MILLWALL slumped to defeat to Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium, their fourth straight loss in League One.
The result leaves the Lions 19th in the table, only outside the relegation zone on goal difference after going down 2-1 in the Midlands on Saturday afternoon.
Millwall manager Neil Harris made two changes to the side that lost to Port Vale on Tuesday night. Shaun Williams came in for Calum Butcher with Fred Onyedinma replacing David Worrall, whose partner was due to give birth on the eve of the fixture.
There was a call-up to the bench for youngster Kris Twardek with Jamie Philpot also returning to the matchday squad.
The visitors started brightly, winning two successive corners, but they were unable to capitalise on either of them with Walsall keeper Neil Etheridge punching the first one clear before watching the second go out for a goal-kick.
On 14 minutes Millwall had the first effort of the match. After Onyedinma had been fouled on halfway, Williams tried an audacious effort that hit the woodwork with Etheridge caught off his line. The Lions fans that travelled north thought the ball had crossed the line but it bounced clear to spare the host’s blushes.
Walsall took the lead with their first real attack in the 17th minute. A ball in from the left-hand side found Franck Moussa who headed into Simeon Jackson’s path in the six-yard box and the former Millwall striker smashed home to put the Saddlers in front.
The host’s lead only lasted five minutes before Millwall restored parity. Shane Ferguson’s cross was cleared only to Mahlon Romeo on the edge of the box. The young right-back put the ball back into the box to find Onyedinma, whose thumping header beat Etheridge.
Both sides had claims for a penalty on the half hour. First, Erhun Oztumer’s arrowed ball to Jackson appeared to hit the hand of Lions defender Byron Webster, but referee Lee Probert was unmoved.
At the other end, Steve Morison was played in by Lee Gregory before going down in the box, but he was swiftly told to get up by the official.
Webster headed just wide form a Ferguson cross on 38 minutes after a Millwall corner had been cleared to Williams.
Five minutes before the break Jordan Archer was called into action with a double save, first palming Jackson’s effort into the path of Kieron Morris whose shot was then smothered by the Lions stopper.
Barely four minutes into the second half Walsall took the lead again. A ball in from the right was glanced towards goal by Jackson. Archer saved but he could only palm the ball into Moussa’s path for the striker to tap home from three yards.
Gregory was through on goal five minutes later but Etheridge got a hand to the ball to divert the Lions forward’s run, before the goalkeeper tipped Williams’ stinging effort over.
Millwall were still searching for an equaliser on 86 minutes when Jimmy Abdou won possession of the ball inside the Walsall box after some dithering from Kevin Toner, but his cross was deflected out for a corner that Morison headed just wide at the near post.
Minutes later, Gregory headed wide after Romeo had floated a ball onto the striker’s head.
The Lions were beginning to put some pressure on the host’s backline after a mediocre second-half display up until that point.
Harris made two substitutions in an effort to halt Millwall’s losing run, bringing on Ben Thompson for Abdou before Gregg Wylde came on to replace Joe Martin with nine minutes left.
Gregory came close to levelling with a wonderful curling effort from the edge of the box that went agonisingly wide.
But Walsall saw out the game to keep Millwall winless in the league since August 27 and leave them hovering just above the division’s bottom three.
Image source: ©Millwall FC