MILLWALL extended their unbeaten run over their south London rivals Charlton Athletic to 10 games after a 0-0 draw at The Valley on Saturday afternoon.
It was Millwall’s first clean sheet of the season away from home in the league but they could have gone away with all three points had Lee Gregory’s late header from Shaun Williams’ free-kick been inside the post rather than inches the wrong side of it.
The Lions ended the contest on top and Byron Webster was also close to making a breakthrough when he headed a corner wide, after he saw a first-half header saved by Declan Rudd.
The game ended in some controversy with referee Keith Stroud sending off Addicks defender Jorge Teixeira after he had blown the final whistle. Stroud went off to boos from the home fans after he had earlier ruled out an Addicks goal and then he accidentally halted a Charlton counterattack when he couldn’t get out of the way quickly enough.
Millwall’s point lifted them to eighth place in the League One table as they stretched their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions.
There was a familiar look to Millwall’s side, the sixth successive game that boss Neil Harris picked the same starting XI and the same match-day squad. Karl Robinson gave debuts to two of his January signings, Lewis Page starting at left-back and Nathan Byrne on the right side of an attacking front three.
Robinson’s plan for his side was obvious: Lone striker Josh Magennis put a lot of physical pressure on Millwall’s centre-backs in the early stages, and the home team were looking to test Shaun Cummings’ defensive resilience by playing long diagonal passes to Adam Chicksen.
But within 28 minutes those plans were affected when first Magennis injured himself tackling Shaun Hutchinson and then Page hobbled off.
Tony Watt, recently recalled after an indifferent loan spell at Hearts, came on for Magennis, with another new signing, Jay Dasilva, introduced for Page.
Watt is clearly not yet at full fitness and didn’t seem keen to make the kind of runs into the box Magennis would have, preferring instead to pick the ball up deep. It was from one such move that he threatened almost immediately after coming on when he dribbled past a couple of Millwall defenders before winning a corner and, after the away side had cleared, Jordan Archer had to save Joe Aribo’s low shot.
Charlton had most of the possession but Millwall are comfortable without the ball and created the two best chances before the break. Addicks centre-backs Patrick Bauer and Teixeira didn’t look comfortable against Gregory and Steve Morison. In the eighth minute Gregory stole in behind Bauer from Tony Craig’s long ball forward and though he lifted his effort over Rudd the ball went wide.
In the 26th minute Webster found himself free in the penalty area to get his head to Williams’ free-kick but Rudd got down well to save.
It was from Watt’s inclination to drop deep again that Charlton created space on the left for Dasilva to cross but the ball in was too close to Archer. Near the end of the half Charlton’s altered attacking balance was illustrated when Byrne crossed from the right and there was frustration in the crowd when there was no one near it, Watt not making that threatening run. Byrne had also tested Archer with a couple of low shots that the goalkeeper dealt with comfortably.
Watt was more aggressive after the break, and was booked for a late tackle on Craig as the tension on the pitch and in the stands increased. In the 58th minute Charlton thought they had gone in front when Bauer finished to the back of the net, but Stroud had blown for a foul on Archer as the goalkeeper was about to clear.
Harris brought on wingers Shane Ferguson and David Worrall for Aiden O’Brien and Fred Onyedinma with 66 minutes gone and five minutes later Ferguson was just off target after striking Morison’s knockdown towards goal.
In the 75th minute Hutchinson was close to giving Millwall the lead but headed inches wide. With 10 minutes left Gregory led a solo breakaway with Worrall trying to get up in support. Gregory took on a difficult chance but shot wide of Rudd’s far post.
Millwall were in the ascendancy as the game crept towards 90 minutes and after Craig was thwarted at the far post, Webster headed the corner just wide.
Gregory went even closer in the 86th minute when his header from Williams’ free-kick beat Rudd but also cleared the far post.
Image: Millwall FC