FLEETWOOD ended Millwall’s nine-game unbeaten run as goals from Eggert Jonsson and Bobby Grant gave Steven Presley’s side a deserved 2-1 win at Highbury Stadium.
Millwall faced an onslaught from their hosts but survived until Jonsson gave Fleetwood the lead in the 65th minute when he headed in at the back post.
Neil Harris’ side struggled to get into the game throughout and Fleetwood doubled their lead a minute from the end when Bobby Grant’s corner drifted straight in.
Byron Webster gave Millwall some hope in injury time when he bundled in his second in two games and third of the season.
But it came much too late as Millwall fell to just their second away defeat of the season.
They had chances to score and came closest when Steve Morison’s header clipped the crossbar, but it was Fleetwood who dominated and could have won by a bigger margin.
Space and pace troubles Lions
Harris picked the same side that beat Colchester 4-1 on Saturday. That wasn’t a surprise as he continued with the attacking line-up that had scored 12 goals in three games since the 0-0 draw with Bradford.
But it was the home side who were much more attacking in the first half and but for the positioning, speed and then bravery of Jordan Archer they would have been ahead at the break.
A glimpse of how much they were on the front foot could be seen in the gradual change of left-back Amari’i Bell’s positioning. By the end of the opening 45 minutes he was operating almost as a left-sided attacker and Shaun Cummings, already overworked trying to cope with Tariqe Fosu, had another problem to solve.
And three times in the first half Archer had to come to his defence’s rescue. He stood up well to push David Henen slightly wide before blocking the shot.
He was then quickly off his line to deny the dangerous David Ball and he was fearless when he threw himself on the ball, picking up a knock in the process, after initially spilling Antoni Sarcevic’s effort from outside the box.
Fleetwood have been inconsistent this season but the way they took the game to Millwall was more like their dominance in the 4-0 win over Burton than their tameness in the 1-0 defeat at home to Chesterfield.
Still, against the run of all that play, Millwall could have gone in ahead at half-time had Morison’s brilliant looping header that came off the bar been a bit lower.
Pattern repeated in second period
Millwall flickered to life at the start of the second half, but Fleetwood were back into their stride after 50 minutes and when the goal came it had looked inevitable for most of the evening.
They were playing at a much higher tempo than their visitors and moving the ball much more swiftly.
They just seemed much fresher than Harris’ side.
Shaun Williams did come close when he whistled a shot over from the edge of the area, but Fleetwood mounted a sustained spell of pressure and Webster produced two superb clearing headers before Archer had to stretch and tip Jonsson’s snap shot over the bar.
The reprieve was short-lived, though, and when Fosu scorched a cross to the back post Jonsson stooped to head in.
The movement of the front three was a problem all evening for Millwall and Harris was urging his defence to push up when the ball was deep in the Fleetwood half. That was a rarity, however, and the hesitancy in the back four was understandable given the obvious threat of leaving space in behind.
Unusually also for Archer, when he had the chance to launch a counterattack his kick-outs invariably drifted way too far for his front two to make anything of them.
Millwall switch to all-out attack
After being so impressive recently an abrupt low followed for Shane Ferguson and George Saville, both of whom were taken off.
It was rough on Saville in front of watching Wolves boss Kenny Jackett and it seemed cruel on Ferguson that Michael O’Neill was present a game too late.
Harris brought on Fred Onyedinma and stationed Aiden O’Brien behind Morison with Lee Gregory moving wide but it didn’t really result in any more attacking cohesion and only meant Fleetwood posed more of a threat on the break.
It never really looked like the Lions’ night and Pressley’s side sealed it late on when Grant’s corner flew into Archer’s net.
Millwall halved the deficit in added time but they never did enough to suggest they would get anything from the game.