Report: Oxford United 1-2 Millwall

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MILLWALL came from behind to win their second successive League One game as they defeated Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.  

Steve Morison and Lee Gregory had early chances for Millwall before Liam Sercombe put Oxford in front in the 31st minute.

Morison equalised for the Lions five minutes later when he beat Simon Eastwood with a half-volley from 35 yards.

Aiden O’Brien put Millwall ahead five minutes into the second half, finding the far corner for his sixth goal of the season.

John Lundstrum could have restored parity but headed wide from a corner when he was unmarked in the box, before Fred Onyedinma was thwarted twice as Millwall threatened on the break.

Millwall boss Neil Harris brought on Joe Martin for a tiring O’Brien in the 66th minute, with Shane Ferguson shifting to the left side of midfield.

With Oxford increasingly pinning Millwall back Onyedinma bravely threw himself into a tackle on Lundstram on the edge of the box as the midfielder was about to shoot.

Oxford went even closer when substitute Tyler Roberts saw a shot deflected onto the crossbar, before the home fans wanted a penalty when it appeared a cross from the same player struck a Millwall hand in the box.

Millwall introduced Calum Butcher and Jimmy Abdou for Gregory and Ben Thompson to add further defensive protection in front of the back four.

But Oxford should have levelled when centre-back Curtis Nelson found himself free in front of goal only to plant his header straight at Jordan Archer.

The result meant the Lions moved up to 10th place in the table, just two points off the play-off places before the day’s later kick-offs. It was also their fourth win in five games in all competitions.

The contest was even until two goals of contrasting origins within five minutes of each other just past the half-hour mark.

Morison had drawn jeers from the home fans with one first-half effort from distance that was way off target, but he silenced them with a sumptuous strike that caught out Eastwood. It was his ninth goal of the season.

Five minutes before that Millwall had gone behind when Byron Webster failed to cut out a long ball down the left towards Marvin Johnson. Tony Craig then hesitated to close down the winger, allowing Johnson to thread a pass between Craig and Archer that found Sercombe at the back post for a simple tap-in.

Earlier Millwall had started brightly with Mahlon Romeo and Onyedinma again linking up on the right, but poor touches from both players often meant the final decisive pass or cross was lacking. Romeo also had to be careful after going into Roger East’s book, with Ben Thompson following him in the first half.

Millwall’s first real chance had fallen to Morison who headed over from six yards out before Gregory was off balance when he poked wide after Archer had initiated a rapid break.

A mistake from Chey Dunkley briefly looked like it would give Onyedinma the chance to run towards goal, but the young attacker needed a surer touch.

Millwall created some panic in the Oxford defence at set-pieces, but Morison couldn’t punish them when he lifted a left-footed shot over. He proved much more lethal from further out later.

In the 50th minute Romeo’s touch was better as he raced into the opposition penalty area. The full-back may have been trying to pick out Gregory’s run to the near post, but the ball went behind the striker. As he often does, O’Brien was tracking the attack from his wing position, and he took a touch before firing home a composed finish. It was O’Brien’s fourth goal in his last six games.

Onyedinma had two chances to extend Millwall’s lead but first Joe Rothwell got back to make the block with a last-ditch tackle, and then goalkeeper Eastwood made a save low to his right.  And Onyedinma showed he was tuned in at the other end of the pitch to make an important tackle as Lundstram was lining up a shot.

Chris Maguire had moved from a central position to the right in the second half – and he even went nose to nose with Harris and his assistant Dave Livermore at one point after the Lions boss had flicked the ball away when it had gone out for a throw-in – and from another of his runs infield Oxford created an opportunity for Roberts but with Archer beaten the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar.

And Millwall had another let-off late on as Nelson couldn’t beat Archer.

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)