Report: Coventry City 0-2 Millwall

JAKE Cooper scored his first goal for Millwall as Neil Harris’ side made it 10 games unbeaten in all competitions with a first win in five league games to deepen the problems for Coventry who look bound for League Two. 

Cooper put Millwall ahead when he turned home Shaun Williams’ corner to the back post. Coventry were game but limited and Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer easily saved twice from Ryan Haynes before Marcus Tudgay shot just over the crossbar in the 41st minute.

Coventry enjoyed the larger share of possession in the second period, but Millwall always looked comfortable as the home side lacked bite up front, and Morison made it 2-0 10 minutes from time when he tapped in his 15th goal of the season after goalkeeper Lee Burge had saved substitute Fred Onyedinma’s shot.

The win was Millwall’s first in the league since victory over Gillingham in December, and there was the added bonus that a number of their promotion rivals failed to claim three points on Saturday.

The only worry for Harris was the failure of midfielder Ben Thompson to emerge for the second half with Jimmy Abdou coming on at the break.

But that’s nothing compared to Coventry’s woes.

There is no other League One club and probably not one in the entire Football League the reality of whose predicament is as far detached from its surroundings. The commercial area underneath the stands of the Ricoh Arena carries more the air of high-street shopping than a football ground.

But away from Club Jaguar and the Ericsson Exhibition Hall fans hadn’t seen a league win on the pitch here since the start of November.

Their off-field problems were highlighted again last week when nine fans were arrested for invading the pitch at Northampton in protest against owners Sisu, and it looks likely they will be playing fourth-tier football next season. It’s all the more poignant that a black-and-white photo of Jimmy Hill on a large cloth canvas drapes over several rows in an empty North Stand.

Millwall are probably one of the teams you least want to face when you’re in that situation and eight points adrift of safety.

Coventry, however, didn’t play like a side with all that weight on their shoulders in the opening period of the game and only an excellently timed Byron Webster tackle prevented striker Tudgay from getting a shot on goal.

The sense of futility of the first protest of the game was only added to by the timing of Millwall’s opening goal in the 33rd minute. With Williams waiting to take a corner after an Aiden O’Brien flick had set up Morison for a shot that Burge saved, a knot of Sky Blues fans under the screen in the East Stand lobbed tennis balls onto the pitch. It didn’t put Millwall off their routine and when Williams aimed his delivery to the back post Cooper was there to bundle home.

Coventry’s players were trying to offer some resistance on the pitch and twice in the opening half left-back Haynes cut in but both of his right-footed efforts were straight at Archer. Kyel Reid, facing a recalled Mahlon Romeo, found space on the left to cross a couple of times, but Webster and Cooper had the space in front of Archer well covered.

Centre-back Farrend Rawson then went close after he got on the end of Callum Reilly’s corner, before Archer was relieved to see Tudgay’s shot from 20 yards just clear his crossbar. At the other end O’Brien crossed for Lee Gregory but he couldn’t get enough power into his header to really trouble Burge.

Coventry were out a couple of minutes before Millwall after the half-time break, and they started at a brisk pace. The home fans thought defender Nathan Clarke had equalised when he spun and shot low inside the box in the 50th minute, but the ball had gone wide before coming back off a support pole behind the goal and shaking the net.

Four minutes later Burge riskily came off his line to close down Gregory. The Millwall forward mis-kicked his attempted shot, but recovered his composure to pick out Morison whose low effort was deflected for a corner.

Coventry didn’t give up, but Onyedinma’s cameo up front and Morison’s instincts made the points safe to leave the midlands club closer to the precipice.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly