Report: Millwall 0-3 Oxford

MILLWALL produced one of their poorest performances of the season as Oxford United won 3-0 at The Den on Saturday.

The home side made a disastrous start and Conor McAleny scored in the sixth and ninth minutes to put Oxford two goals ahead.

Millwall didn’t have a shot on target before the break and at half-time Neil Harris brought on Shane Ferguson at left-back for Tony Craig, who had been booked.

Oxford went 3-0 ahead in the 71st minute, Joshua Ruffels heading in Chris Maguire’s corner as attention turned to what was happening at Shrewsbury and Oldham.

At the final whistle, Millwall could have had no complaints that their 15-game unbeaten home run was brought to a crashing halt. They were outplayed by a side that had little to play for approaching the end of the season, and the worry is even if they do make the play-offs what kind of mental state they will be in.

They should have won but didn’t at Fleetwood, and then capitulated on Saturday afternoon.

Jordan Archer, back in the side after injury, endured an ordeal. He too will have to quickly get over this ahead of the final weekend of the regular League One season.

Before the game and at half-time the PA requested that people stay off the pitch at the final whistle. Two individuals ignored that with 10 minutes left, and it was the perfect image for the miserable nature of the afternoon as the game was held up while stewards tackled them and then removed them from the field.

The only positive from a forgettable afternoon is that they are still sixth.

Archer started after missing the last five games with a quad injury, and he was picking the ball out of his net twice within the first 10 minutes.

The question before the game was whether Oxford, without expectation, would play with freedom and expression, or if their minds would be elsewhere given they couldn’t reach the play-offs. The away side answered that emphatically.

Michael Appleton’s team were bright and eager, and took the lead when midfielder Ruffels found McAleny, who had stealthily moved in off the left wing. He took one touch and with his second dispatched a low shot past Archer.

The speed between touches perhaps surprised Archer, whose last involvement had been in the 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United on March 28 when he came off injured in the first half.

The feeling that perhaps he was a little rusty was only enhanced given the nature of Oxford’s second. McAleny, this time in his wide position on the left, cut inside and Millwall seemed defensively well set up to deal with a cross. Instead McAleny curled a shot towards the far post and though there didn’t look to be a great deal of pace on it Archer reacted late as the ball found the bottom corner.

Millwall’s response for the rest of the half didn’t offer much encouragement they could turn it around, and the news that Southend were drawing and Rochdale ahead, scores that put Millwall eighth, contributed to the sense of gloom.

And the sense that Millwall were totally off their game was only added to when shortly before half-time Archer attempted to take a short kick-out to Jake Cooper. As the ball dribbled slowly across the box, Cooper seemed unsure if it was actually in play and with Maguire closing in the defender and his goalkeeper were relieved that referee Dean Whitestone blew his whistle for it to be taken again.

At the other end Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood didn’t have a shot to save in the first half.

Millwall needed to make some kind of statement after the break, yet it was Oxford still moving ominously forward, and Archer was forced to save McAleny’s low shot to his near post.

Eastwood did, finally, have a save to make in the 61st minute after Aiden O’Brien got through. The attacker was favourite to score, but Eastwood was swiftly off his line to make the block. Oxford immediately went down the other end, and Archer touched Marvin Johnson’s strike wide of the post.

The news that Shrewsbury had taken the lead against Southend lifted Millwall a place in the standings as they were, and then, incredibly, they were back up to sixth as Oldham equalised against Rochdale.

At The Den, Oxford rammed home the importance of results needing to go Millwall’s way when Ruffels headed home after Archer had come for and failed to reach Maguire’s corner.

Stewards moved to the edge of the pitch to prevent any more incursions, though there was never the chance of the euphoria after last season’s 3-0 win over Oldham being repeated, when Millwall had guaranteed their play-of place with a game to spare.

In the end there was a pitch invasion and more pleas that with the news Southend and Rochdale had failed to win there could be one more game here this season.

Millwall – somehow – can still make that a reality.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)

10 thoughts on “Report: Millwall 0-3 Oxford

  • April 22, 2017 at 17:33
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    How the f*** can a supposedly full strength Millwall team lose 0-3 at home in a game they had to win?
    There's something seriously wrong here and why was King dropped just because Archer was fit? Craig was replaced because he would have got a red card second half but shouldn't have played anyway as Martin had played well. Sorry Millwall but that was a f****** disgrace.
    Shame on you all.

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    • April 22, 2017 at 17:52
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      @NICKOLA: Totally agree Nickola but you forgot to say shame on Harris. He had no right bringing back Archer and his best mate Craig, after saying last week was the best away performance all season.. .. Sorry for the sarcasm but its got to be done....... SUPER SUPER NEIL, SUPER SUPER NEIL, SUPER SUPER NEIL SUPER NEIL HARRIS. NOT

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    • April 22, 2017 at 18:20
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      @NICKOLA: Your comments are spot on. Also worth mentioning
      is that when Gregory and Morison aren't scoring we have no Plan B because we have no other strikers on the bench. Smith should at least be there and we need to sign at least one other striker as backup because Pavey and Philpot haven't improved..

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      • April 22, 2017 at 18:31
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        @denslions: Well based on today we'll be in League one next year which will mean adios to Gregory so we'll need a lot of new strikers.

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  • April 22, 2017 at 20:06
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    I agree with all of the above posts. I have been supporting Wall for 57 years, this is without doubt one of the worst performances at home I have witnessed. Why did Harris replace King and Martin? Every other team in the league know how we play, hoof it to Morrison, knock it on and hope. Never a plan B. When we were 2-0 down , you looked at our bench and said who could be brought on to change the game. Sadly No One. I love this club but it just has no ambition, no real investment, we still struggle with loans, juniors and players at the wrong end of their career.

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  • April 22, 2017 at 22:28
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    Well according to Harris we played our best football all season at Fleetwood, so why
    Bring back Archer and Craig, brainless pratt,

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  • April 23, 2017 at 12:00
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    Ive been commenting for weeks now that Harris has not got a clue.Any good results we have had have been luck and crap opposistion. Smith was doing well for us and Harris brought back that crap player Gregory.he is crap so
    Millwall owners Get shot of Harris,Craig and really the rest of the crap that produced that rubbish we all paid so much to see yesterday
    Listen owners get shot of them or your gates will be 500 next season.
    By the way we are not good enough to go into the champ ship
    What a season of rubbish

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  • April 23, 2017 at 13:36
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    All I can take from that game is that we dodged a bullet with all the other results and maybe, just maybe, got away with a shocker, hopefully just in time. Agree about Archer and Craig (and I am by no means one of the Craig haters) - after the performance against Northampton and, by all accounts, against Fleetwood, why break up a team playing well. Not as if Craig and Archer are clearly a class above Martin and King. Also - Fergie for Craig and then, with about 10 minutes to go, Worrall on - who I am afraid I don't think has contributed anything when coming on as a sub. And how on earth did we finish with an unused sub?! Whatever the position re Fred, the Oxford back 4 had Morro and Gregory's number pretty much. We had to do something different - why not get Fred trying to run at them? Looked an incredibly nervy performance. COYL. Make next weekend's trip to Bristol a great one for us all.

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    • April 23, 2017 at 15:02
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      @Brendan: shocking performance tactical a diseaster Harris shouldn't have changed team we played like we did in playoffs final against Barnsley! Last chance saloon against Bristol rovers all out attack no bull s*** media hype saying how unlucky we are do talking on pitch

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  • April 23, 2017 at 15:45
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    It was so bad never seen anything like it in 56 years. If you check all our youngsters on loan are on the bench and are not getting any game time. Bring rm back and let then inprove in a Lions shirt

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