MILLWALL fell to their third successive defeat in all competitions as Scunthorpe extended their unbeaten run at home in the league to 23 games with a 3-0 win at Glanford Park.
Paddy Madden gave the home side the lead in the 37th minute when he headed over Jordan Archer into the far corner after Joe Martin had fouled Hakeeb Adelakun on the right.
Adelakun made it two just before the break as he fired past Archer after Shaun Hutchinson had blocked his initial shot.
Lions manager Neil Harris sent on Steve Morison and David Worrall at the break, with Fred Onyedinma and Joe Martin making way. A minute into the second half Worrall’s free-kick found Hutchinson at the back post but he headed over.
Madden put Scunthorpe three goals ahead in the 68th minute when he finished low past Archer inside the box. Moments later Scunthorpe left-back Harry Toffolo got forward to shoot from outside the area, but Archer was behind the ball to make the save.
Harris took off Mahlon Romeo in the 74th minute with Calum Butcher coming on, and the midfielder almost reduced the deficit but saw his close-range shot charged down.
But Scunthorpe held on relatively comfortably to their lead, and could have added a fourth through Madden in injury time, as they bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Rochdale. Millwall, meanwhile, will have to rouse themselves quickly ahead of their south London derby against Charlton on Wednesday.
A measure of the job that faced the Lions on Saturday could be taken from a glance at Scunthorpe’s home record. Graham Alexander hadn’t experienced defeat at Glanford Park since taking charge last March. Their formidable run had started at the tail end of the ultimately doomed tenure of Mark Robins, almost a year and a sequence of 22 games unbeaten since a 1-0 loss to Sheffield United 363 days ago.
Scunthorpe had also scored more than two goals per game so far this season in the league, the only side in the division above a two-goal average.
For the first half an hour of this contest there wasn’t much to make it obvious that there was a 16-point gap between the sides in the table. Millwall did have an escape in the first minute when Hutchinson – back in the side after a seven-game absence – sliced his clearance to almost allow Scunthorpe through.
Both sides’ formations and styles mirrored the other. Scunthorpe don’t take long to go from back to front, but the clinical and rapid way they do it would be illustrated before the break.
Before that, Shaun Williams almost caught out Luke Daniels at his near post with a half-volley from 35 yards, the goalkeeper perhaps not fully sure of his bearings when he turned the ball around the post.
Hutchinson headed over after Millwall had recycled the ball from the resulting corner, before Onyedinma slipped Lee Gregory through in the box and Daniels had to be quick to spring from his line to make the save.
Scunthorpe gradually started to subdue their opponents, though, and that was mainly down to the threat of Adelakun. He cut in to test Archer before Martin fouled him on Scunthorpe’s right and was booked for the eighth time this season. From the free-kick, Madden darted to the near post to flick home a header from Josh Morris’ delivery.
Scunthorpe’s second showed how lethal they are on the break, but Millwall will wonder how they were caught when seconds before Adelakun was adding the second it was the away side that were pressing deep in the Iron half. But Romeo was dispossessed, Morris swept a pass to right-back Jordan Clarke whose superb first touch set him away. Adelakun was on the move and though Hutchinson stopped his first effort the winger drove home the loose ball from a tight angle inside the box.
Millwall attempted to press higher up the pitch in the second half, but Scunthorpe were content to get players back around their own penalty area and though centre-backs Murray Wallace and Charlie Goode had a new threat to cope with in Morison, they had the height and the strength to deal with it.
It was partly a consequence of Millwall having so few players back in their own half that allowed Scunthorpe the chance to go 3-0 up. Archer initially seemed to have taken the correct option to sprint outside his box to head clear. But Tom Hopper nipped in front of Hutchinson to gain possession before Millwall could recover their defensive shape, and the attacker waited for the right moment with Tony Craig backpedalling to pick out Madden in the centre for a composed finish.
Madden wasn't far away from completing his hat-trick in injury time but Millwall somehow scrambled the ball off the line.
Image source: ©Millwall FC