MILLWALL got their first win of 2016 as a goal from Lee Gregory and captain Steve Morison’s late header gave them a 2-1 win over a plucky Oldham side.
Gregory put the away side in front in the second minute when he finished from close range, but Millwall failed to build on that lead as Oldham grew in confidence.
Mike Jones equalised when he fired a free-kick past David Forde just before the hour mark.
The Latics went close to taking the lead when Carl Winchester saw his shot from range parried away by the Lions goalkeeper.
Oldham kept pouring forward but they were sucker-punched five minutes from time when Morison stooped to head home from Shane Ferguson’s cross.
Millwall had fallen behind in six of their last nine fixtures in all competitions – and failed to rescue a win or even a draw from any of them.
In fact, they hadn’t come from behind to win since the opening day of the season against Shrewsbury. It looked like they needn't worry about that statistic when they took the lead less than two minutes in, but they just seemed to drift through the rest of the first-half after that, perhaps feeling collecting three points against a side with one league win at home before the fixture would be a formality.
Oldham were rocking and they could have conceded a second when Mark Beevers headed Jed Wallace’s corner back across goal but Gregory’s close-range effort was cleared off the line.
But the home side got back into the game as much through Millwall failing to twist the knife as their own initiative. The crowd were certainly roused as the half went on. Dominic Poleon on the left was their most dangerous player, testing Shaun Cummings with his pace and also keeping Forde alert. The keeper had to come well off his line at one point to head the ball out for a corner after the former Leeds forward had snuck in behind the away defence.
Rhys Murphy saw a shot deflected away, Jake Cassidy tried an overhead kick that didn’t come off, and then centre-back Timothee Dieng ought to have done better than to head a corner wide when he had found time and space in the box.
Neil Harris couldn’t have been happy with his side’s performance at the break and his mood would have darkened in the 59thminute when after Cummings had given away a foul on the edge of the box Jones fired his free-kick past a static Forde.
Oldham then didn’t look like a side without a league win in such a long time at Boundary Park and the momentum was firmly with them. Jonathan Forte came on to give them width on the left. Forde had to readjust his feet to tip the substitute’s cross-shot over the bar.
The home side’s confidence was underlined by their full-back’s forays into the Millwall half, with Cameron Dummigan especially prominent.
Forde hinted that Millwall were happy to settle for a point when he delayed a goal-kick and was booked.
But seconds later, totally against the run of play, Morison stole in on the blindside of the Oldham defence to nod Ferguson’s cross past Joel Coleman.
No waiting on wings for Wallace
The on-loan Wolves player went straight into the starting line-up after his move on Friday, replacing Fred Onyedinma who had been withdrawn at half-time at Barnsley last weekend. Wallace began on the right wing, and got his first touch of the ball after 60 seconds.
Perhaps trying too hard, an attempted nutmeg through the legs of Daniel Lafferty didn’t come off but he was brave to dive into his first tackle, especially considering he’s had his injury problems at Wolves.
Five seconds later he was springing down the right touchline and into space. He got his head up to spot Ferguson making a run to the back post. The Northern Ireland international's low shot was well saved by Coleman but Gregory was lurking six yards out to tuck away his 11th of the season. It was a dream start for the new boy.
Another cross moments later was too close to Coleman but Wallace looked full of confidence and was always eager to show for possession.
However, like his team, he faded as the game went on and was taken off shortly after Oldham had equalised. Any tiredness can be excused as he hadn’t played since October, but he showed enough in the opening moments to convince he could make an impact this month.
It’s been a miserable run of league form for Millwall since late November and into December. And it looked like it was carrying into the new year until Morison’s late goal.
Morison has been Millwall’s most consistent player for the last month and his work ethic merited a goal.
As at Barnsley, Forde was also crucial. His save to keep out Winchester’s second-half effort from outside the box that looked to be heading into the top corner was eye-catching and he was solid under crosses.
Byron Webster and Beevers also had to be really resolute under pressure from David Dunn's side.
It was far from pretty, but Millwall maybe deserved a break after last week when they missed a host of chances. They’ll take it and at least they won’t have any baggage heading into the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final against Oxford.
Oxford had some spies here, and won’t have seen anything to have them worrying all that much before their visit to The Den next Thursday.