WE take a look at some of the talking points after Millwall were knocked out of the League Cup by Barnet.
The Lions came back to level through Steve Morison after John Akinde had put Barnet ahead before Andy Yiadom sent the Bees through to the second round.
From Lee Gregory’s importance to the side to Millwall’s habit of going behind in games, we analyse the Lions’ latest result and what it means.
1. Gregory makes a difference
Neil Harris wanted a trimmer squad this season – and the stats show a positive correlation between the fewest number of players used per season and final league positions – but two or three injuries can quickly reveal limitations.
Harris rested Lee Gregory last night and probably would have liked to have been in the position to leave him on the bench for the entire evening.
But, with John Marquis struggling to impose himself and strike up an understanding with Steve Morison, Gregory was summoned on 66 minutes to replace his team-mate.
The former Halifax Town striker has a knack of always seeming to find himself at the centre of the action in and around the box.
He immediately unsettled the Barnet defence last night and linked well with Morison and with Fred Onyedinma and Paris Cowan-Hall.
It’s crucial Gregory stays fit if Millwall are to challenge for a top-six spot. He scored nine league goals last season after his move to the Championship from non-league football, so reaching a target of 15 this season – with Morison already on two in two games – will surely leave Millwall duking it out towards the business end of the table.
2. Archer enjoys target practice
Jordan Archer has had to bide his time for his competitive Millwall debut. He finally got his chance last night and produced several really excellent saves, as well as some truly heart-in-the-mouth moments.
It is tempting to think regular number one David Forde wouldn’t have got down to tip Luke Gambin’s 26th minute shot against the post to prevent Barnet taking a two-goal lead.
Archer also showed lightning reflexes to keep out a John Akinde shot from inside the box in the second half, again getting down smartly, this time to his right, to divert the ball around the post.
Forde, along with club captain Tony Craig, is a key player for Harris in the dressing room and is quite vocal before games.
He is also at this point a steadier presence than his understudy.
Twice last night Archer had Millwall fans holding their breaths. First he looked like he was going to try to take the ball around Akinde close to his own line only to be quickly closed down. He was lucky – and relieved – that the ball squirted harmlessly wide.
In extra-time he raced out of his box to clear, only to see his header go behind him to Michael Gash whose shot towards an open goal was on target but cut out by Webster.
Archer has an all-action style, cat-like reflexes and an eccentric side that could make for some interesting watching this season.
3. Space invaders
Moses Emmanuel. Lyle Taylor. Luis Machado. John Akinde.
Millwall went behind in three of their four pre-season games and have done the same in both competitive fixtures so far.
A feature of the goals scored by the players above for Bromley, AFC Wimbledon, CD Tondela and Barnet was the space those players exploited behind Millwall’s defence.
Harris wants to play a high, pressing game, but the Lions defence has been caught out with long balls over the top or passes played in the inside channels between the centre-backs and full-backs.
When teams have broken through the first line of defence in midfield they have often found time and space to play a ball in behind a high line for pacy strikers to attack the spaces between the back four and goal.
Last night, Akinde warned of the threat he posed a few minutes in when he took up a position off Byron Webster’s shoulder and with Sid Nelson slightly out position the striker worked space for a shot that went over.
A few minutes later he was able to isolate Webster and after being picked out with a ball down the inside-left channel he raced away from the defender only to be brought down in the box.
In the 102nd minute of extra-time the scenario was repeated, this time in the opposite channel but against the same opponent. Akinde had done all the hard work when Andy Yiadom arrived to finish past Archer.
On Saturday, Webster could find himself directly up against Adam Armstrong, Coventry’s quick, on-loan Newcastle forward.
He played in a left-sided role against Wigan, scoring twice in a 2-0 win.
Millwall will have to be aware of the danger he is capable of posing, especially if Coventry work space in midfield or, as against Wimbledon and Tondela, just after possession has been turned over.