Report: Millwall 2-2 Rochdale

BEN Thompson scored an injury-time equaliser to earn Millwall an FA Cup fourth-round replay against plucky League One Rochdale.

Thompson prodded in at the near post to rescue his side, who were below par for much of the contest against their lower-league opponents.

Jed Wallace put Millwall in front in the 17th minute when he fired home from the penalty spot after Donervon Daniels had fouled Fred Onyedinma.

Rochdale drew level in the 33rd minute, Ian Henderson bending the ball around David Martin after being put through by Andrew Cannon.

Matt Done put Rochdale in front in the 53rd minute as Millwall struggled to impose themselves on the game.

There was a penalty shout when Wallace tumbled just in front of goal from substitute Steve Morison's cross, before Andy Cannon wriggled through in the box and blasted straight at Martin.

With 23 minutes left Elliott stretched to get his head to a cross but Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis was well-positioned to save.

In the 82nd minute it was Elliott again threatening a goal, and after Mahlon Romeo and Wallace combined the striker couldn’t direct his header inside the far post.

Just after Jake Cooper headed off target from Shane Ferguson’s cross, Neil Harris sent on Shaun Williams and Lee Gregory for Ryan Tunnicliffe and Onyedinma as the home side tried to rescue the game.

With three minutes left Morison found Romeo in the box with a header, the ball being helped on to Elliott whose shot was deflected over.

But Millwall finally levelled in added-time, Thompson getting his second goal in successive cup games when he finished first-time from Morison’s cross to the near post.

Lions boss Harris makes changes

The Lions manager made nine changes to his side from the 4-3 win at Leeds, with new signing Jason Shackell making his debut partnering Cooper in the centre of defence following his move from Derby.

There was a fresh front pair, Onyedinma and Elliott, while Thompson started and club captain Tony Craig came in at left back.

Onyedinma superbly created the breakthrough, bursting into space from midfield and then sidestepping Daniels who stuck out a leg to sweep the feet from under the striker. Wallace’s finish was emphatic, his sixth goal of the season, putting him second behind George Saville.

From there, you expected Millwall to go on and dominate, but instead it was Rochdale who rallied and they certainly didn’t look like a side destined for League Two.

Callum Camps dictated from midfield and they almost drew level when Mark Kitching got in on goal before Shackell denied him with a superb last-ditch tackle.

It was a pity his first major contribution in a Millwall shirt was almost immediately overshadowed, as Cannon found Henderson who showed composure to curve the ball around Martin.

When Millwall were winning the ball back in wide areas there was lots of space in front of them, Romeo and Shane Ferguson driving down their respective wings. But a dragged shot wide from Ferguson apart, Millwall were creating little.

No changes at half-time – and no change as Rochdale grow in confidence

Martin had already made two saves before he was powerless as a cross from Cannon took a deflection and looped over him for Done to tap in at the far post.

When Millwall’s next attack broke down there was the first sign of frustration from the home fans, and after Elliott saw a shot saved by Lillis, Morison came on for Shackell with Craig moving to centre-back and Ferguson to left-back.

Onyedinma and Elliott remained the front two, with Morison on the right and Wallace in an attacking midfield role looking to break forward.

Morison eventually provided the telling contribution, and it was a striker’s finish at the near post by Thompson.

Next up

Certainly not the extra fixture Millwall wanted, Rochdale away on a Tuesday night. Harris was always going to make changes to his side with two Championship games against Derby and Reading coming up in five days next week.

Millwall looked like a side that hadn’t played together a lot, in contrast to Rochdale, who changed just three of their players from their last league game.

Millwall will be gunning for revenge on Tuesday against Derby, who defeated them in December with three goals in five first-half minutes.

Harris said afterwards his team needed to learn lessons from that game, and they will certainly be alert to the Rams’ goal threats.

There will be the happy distraction of the draw for the last 16 on Monday. Before they can look forward to a last-16 clash, though, they will have to do it all again against these foes, who they now have failed to beat three times in the last two seasons.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)