MILLWALL came from behind to defeat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 at The Den in their Sky Bet League One clash on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions found themselves behind at the break, but goals from Ben Thompson, Steve Morison and Lee Gregory in the second half sealed the three points.
Larnell Cole put Shreswbury ahead when he found himself free in the box to shoot past Jordan Archer.
Millwall struggled to create any chances in the first half, but with just 16 minutes gone in the second half they were 2-1 up.
First, Thompson smashed home a half-volley from 20 yards, before captain Morison headed his side in front from Chris Taylor’s corner.
Millwall were comfortable after that and Gregory finished from the spot in the 91st minute after he had been hauled down in the box.
The home side move up to fourth in the table, seven points off second-placed Burton.
Lions turn the tables
After an utterly forgettable first half, in which Cole scored the only goal, the only moment of life in the match, Millwall exploded after the break.
It was tempting to think Neil Harris dusted down the hairdryer at half-time because this was a Millwall performance that needed the cobwebs blown off it. It was difficult to think of one moment of inspiration before the break.
Harris said afterwards he was methodical at the break. At half-time, he brought on Aiden O’Brien and it certainly had the desired effect.
Thompson has always looked like he has an expert strike in him. He scored a brilliant goal against Wycombe earlier in the season, and he topped it here. Chesting down a half-clearance, Thompson sized up a strike and made perfect contact, the ball flying past Mark Halstead in the Shrewsbury goal. Thompson has been excellent defensively and in knitting the game together since cementing a place in Harris’ starting XI, but that showcased what extra he can give the side.
Four minutes later, Morison, who had been Millwall’s best player, finished from close range to give the Lions the lead. Gregory lined up his penalty and took it with extreme confidence. That finished a Shrewsbury side that briefly had hope.
This was such a crucial win. There’s a pattern to Millwall’s end of season. They’re playing teams in the bottom half of the table scrapping to avoid relegation. Shrewsbury scrapped but ended up suffering.
Colchester frustrated Millwall last week, and it seemed Shrewsbury were going to go one better this weekend without playing anywhere near as well.
Harris had expressed his annoyance at the performance last week but, in the first 45 minutes, he didn’t seem to be getting the response he was looking for. It was actually one of the most boring first halves of Millwall’s season, and the Shrews were ahead without doing a great deal to suggest they deserved it.
But it was entirely different after the break. Harris introduced O’Brien to give his side more of an attacking threat, but it was a player more renowned for his defensive work that turned the fixture. Thompson finished superbly – then front duo Morison and Gregory took over to ensure the points were in the bag.
That’s 39 goals between them this season for the pair, and they’ll need to keep up that rate if Millwall are to realise their promotion dreams.
Harris was asked afterwards about being in a season-high position of fourth, but his answer was the same as it’s always been this season – the focus is on the next fixture.
Milllwall have five matches left to secure their place in the top six. If it wasn’t for Barsnley’s absurd run – they were bottom of the table at the beginning of December – the Lions would be much more confident of prolonging their season.
Scanning over the fixtures they have left, and given their form this year, Millwall supporters will likely have to cancel any holiday plans for June – and automatic promotion is not beyond them yet.
No one can predict what this kind of pressure does to the mind, but Harris has been consistent in his emphasis on their approach. It’s all about the next fixture.
That’s against Coventry, and Millwall will go into that fixture with much more confidence than when they lost 4-0 to the Sky Blues in August.