MILLWALL slipped to a second successive home defeat in the League after being beaten narrowly by high-flying Walsall.
Milan Lalkovic's goal on the half hour was enough to settle the contest on Boxing Day at The Den, a defensive error let in the striker who slotted past David Forde. Aiden O'Brien hit the crossbar in added time.
Millwall remain 11th in League One after the defeat, with Walsall climbing to the top of the division after their win in SE16.
Neil Harris made five changes to the team that were well beaten by Gillingham last week. David Forde came into the side for suspended Jordan Archer to start his first game since the defeat to Coventry on August 14.
Jimmy Abdou was back in the midfield replacing George Saville, for his first start since going off injured against Peterborough back in October.
Sid Nelson, Shane Ferguson and Fred Onyedinma also came in for Byron Webster, Lee Gregory and Ed Upson.
The opening ten minutes were a quiet affair, with neither side having an opportunity at goal. The visitors, however, were keeping possession well as the Lions looked to respond after last week’s defeat.
The saddlers have a couple of chances from distance that flew well over a returning Forde’s goal frame.
James O’Conner had Walsall’s the game’s first effort on target when his header from a Sawyers corner was headed straight into the arms of Forde.
Seven minutes later the Lions had the first of two good opportunities to break the deadlock.
Shaun Williams sent in a low flat corner that fell to Morison at the near post, and the striker tries to back-heel the ball towards goal, but the connection saw the ball sneak wide of the left upright.
Morison was at the heart of another venture forward for Harris’ men as the former Welsh international almost came up trumps when chasing down a ball back to Neil Etheridge in the Walsall goal, but the visiting keeper cleared the ball just before the striker could get any closer.
Halfway through the first half came the Lions’ second glorious chance to edge into the lead against the League’s second-placed side.
Morison arrowed in a cross to Onyedinma who controlled well outside the box before jinxing his way into the box as his cross-come-shot evaded the left foot of Aiden O’Brien, but the ball would roll through to the man who started the attack in Morison, only to see a toe-poked effort go inches wide.
Millwall, however, would be made to pay for their inability to convert chances when on top.
Walsall went from back to front and while doing so, the flight of the ball caught Sid Nelson unaware as the defender let the ball bounce over his head.
As the youngster tried to make up ground to play the ball back to Forde, Milan Lalkovic showed a turn of pace to get in front of the academy graduate before cutting inside and slotting home past Forde.
In fairness, the goal was more than the visitors deserved, having been better on the ball without having the chances the Lions had prior to Walsall scoring.
After the interval The Saddlers started well, retaining the ball for spells but without really troubling the hosts.
Lalkovic has another effort on goal when he was found in space down the left, but Forde was equal to it.
With an hour gone, the Lions searched for some form and started to build up some momentum after some good spells of possession.
And they came close to restoring parity when Morison who was trying his best to help Millwall get something out of the game sent in a cross that fell to O’Brien, but the young striker’s effort was somehow saved by Etheridge.
Five minutes after, Onyedinma went on a marauding run from inside this own half, but as the winger made it into the Walsall penalty area, his touch was too loose and Adam Chambers cleared the visitors lines.
Jimmy Abdou went down in the box with three minutes remaining but referee Gavin Ward was unmoved. From that, Shaun Williams hit an effort from distance that was palmed away for a corner that was cleared.
Moments later, O’Brien came a bars width away from levelling the game.
Shane Ferguson, who had a quite game, dinked in a cross to the edge of the six-yard box, and it was found by O’Brien who rose highest only to see his header crash against the crossbar and into the arms of a fortune Etheridge.
There were six minutes of added time to be played and inside the first two Nelson almost atoned for his error.
Ferguson’s corner found the defender free having run from deep, but his bullet header was right at Etheridge who gathered on the line.
Try as they might, Millwall couldn't come up with an equaliser as Walsall head to the summit of League One, condemning the home side to a second successive home defeat against teams vying for promotion to the Championship.