MILLWALL kept a fourth straight clean sheet at home to make it six games unbeaten after a tight, tense encounter with Bradford at The Den.
Shaun Williams had the Lions’ best chance in the second half but Bantams goalkeeper Ben Williams reacted brilliantly to tip the midfielder’s effort from 10 yards over the bar.
Bradford could have gone in front in the first period after some hesitancy in the Millwall box gave Devante Cole a chance but he shot over Jordan Archer’s crossbar.
The away side shaded the opening 45 minutes in a physical contest between two evenly matched sides.
But Millwall imposed themselves much better after the break, without creating any real clear-cut chances apart from Williams’ shot.
Neil Harris introduced Fred Onyedinma in an attempt to break the deadlock but both defences were generally on top and restricted shooting opportunities.
Harris will be pleased with the endeavour of his side, but he was handed another injury headache when Tony Craig had to be helped from the pitch after a challenge on James Hanson.
The big striker constantly sought to isolate Craig and Carlos Edwards and get flick-ons towards Kyel Reid or knockdowns for his central midfielders.
Reid had Edwards in trouble a couple of times in the first half, but the 37 year-old showed a real flash of pace when he raced from his own half past a couple of challengers to shoot over. He has remarkable energy levels.
Hanson turned down a move to Millwall in the summer and you could see why Harris had targeted him. Bradford's defenders targeted him as well a number of times in the opening period with long balls and, but for a better touch towards the end of the first half when he didn’t quite set himself up ideally for a shot, he might have worked Archer rather than seeing his effort deflected wide.
Bradford had clearly been warned by their manager about the need to stick close to Steve Morison and Lee Gregory and Morison in particular was getting little change from Rory McArdle as Millwall attempted to engineer crossing opportunities.
Hanson was less of an attacking threat in the second half as Millwall pressed forward in search of a goal
From the opening stages these sides looked really well matched. Eight of Bradford’s starters were over six foot tall, matching the number in Millwall’s side.
Morison owned the attacking air space in the last two league home games but it was altogether a different story here.
The Bantams also denied their opponents space on the flanks, with Shane Ferguson not as prominent as he had been against Doncaster last Tuesday night.
Bradford’s two midfielders, Lee Evans – like George Saville, on loan from Wolves – and Gary Liddle were also disciplined to force their direct opponents to look sideways when they attempted to pass forward.
The second half was like a boxing bout with Millwall slowly turning the screw on their opponents to seemingly have them on the ropes before Bradford would rally and remind Harris’ side to maintain vigilance at the back.
More injury woe
You could almost feel the impact of Craig’s block on Hanson that left the centre-back crumpled on the edge of his own box.
After physio Bobby Bacic came on to treat him it was quite quickly evident he’d have to go off, and the way he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg is a real worry.
He and Mark Beevers have formed a solid partnership in the centre of a Millwall defence that has looked much more secure in recent weeks.
Byron Webster came on and while he and Beevers performed well when Millwall initially turned around their form in September, Craig’s leadership cannot be replaced.