker. Maybe 'the hole' is where he will florish, lets hope so. Can someone please start "Scott McDonald scored a goal, e-i-ei-o, E-I-O E-I-O E-I-O........" the next time he scores as I'm 43 now & I'm getting too old for this s***. 🙂

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  • August 10, 2014 at 16:45
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    Yeah, I thought MCDONALD was superb throughout , looked a real quality player, DUNNIE looked really calm and assured at the back,reads the game well,good partnership with BEEVERS.

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  • August 10, 2014 at 17:25
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    McDonald will hav to do better with his passing & decision making he played well but instead of looking for the killer ball he took the easy option. Once he ads this to his game then he will be a good midfielder

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  • August 10, 2014 at 17:28
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    Just seen Wood has gone to Wolves. Not upset at that, scored 4 in 26 with Leicester, if we had of signed him for a million plus with that record I think we would all question Ollie, it is only the fact he did so well last time playing in a completely different team set up and style he was ever thought to be a good idea. What sort of reaction will he get when he comes back down as you could argue he did after all keep us or will he like so many bottle it?

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    • August 10, 2014 at 18:04
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      @lennie the lion: he'll play I recon, he's going to get some tho, trouble is he's the type that will score.

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  • August 10, 2014 at 20:14
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    Lennythelion. He has taken a kick up the gonads, he was blinding for us and KJ tried to sign him. Berylson was prepared to dip into his own pocket but the cocky Kiwi thought he could do better and didn't think we were going anywhere so he signed for Bengal Rovers. That hasn't worked out for him so he is now back where he started but he has chosen a team that are bigger than us, appear to be going places and are managed by a geezer who brought the best out of him. I would love to have him back - maybe we could do a cash/player swap deal - 900k plus Fuller, the useless +@*!#

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    • August 10, 2014 at 20:31
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      @MFHC: have to disagree MFHC I think Fuller is a better option, Woods would have been an expensive gamble again considering the changes to management and team style. Great this football lark all of us watch the same game and same players and all have differing opinions, I think in America we are known as Monday Quarter backs all of whom know the answers once the game HAS been played!

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  • August 11, 2014 at 01:20
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    After seeing him on Saturday, I'm not convinced about Matt Smith. OK, he made Leeds look slightly more dangerous up front but that wasn't difficult given the very sterile attacking play they showed prior to his arrival. I doubt also if they would have given him the number 9 shirt, only to sell him on this early in the season. However, they always have Morison! - hehe!

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  • August 11, 2014 at 04:10
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    If anyone has entered the Football league fantasy Manager competition there is a mini league called "The Lions Den" password "Noonelikesus"

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    • August 12, 2014 at 20:21
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      @Profiler4: just joined my team is Palisfanzarkhunts FC

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  • August 11, 2014 at 06:04
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    I like the format of this article, certainly rings true. Dunne looked accomplished at CB yet again although Doukara did give him a rough first 20 mins

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    • August 11, 2014 at 08:07
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      @glyngo: good to see millwall boss the game only times we looked like conceding it was of our own doing.would have like us to finish them of a lot sooner..but that weren't gonna happen with fuller doing nothing .too slow

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  • August 11, 2014 at 13:54
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    One good thing is the club removing the scaffold from block 28. Felt more like a stand than a cage. Well done.

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