JOE Martin put himself forward for selection for Millwall’s fixture with Bradford on Saturday despite not training until Thursday and needing painkillers for a muscle problem in his shoulder.
Martin went off in the first half against Chesterfield the previous weekend and with Millwall missing a number of players through injury and those on international duty, he was determined to make himself available to Lions boss Neil Harris.
“I took a knock last week on my shoulder, just landed on it awkwardly,” Martin explained. “I didn’t train much but by Thursday I was ready to do a bit of running, I took a bit of paracetamol and I was fine.
“We were a little bit light on bodies. It was a tough game but we have been playing well at home so I wanted to, if I could, make myself available. In the end it worked out alright and the shoulder felt fine.
“On a few occasions it felt sore but you never go into many games without something.”
Millwall went behind against the Bantams in the 42nd minute when Byron Webster scored an own goal, but four minutes after the break Martin picked up a loose ball outside the box before beating goalkeeper Colin Doyle with a low drive.
Martin said: “I think that’s my fourth goal for Millwall and three have been with my right foot. I try to do the same thing when the ball comes into the box, get on the edge of the box try to nick a goal and luckily the ball fell perfectly and I took it sweetly with the right foot and it went in.”
The Lions looked to be in trouble against their opponents in the first half, with Bradford playing a different style of football under Stuart McCall to the more direct approach employed last season by Phil Parkinson.
With Nicky Law dictating the tempo of the game from an advanced midfield position, Millwall’s 11-game unbeaten run at home in League One looked under threat.
The Lions also hadn’t lost against Bradford in eight games at The Den in all competitions and Harris’ players eventually disrupted their opponents’ rhythm to dominate after the break.
But Martin admitted it wasn’t easy for Millwall to swing the momentum their way.
“You can watch it on the video but until you actually play against them, they have a lot of movement, a lot of passing, a good bit of pace about them,” Martin said.
“But we got to grips with it and imposed ourselves on the game and for pretty much the whole of the second half I thought we were the better team.
“They showed in the first half they’re a decent team, slightly different to what they were last year.
“At half-time the gaffer told us we’ve got to set the tempo, and once we do that the fans get on our side and it’s very difficult for the other team to get out once we keep them pinned in, which we did for a lot of the game. We showed a bit of quality but we did the basics well which we usually do.
“As we do at home we put teams under pressure and they knew they were in for a game in the second half. We’re slightly disappointed we didn’t get all three points, there were three chances where they made good blocks or saves.
“But still we haven’t lost, they were second in the league so it’s not a bad point.”
Along with his goal, Martin picked up the 16th booking of his Millwall career for a late challenge on Mark Marshall, who later provided the cross that led to his side’s opener.
The former Gillingham defender knows that’s an area of his game that he needs to improve.
He said: “I’m a bit disappointed with it, I tried to nick it but just caught the lad. I don’t want to keep getting booked and I’d to be careful after that.
“I knew coming into the game it was going to be tough because he’s quick and they try to utilise him, he’s a big player for them.
“You could probably look at the goal but I thought overall we got to grips with it in the second half and as a team we got on top of them.”
Despite all of Millwall’s dominance in the second half, it was the tip of Jordan Archer’s finger and the width of a post that saved them in injury time when a Mahlon Romeo mistake almost gifted Law the chance to win it for his side.
“Mahlon’s a young boy but he’ll learn from that, he won’t do that again,” Martin said. “The next time he’ll knock it out.
“There are a lot of young lads in the squad and there are things they’ll learn from throughout the season.
“We’re happy that Jordan got a little tip on it, it was a great save again but that’s what he’s there to do.”
Millwall now have a Tuesday night off for the first time in five weeks and Martin hopes that will help preparations before they face Coventry next weekend.
He said: “It’s a bit of a relief not to have another game, we could get more injuries, we were a bit light (Saturday) with the squad.
“Hopefully we’ll get a couple of people back next week. I’m sure the gaffer is a bit relieved as well, we’ll have a bit of recovery before Coventry.”
Image source: ©Charlie Compitus