MILLWALL extended their unbeaten run to four games after a 2-2 draw with AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow in League One’s early kick-off on Monday.
Aiden O’Brien put Millwall in front in the fifth minute when he took a couple of touches 25 yards out and fired in a shot that evaded James Shea’s reach before the ball crashed in off the underside of the crossbar.
The home side levelled seven minutes later when centre-back Darius Charles headed a corner towards goal, and former Millwall striker Lyle Taylor was unmarked to head past Jordan Archer.
Ben Thompson tested Shea before the goalkeeper denied Lee Gregory from close range in the 30th minute. Moments later Steve Morison met O’Brien’s cross from the left but the striker couldn’t direct his header on target.
But Morison got his goal five minutes before the break. It came moments after Dons midfielder Jake Reeves had fired over Archer’s crossbar. From the goalkeeper’s goal-kick Gregory challenged Paul Robinson for the ball and it ran through to Morison who lobbed Shea.
Charles headed Dean Parrett’s free-kick over the crossbar five minutes after the break, before the home side pegged Millwall back again when Taylor fired in a cross from the right and Tom Elliott dived to head past Archer at the near post.
Millwall were claiming a penalty just after the hour mark when Robinson appeared to wrestle Byron Webster to the ground from Shaun Williams’ free-kick, before the ball came off the defender’s head and Shea, who was going the other way, had to react to save on the line. From Williams’ corner Gregory saw his effort from eight yards deflect over.
Fourteen minutes from time Archer saved his side when he produced a superb block to keep out Reeves’ wicked low drive from inside the box.
Substitute David Worrall had a late chance to test Shea but he couldn’t keep his left-footed drive down.
Millwall were unchanged for a fourth successive game. It was also a fourth fixture in under two weeks over an intense festive period.
But they got out of the blocks quickly and it’s doubtful O’Brien has scored a better goal than the one that put his side ahead. It was clearly on his mind when he picked up possession outside the Dons box, and though his shot was straight at Shea, it had too much pace and dip and the goalkeeper couldn’t get a hand to it.
But a hallmark of Neal Ardley’s side is their ability to absorb blows before responding. Taylor’s movement unsettled Millwall, while his strike partner Elliott’s power was evident, particularly when he left Webster prone at one point in the first half after seeming to catch the defender in the ribs with a stray boot.
The home side had already levelled by that stage. That fact that it was an out-swinging corner from Parrett caused Millwall’s defence to take a step out, and Taylor anticipated Charles’ header to nod past Archer from six yards.
Dons kept probing, with Taylor appearing in inside-right and left channels to keep the away defence on their toes.
But it was another familiar sequence that led to Millwall’s second goal. AFC Wimbledon’s defence seemed to stop and expect an offside flag to shoot up when the ball found its way through to Morison, who had time to weigh up his options before he calmly lofted a finish over Shea. It was Morison’s 12th goal in 25 games this season.
The Dons’ second equaliser of the afternoon was down to Taylor’s trickery and then Elliott’s bravery in getting down low to superbly turn the ball home at the near post.
But Millwall could have had legitimate complaints referee Nigel Miller was allowing Robinson in particular to wrap his arms around Webster anytime Millwall got a set-piece. After a number of incidents Lions captain Tony Craig sought out the official to point out the home side’s apparent indiscretions.
Archer then intervened with a stunning reflex save as these sides drew for the second time this season. Millwall missed out on the chance to move into the top six before the later games kicked off, but boss Neil Harris will be satisfied with his side’s battling start to the New Year.
Image: Millwall FC