Report: Millwall 1-1 Bradford


MILLWALL came from behind to claim a point against Bradford at The Den on Saturday afternoon.

Bradford took the lead in the 42nd minute when Byron Webster tried to clear Mark Marshall’s cross but instead found the back of his own net.

Earlier, Jordan Archer was at full stretch to keep out Nicky Law’s effort before Shaun Williams saw a looping header clawed over the bar by Colin Doyle in first-half added-time.

Joe Martin made it 1-1 four minutes after half-time when he beat Doyle with a low shot from outside the box.

Stephen Darby produced a brilliant block to deny substitute Fred Onyedinma with 10 minutes left, before Millwall escaped with a point when Law hit the post in the last minute.

Lions boss Neil Harris can be happy that his side made it three league games unbeaten since the defeat to Peterborough.

Bradford, meanwhile, haven't lost in the league since the 3-1 defeat to Millwall in the first leg of the play-off semi-final in May.

This was the fifth meeting of the sides in less than a year, though you could hardly say it was case of familiarity breeding contempt: There were only eight of the 22 that started the second leg of that semi-final tie in the starting line-ups on Saturday.

The Lions’ injury problems – Lee Gregory wasn’t in the squad – meant there was a place on the first-team matchday bench for the first time for Harry Smith, who scored two goals in his last two games for Millwall U23s.

Bradford had six summer signings in their side, with one of them, midfielder Romain Vincelot, continuing in his less natural position in the centre of defence.

It wasn't long before Vincelot had attracted the derision of the home fans who thought he had made more Steve Morison's tackle, but it was another summer recruit who was at the hub of Bradford’s passing game, a different philosophy to the more robust style under Phil Parkinson last season.

Nicky Law, signed from Rangers, started as the more advanced of Bradford’s three midfielders, a system that allowed wingers Jordy Hiwula and Marshall to stay wide and test Martin and Mahlon Romeo.

Martin was back in the side after going off against Chesterfield last weekend with a shoulder injury, but he just didn’t seem at his sharpest, a feeling illustrated when he picked up a booking for clipping Marshall late after the winger had flicked the ball around him. Harris said afterwards Martin put his hand up for selection despite the pain in his shoulder.

Bradford dominated possession in the first half but Millwall had their chances. Morison tried to lob Doyle from 45 yards but the goalkeeper – signed for a pound from Blackpool in the summer – was close enough to his line to make the save.

Moments later Gregg Wylde, on his full league debut, skipped past a challenge before pulling the ball back to Ben Thompson making a late run into the box. The midfielder hesitated when maybe he could have shot first time, but it was still a brilliant sliding block from James Meredith that prevented Doyle from being tested.

Bradford took the lead three minutes before the break. After Morison thought his header from Thompson’s cross had struck a Bantams hand, the away side broke and when Marshall slid a low cross out of the reach of Archer, Webster got his feet in a muddle to divert the ball into the net from a yard out.

Millwall almost equalised at the end of the half, but Doyle stretched just high enough to tip Williams’ header onto the roof of the net.

The home side almost levelled a minute after the break but after Doyle had punched clear under pressure on his line, a combination of the goalkeeper and Darby kept out Wylde’s drive from six yards.

Doyle was eventually beaten in the 49th minute. It looked like Vincelot had cleared the danger when he headed away, but the ball fell to Martin and he lashed home a right-footed shot from 22 yards, his fourth goal for the club.

Millwall were forcing their opponents deeper in their own half as the second period went on and after Morison and Aiden O’Brien had linked up on the left Meredith headed away at the back post with David Worrall lining up a volley.

With 10 minutes remaining, Onyedinma, who had come on for Wylde, raced into the box but Darby did brilliantly to get across from right-back to make the block.

A measure of Millwall’s dominance at that stage was the now peripheral role of Law, but Bradford still showed signs of danger even if Marshall’s radar was off when he shot well wide from 25 yards.

And Law almost won it for Bradford with the last attack of the game, but Archer produced a fingertip save and then claimed the ball after it had rebounded off the post.

John Kelly