Report: Millwall 3-0 Peterborough

NAD Report Scores
MILLWALL moved into a season high position of fifth in the Sky Bet League One table with a comprehensive win over Peterborough at The Den on Saturday afternoon.

Neil Harris had called for a response from his players and the fans after the defeat to Scunthorpe on Tuesday, and he got it as the Lions went above Coventry in the table.

Steve Morison put Millwall ahead in the 30th minute, before Lee Gregory got his 20th of the season when he headed home Mark Beevers’ flick-on from Shane Ferguson’s free-kick.

And Morison put the result beyond doubt when he rose to flash home Ferguson’s corner in the 62nd minute.

Backs to the ‘Wall

At the time of kick-off the number of people who had signed a petition to prevent land outside The Den being sold to a private developer was approaching 18,000.

But if what happened on Wednesday night at Lewisham Town Hall was an example of the effectiveness of Millwall fan power to protect interests on grounds outside The Den, aiding the team in turning around their form inside the stadium has proved trickier.

In his message to fans, Harris wrote in his programme notes that “if we can tip the balance in our favour between now and the end of the season who knows what we can achieve together”. In fact, before this fixture, all Millwall needed to do was maintain the current balance and current points/games ratio to finish on 74 – which would have been enough for a play-off place in League One last season.

Two seasons ago Peterborough managed to finish sixth despite losing 18 games, but it’s unlikely the Lions can afford that many. They never looked like falling to a 12th of the season here.

Whether Millwall fans took their cue from their manager or not the atmosphere was certainly much more raucous much earlier in this contest.

Even before Morison and Gregory had Millwall 2-0 up shortly after half-time the home supporters were doing their bit to ensure there could be no excuses no matter what the outcome. And you could certainly see what Harris meant when he said his players only seem to play with freedom once they’re ahead, with Jed Wallace and Shane Ferguson epitomising it by connecting on the left, the latter firing the ball straight at Ben Alnwick after Wallace had set him up.

Morison made it three to decorate the perfect response after the Iron loss, and if Millwall can find the  key to keeping their composure when a breakthrough doesn’t come so early then a top-six place should be assured.

Beevers back – and almost scores spectacular OG

Harris had called for that backing from fans – but he would have had his heart in his mouth at the chance and the save that drew the first big cheer of the afternoon. Peterborough almost went in front in bizarre circumstances, Beevers miscuing a back-pass that Jordan Archer had to backpedal to meet with his head and divert over the bar. A couple of moments later the keeper had the ball at his feet ready to take a free-kick and most of the crowd rose to acclaim him. He’s a big favourite here.

Beevers had been restored to the starting XI ahead of Sid Nelson who dropped to the bench, and the more experienced centre-back had a hand in setting up Millwall’s best chance before they went ahead. Gregory would set up Morison later but he must have wondered how he shot over from a couple of yards after Morison had headed Beevers' flick back across goal.

Gregory atoned for that miss in the 30th minute – but only after another one when Ferguson threaded a ball through to him only for Alnwick to rush off his line to save. The ball broke fortuitously and Gregory kept his composure to lift a cross to the back post that Morison headed in to join Aiden O’Brien on 11 goals this season.

Morison had been involved in a minor kerfuffle with Ricardo Santos – that was the kind of spikiness that had been absent against Scunthorpe.

Peterborough had started confidently, with right-back Michael Smith deployed in an advanced position on the right when his team had the ball. It was from his run infield that the Posh created a half-chance, but Archer was behind Jon Taylor’s low shot and pushed the ball out for a corner. Souleymane Coulibaly also had the ball in the net in the opening period but the linesman’s flag had gone up after Erhun Oztumer had flicked the ball on.

Once Gregory had put the Lions two goals ahead and Morison made it three when he powered in Ferguson’s corner, Peterborough were a shadow of the side that had won 5-3 at the ABAX Stadium in October when they looked such a dangerous attacking unit.

Millwall missed out on the chance to go fifth on Tuesday, but after a tricky start on Saturday afternoon they never appeared in the mood to relinquish another opportunity.

Man of the match

He often toils and does a lot of the unseen work without the reward of a goal – how many times has he cleared away corners this season at the front post? – but Morison more than deserved his two finishes against the Posh.

Morison now has 12 for the season, and he will hardly care that he was denied a hat-trick when Harris took him off with just under 20 minutes left to give John Marquis a longer period in which to impress.

Harris will be just as pleased with Ben Thompson, who summed up his performance with a crunching tackle late on to stop a breakaway.

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)