Report: Millwall 3-0 Blackpool

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MILLWALL scored twice in the first half and once after the break to boost their play-off hopes and deepen Blackpool’s relegation worries.

The Lions were always comfortable and goals from Lee Gregory, Jed Wallace and a Steve Morison penalty moved them onto 58 points, six ahead of Coventry in seventh place.

Millwall took the lead in the eighth minute when Gregory headed in Carlos Edwards’ throw.

The home side doubled their advantage when Wallace fired a free-kick directly into the bottom corner from 25 yards for his first goal for the club.

Morison was inches away from making it 3-0 in the 70th minute, but after curling a left-footed effort around Colin Doyle from 20 yards watched as the ball bounced back off the post.

Brad Potts came close to reducing Millwall’s lead but fired one effort wide before Jordan Archer touched his half-volley over the bar in the 74th minute.

Two minutes later Blackpool were reduced to 10 men when Hayden White received a second yellow card after fouling Shane Ferguson just outside the box.

And Morison made sure of the points when he sent Doyle the wrong way from the penalty spot after Tom Aldred had handled the ball.

Millwall overwhelm their opponents as Wallace opens his account

As they had against Doncaster, Millwall went ahead inside ten minutes. It was such a straightforward goal and perfectly illustrated the disorganisation in Blackpool’s defence that would be apparent throughout the first half. Edwards took a throw that the away defence allowed to bounce and Gregory scored perhaps the easiest goal of his 21 this season.

Soon after that, after Blackpool had worked the ball clear, centre-back Aldred urged White to push up quickly to align the back four. But he got no response. Next, Potts turned to indicate to goalkeeper Doyle that a long clearance straight to Archer was of no use.

When Millwall went two goals up in the 24th minute, it would only have given Neil MacDonald more worries about how to correct that defensive raggedness.

Moments before, Danny Philliskirk had the chance to shoot outside Millwall’s box but delayed and the home side countered. Edwards, in for the suspended Joe Martin, scampered forward and across Blackpool’s box before he was fouled. It was a good position for Wallace but Doyle would have wondered why his wall split to allow Wallace find the bottom corner.

There were some signs of attacking life in Blackpool, at least. Mark Beevers had to make a last-ditch block as Uche Ikpeazu was about to shoot in the box, while a better touch from Jim McAlister might have allowed him to test Archer.

Blackpool were marginally better in the second period, but they never looked like getting anything from a rampant Millwall.

Abdou provides defensive platform and energy

There have been more eye-catching performers this season, but then Abdou’s game isn’t about that.

There was a five-minute cameo in the second half that illustrated his value to the side: He covered two movements forward by Blackpool midfielder Potts before joining an attack and then sprinting 70 yards back to provide cover in front of his back four. Next he tracked substitute full-back Emmerson Boyce’s run forward to win back possession.

Abdou was crucial to Millwall’s game plan against Wigan on Tuesday night, working with Ben Thompson and his strikers to stop the opposition at source.

Here he was always looking to get on the front foot to ensure Blackpool’s under pressure midfield had no break.

Beside him Thompson was at his combative best. The way he got to his feet after taking a kick to the head from Mark Cullen in the second half nicely summed up what makes him such a big favourite here.

March-ing on?

This was the second game of a crucial month that will shape Millwall’s season.

The Lions just couldn’t afford to slip up on Saturday with a group of clubs clogging up the table behind Wigan and Burton, and a disorderly queue forming outside the top six. It really is a manic scramble.

They didn’t falter and, while automatic promotion still looks a tall order with the leading two showing few signs they are about to suffer slumps, it would take a big loss of form for Millwall to drop out of the top six. That doesn't look likely at the moment.

At the final whistle the fans warmly applauded the side off the pitch. The presence of Aiden O'Brien and Jamie Philpot up front demonstrated the strength of the rebuilding work this season. That was always the aim, but there is so much to play for now.

John Kelly