By Jake Sanders
MILLWALL picked up another impressive point on the road but left Villa Park wondering what might have been as they missed a host of chances to get their first away win of the campaign.
Lee Gregory came closest on 75 minutes, but his left-footed strike hit the bar. Jed Wallace had a great chance midway through the first-half, but the impressive Sam Johnstone denied him with a smart save.
Neil Harris made two changes from Millwall’s win over Sheffield United last weekend. David Martin made his Lions debut in place of Jordan Archer, who missed out through illness, and Aiden O’Brien returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured Shane Ferguson. Elsewhere, Shaun Williams was named in the squad for the first time since September.
Aston Villa dominated the early exchanges and had the first chance of the afternoon. Mahlon Romeo was caught in possession and Albert Adomah picked up the loose ball before finding Keinan Davis, but he fired over. Villa went even closer just minutes later, but Adomah’s curling effort also failed to trouble Martin.
It took Millwall 20 minutes to settle and they nearly stamped their authority on the game in the perfect way. A glorious pass from O’Brien sent Wallace in the clear, but he was denied by a superb save from Johnstone in the Villa goal.
The Lions were then almost caught at the other end, though. Davis was played clean through by Robert Snodgrass, but Jake Cooper made a sensational last ditch-tackle to deny him at the expense of a corner.
Despite that chance for their opponents, Millwall weren't unsettled. They caught the hosts high up the pitch and a three-against-two situation developed. George Saville broke away and found Wallace on his right, but he opted to back-heel for Ryan Tunnicliffe instead of going alone and the chance was wasted.
Boos rang out around Villa Park as referee Andy Davies blew his whistle for half-time. The home fans were clearly unhappy with what they had seen so far.
Millwall started the second half how they ended the first. O’Brien broke away, but couldn’t keep his shot down. Meanwhile, at the other end, Davis had a shot blocked and despite appeals for a penalty from the home crowd, nothing was given.
The home side were becoming increasingly frustrated after a flurry of misplaced passes. Millwall looked so dangerous on the counter-attack, but delivery from wide areas continued to be poor. This time, Wallace got away from Neil Taylor, but his cross went straight out for a goal-kick, much to the annoyance of Gregory, who was unmarked.
O’Brien continued to be a threat down the left. He skinned Alan Hutton for the umpteenth time, but didn’t have enough power in his shot to beat Johnstone at his near post.
It took Villa 67 minutes to test Martin, but he held firm to push Jack Grealish’s curling effort behind for a corner.
Steve Morison and Gregory were doing a fine job in holding the ball up for Millwall and the latter was nearly rewarded for his hard work with 15 minutes left. Morison set him away down the left, but after twisting and turning he could only clip the top of the crossbar, with Johnstone beaten. It would have been no less than Millwall deserved.
Villa pushed for a winner late on, but the Lions defended superbly, and a point was the least they deserved to leave Villa Park with.
Image: Millwall FC