Report: Crewe 1-3 Millwall

Away result FT CRMIL

AIDEN O’Brien scored a brilliant hat-trick to fire Millwall to their second league win of the season.

O’Brien was making his first league start – and rewarded his manager Neil Harris in spectacular fashion as Crewe were dispatched 3-1 at Gresty Road.

The 21-year-old striker put the away side ahead on 21 minutes with a smart left-foot finish in the box after some neat work in the build-up by Carlos Edwards.

But Crewe levelled when Bradden Inman’s shot came off Lauri Dalla Valle to wrong-foot Jordan Archer 15 minutes later.

Crewe should have gone ahead on 56 minutes but Archer produced two brilliant point-blank saves to deny first Harry Davis and then Dalla Valle.

O’Brien got his second when he latched onto a loose ball 25 yards out and turned to arrow a rasping drive past Ben Garratt.

And he competed his hat-trick when he made space for himself in the box to drive home a left-footed effort low to Garratt’s near post on 74 minutes.

How did Millwall line up?

O’Brien was rewarded for his good recent form with a place up front alongside Steve Morison. Ed Upson and Shaun Williams replaced Ben Thompson and Jack Powell from the 2-0 defeat to Chesterfield as Harris set his side up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Upson wide on the left.

It didn’t take too long for that move to look inspired when Edwards, starting at right-back in place of the injured Shaun Cummings, started a move by playing a one-two with O’Brien before setting up Morison for a shot. Garratt managed to save but O’Brien followed up to twist his body and turn the ball into the net with his left foot.

That was the first goal scored by a Millwall striker in the league since the opening day defeat of Shrewsbury and it got even better when he lashed in from 25 yards to restore Millwall’s lead.

He said during the week if he got a chance he’d take it – and he certainly walked the walk at the ground where Harris broke the Lions’ goalscoring record.

And he completed the first hat-trick by a Millwall player since Lee Gregory scored three against Derby last season with a superb finish to give the Lions three vital points.

A clash of principles and styles

Crewe have a philosophical blueprint that was laid down by Dario Gradi and they are sticking to it.

Perhaps that ethos explains why, even at 1-0 down in the first half despite having had more possession, the Gresty Road crowd never sounded like it was going to get on the players’ backs. In fact, every positive move and every corner won was cheered enthusiastically.

Up until their equaliser they had moved the ball from side to side but hadn’t really looked like carving Millwall’s defence open. Given their approach, though, they arguably deserved the chunk of luck they got when the ball came off Dalla Valle and rolled past Archer to make it 1-1 10 minutes before the break.

Millwall were more direct, and they possibly should have gone in ahead at the break only for Morison to meekly shoot at Garratt when he had the space and time to take the ball further towards goal.

Crewe stuck at it, but O’Brien was the big difference between the sides.

Next up

So early in the season, but it still feels like such a crucial week with games against sides around them in the Sky Bet League One table. It hardly bears thinking about what a defeat here would have done to morale. And it so easily could have happened had Crewe taken those chances early in the second half.

This is a huge boost for Millwall. And it’s a huge boost that it was a striker who helped clinch the points after the Lions had gone four games without a centre-forward getting on the scoresheet.

It also preserved their unbeaten away start to the season – now to transfer that confidence to home form starting with Southend next Saturday.

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)

23 thoughts on “Report: Crewe 1-3 Millwall

  • September 12, 2015 at 17:07
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    Who was worried, 6-0 on Tuesday and we're in the play-offs.
    Get in O'Brien brilliant hat-trick.

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    • September 12, 2015 at 17:42
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      @eddielarge: all joking aside, if we get a win on tues and sat we will be in the play-off spot, strange game footy, doom and gloom in aug, on the up in sept !!

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:08
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    Well done boys. Finally we put a few past a poor side. Congrats to AOB, he is looking a threat every time he has the ball. If we get at least at point at PV and then get that all important home win against S'End who knows how high our confidence will grow? COYL

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:09
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    Now that's more like it.A win on Tues will shoot us up the table.Well done Aiden !!!

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:16
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    Well done millwall and especially well done to aiden on your hatrick today! COYL!!!

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:20
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    Had my doubts about you Aiden , let's hope this can kick start his lions career , COYL

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      • September 13, 2015 at 11:53
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        @dave666: let's hope he kicks on from here and doesn't become another Michael marks .

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          • September 13, 2015 at 12:13
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            @dave666: whatever happens he now has to be given a long run in the team like Gregory had last season.

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          • September 13, 2015 at 12:21
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            @dave666: totally agree with you. It will be his first full season lets see how he goes. I hope he does well if he doesn't. Sell him

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          • September 13, 2015 at 12:57
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            @dave666: trouble is if he does well we'll sell him anyway.

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          • September 13, 2015 at 13:33
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            @dave666: let's hope millwall keep our stars

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:24
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    3 things Aiden's learned today, bang, bang, bang just as promised, must be feeling great tonight - keep it up son & become a striker to be feared!

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:25
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    Keep Aiden in the team.
    Gregory has had his chance and just is not up to it.

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:25
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    Just waiting for the train back to take us home to Gods country- South London, well done Aiden, second goal a real peach, but take a bow Jordan Archer, absolute quality all game and kept us level with a point blank double save which he had no right to even get near let alone keep out the net, MOTM for me.

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:29
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    Aiden has looked everything that Gregory and Marquis are not, IMO, a threat! Great result. A goal scoring striker can hide a multitude of sins; I remember a very average southend pushing for the playoffs to the Prem when Freddie Eastwood was banging em in. Now Aiden has got on the score sheet hopefully it will be the catalyst for him to push on. Happy with AOB and Moro but still think we could do with a decent loan signing up front in case of injuries. As I've said numerous times on here, Gregory and Marquis, for me, are not good enough. I think Gregory should be loaned out to League 2 to get some games and hopefully find his feet.

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  • September 12, 2015 at 17:34
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    Team reboot is budding. No one should complain if this is "only" a mid-table season, because for the first time since Stevens/McClearence we're developing and using youth!!

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  • September 12, 2015 at 18:28
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    WELL DONE Neil Harris, you got everything right today great result good performance you seem to have the boys playing keep it going m8ty. PLEASED FOR YOU MORE THAN ANYBODY ELSE .

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  • September 12, 2015 at 19:46
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    Fantastic day well done AOB and JA outstanding, team game well done all carry on Tuesday

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  • September 12, 2015 at 20:26
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    well done to neil and ALL the lads.fidem habere

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