Report: Swindon 2-2 Millwall

NAD Report Scores

MILLWALL let a two-goal lead slip as Swindon scored in added time to rescue a 2-2 draw at the County Ground on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions looked like they would hang on for crucial three points until the 94th minute when Michael Doughty found himself free at the back post to head past Jordan Archer.

Lee Gregory put Millwall ahead in the sixth minute when he finished Jed Wallace’s cross past Lawrence Vigouroux.

Gregory missed when through on goal a few minutes later but, moments after, Steve Morison got his 15th of the season when he got beyond the Swindon defence to slot past the exposed goalkeeper.

Swindon were rocked but recovered to shade possession for the rest of the half. Yet they only threatened Archer’s goal once, with the goalkeeper easily able to keep out Nicky Ajose’s header.

Ajose was more accurate in the 63rd minute when he slammed a penalty past Archer after Carlos Edwards had fouled Raphael Rossi-Branco.

Substitute Anton Rodgers fired in a shot from 25 yards in added time that had Archer diving full length but the ball went wide of the post.

But Doughty nodded in at the death from Bradley Barry’s cross to give his side a point.

Doncaster déjà vu

Like Doncaster, Swindon started with three at the back and also looked like they hadn’t come with a plan to deal with Wallace. The Lions went two goals up within 11 minutes and looked like they would win comfortably.

But Swindon are a different side to the one that lost so meekly at The Den earlier in the season. They were patient to get a foothold in the game but a lot of their passing was in front of the opposition, or they aimed crosses or long passes that suited Byron Webster and Mark Beevers.

It wasn’t difficult to see why Swindon had won four games in a row, but it wasn’t until Rossi-Branco muscled past Edwards that they really got beyond the Lions defence.

Millwall also showed why they have been so difficult to beat away from home. Webster and Beevers was immense in the second half, directing Jimmy Abdou and Ben Thompson in front of them and patrolling the area in front of their own box where Ajose and Jonathan Obika could be so dangerous.

It looked like they’d done enough but, just like at the Keepmoat Stadium, they were denied the three points and the chance to move to within four points of the automatic promotion places.

Millwall strike early again

The first 15 minutes of this contest was like a game of backs and forwards. Millwall were two goals up but it should have been three. Gregory scored his 22nd of the season in the sixth minute but should have made it 23 when he found himself in front of goal with only Vigouroux to beat. The Swindon goalkeeper, however, made himself just big enough that Gregory couldn’t squeeze a shot inside the near post.

But Millwall, and specifically Morison, didn’t dwell on it. Swindon’s defence had barely pushed out after Gregory's miss when the Millwall captain was through again, and he finished with confidence for his fifth goal in five games.

But it was Wallace who was the outstanding performer in the opening period. His cross for Gregory’s goal was whipped in in that familiar style. He ran himself ragged, putting another couple of balls just slightly too far in front of the striker. After the second of them he was slow to get back into a covering position and Gregory showed his wiliness by going down off the ball. What initially seemed a worrying injury was revealed most likely as a clever piece of gamesmanship designed to stall Swindon momentum.

For all that there was of that, and with the Robins registering almost 60% possession in the opening half, Archer had just that one save to make when he pushed Ajose’s header away.

Ajose’s penalty in the second half gave Swindon belief, and Doughty’s late goal ensured their own revival goes on.

Next up

Now it gets intense.

Things have moved quickly since Christmas, and August seems an age ago.

That certainly seems the case when you consider the development of this side, how far they have come from the one that struggled so badly at the beginning of the season. Who thought after such an atrocious August Millwall would be six points off the top two in mid-March? Maybe only the wildly optimistic or those with the foresight to predict Gregory’s prolific return or how well the loan market has been utilised, to pick just two successes.

Given the circumstances, though, this was certainly two points dropped. The fact that Colchester held Wigan to a 3-3 draw to keep the gap to second at the same margin is some consolation.

But it still feels like a huge opportunity thrown away.

John Kelly