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Report: Scunthorpe 2-3 Millwall

MILLWALL scored three times in 13 minutes either side of half-time as they came from behind at Glanford Park to reach the League One play-off final for the second year in a row.

Ivan Toney put Scunthorpe ahead and in command of the tie in the 19th minute when he tapped home from close range following Josh Morris’ corner from the right.

Morris almost made it two in the 45th minute when he flashed a shot across goal, before Steve Morison headed Millwall level moments later, the first time they had scored here in three visits under Neil Harris.

Two minutes into the second half Millwall almost went in front, but Morison couldn’t keep his low shot on target after Jimmy Abdou had challenged for Jed Wallace’s cross.

Midfielder Jamie Ness then tested Jordan Archer with a long-range shot, before Lee Gregory headed home Morison’s cross to the back post to put the Lions ahead.

Millwall went two goals clear in the 58th minute when Morison fired low past Joe Anyon. It was in front of the Millwall end, prompting a number of fans to come onto the pitch, with Lions players urging them to return to the stand.

Scunthorpe right-back Jordan Clarke cleared Aiden O’Brien’s effort off the line, before Graham Alexander brought on Duane Holmes and Harris reacted by sending on Shane Ferguson.

Morris had an excellent chance to reduce Millwall’s lead with 20 minutes left but he scuffed his shot wide from six yards after Toney had set him up with a low cross.

With eight minutes left, though, Stephen Dawson gave his side hope when he beat Archer with a fizzing low drive from 30 yards.

The stadium rose in added-time as it appeared Kevin van Veen had levelled but the ball hit the outside of the net. Archer dropped the resulting corner, then Craig Davies couldn't make contact three yards out as Millwall survived and will now meet Bradford in the final.

As in the first leg, Millwall made a positive, bright start but also as at The Den Iron centre-backs David Mirfin and Murray Wallace repelled everything that came near them.

The pair constantly operate on the edge of what’s legal, doing just enough to obstruct, block, tug a jersey…but not enough for a referee to either see it or punish it.

The frustration Morison and Gregory felt was very evident. At one point in the first half Mirfin moved into the way to force Gregory to arc around him. Wallace was there covering, and Gregory pushed him into the advertising hoardings to earn a rebuke from referee Christopher Kavanagh.

Scunthorpe were already a goal up at that stage, Toney – whose antics in hitting the ground at any hint of contact annoyed the visitors and provoked Lions fans into letting him know what they thought with some colourful language – scoring his seventh goal since joining the club on loan from Newcastle in January.

Millwall had been finding it a little easier to create chances than they had on Thursday. Mirfin slid in to block O’Brien’s shot, Morison volleyed over from 10 yards, and then Anyon saved Tony Craig’s header.

Two minutes before the break Jordan Archer dived low to save Wallace’s header and then Morris threatened a second.

Ironically Millwall’s equaliser came after Morison had suggested to Kavanagh that Wallace had flailed an elbow into his head. Millwall pressed and panicked Neal Bishop into giving away the ball in the box. It broke to Craig, Morison peeled away to back post, the skipper picked out the vice-captain, who climbed above Conor Townsend to score his 17th of the season. It was the perfect riposte to the robust nature of the Iron’s play, and it came at a perfect time.

Before the break there was still time for Craig to clip another cross to the near post, but Gregory headed straight at Anyon.

Gregory made sure he took the next chance that came to him seven minutes into the second half. It was brilliant work from first Archer to deliver a long clearance to Morison, who superbly flicked the ball over centre-back Wallace before having the poise to pick out Gregory with a delicately lobbed cross. It was Gregory’s 18th goal of the season.

Incredibly, Morison joined him on 18 six minutes later. It initially looked like Scunthorpe had snuffed out the danger as O’Brien skipped into the box, but the ball broke to Gregory whose shot was deflected to Morison and he found the corner with his left foot.

It was so different now from the first half, with Morison and Gregory making it uncomfortable for Mirfin and Wallace by making wide-angled runs. Morison even tried a lob from 45 yards but Anyon was comfortably behind it. Alexander replaced Townsend with Davies as Scunthorpe switched to three at the back and three up front.

But now it was Byron Webster and Shaun Hutchinson in the way of everything, as the Iron were forced to go quickly from back to front. They got their reward when Dawson’s accurate drive found the bottom corner.

There were six minutes added on, Jimmy Abdou and Ferguson threw themselves at desperate Scunthorpe attempts on goal, and despite the late scares Millwall survived to reach Wembley.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)