LEE Gregory’s goal earned Millwall a point against Cardiff on Friday night – as Tim Cahill made his first Lions appearance since re-joining the club.
Cardiff went ahead within four minutes when Mahlon Romeo lost the ball to Junior Hoilett who ran on to drill a low shot past Jordan Archer.
Steve Morison almost pulled Millwall level but after bringing down Ben Marshall’s cross on his chest he saw his left-footed effort smack off the crossbar.
A huge tackle from Shaun Hutchinson on Sean Morrison led to George Saville crossing low to Morison, but he shot straight at Etheridge. And moments later it was the same result when Morison got the chance to run at the Cardiff defence.
Etheridge was beaten by a shot six minutes before half-time, but was relieved to see Gregory’s low effort from 25 yards clear his right-hand post.
A minute later, however, Gregory gave the Cardiff stopper no chance when he blasted Jed Wallace’s cross high into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
Millwall were on top now and had a chance to go in front just before half-time, but Morrison got back on his own line to clear Romeo’s cross with Gregory waiting behind the defender to apply the finish.
The Bluebirds’ January signing Gary Madine got his first chance to shoot seven minutes into the second half and Hutchinson had to throw himself in the way to make an important block.
Marshall had his first sight of goal in the 55th minute, his low effort taking a slight deflection and Etheridge did well to get down to push the ball around the post.
Cardiff’s goalkeeper was far busier and after Wallace shifted the ball to his left foot just inside the box to shoot, Etheridge palmed away the effort before diving on the loose ball.
Cardiff were still a threat, and Jake Cooper made a crucial intervention to deny Callum Patterson. Sol Bamba then had the ball in the net only for referee Keith Stroud to indicate it was a Bluebirds free-kick on the edge of the box after Morison's challenge on Joe Bennett. Hoilett’s shot hit the wall, before Archer came to claim the ball and crashed into Paterson as he headed over.
Moments later Saville cleared Patterson’s header off the line, before in injury-time Patterson got through but a nudge from James Meredith put him off and he fired just wide.
Cahill makes return – as Marshall makes promising debut
Sunday, May 9, 2004. That was the last time Tim Cahill had played for Millwall at The Den, in a 1-0 win over Bradford in the old Division One.
Cahill was applauded when he went out to warm up in the 25th minute, and by that stage Millwall were on top after the early period when they struggled to get anything from their opponents.
Marshall impressed on his debut, creating that chance for Morison and showing he is not afraid to shoot from distance. He will also offer another threat from dead balls.
Two more regular faces were causing Cardiff problems, the hosts struggling to deal with the non-stop movement of Gregory and Wallace. Lions fans responded to that energy as Millwall dominated the promotion-chasers.
Cahill was out to warm up again after an hour, as Morison continued to be Millwall’s chief architect – and was later named man of the match – almost putting Gregory through before sweeping the ball across the pitch to Marshall, but he couldn’t keep his 25-yard effort down.
Millwall fans were straining to see who was preparing to come on as Harris called a player off the bench with 14 minutes left. It was Fred Onyedinma rather than Cahill, with Marshall going off.
The moment finally came in the 90th minute, though, the Den crowd rising to their feet as Cahill came on for Gregory. Cahill blocked down Morrison’s clearance in injury-time before finding Wallace, but Cardiff cleared the winger’s cross.
Millwall recover from poor start
Romeo was booked after two minutes and then in the fourth minute was caught in possession by Hoilett 40 yards out. Hoilett had lots to do but took the invitation to run into the space in front of him before firing low into Archer’s bottom-right corner.
It was pure bloody-mindedness and determination that saw Millwall work their way back into the game and they were soon creating the best chances as Cardiff struggled to get out of their own half.
Morison did brilliantly to read the flight of Marshall’s cross as Bamba got under the ball, the Lions captain almost doing everything right but getting too much height on his shot.
Morison was also involved in Millwall’s equaliser when despite having his back turned to goal he flicked the ball down the line to Wallace. Gregory was already on the run knowing Wallace would quickly play the ball across goal and in front of the striker. Gregory hit it first time from 12 yards and the ball was in the back of the net before Etheridge could react. That moved perfectly illustrated how much the Lions’ attacking players are on the same wavelength.
Cardiff attempted to disrupt their rampant opponents in the second half by seeming to easily hit the turf in the tackle when earlier they had looked the more physical side.
There was a frantic end to the game as it appeared Cardiff had stored up all their chances for the last 10 minutes.
Patterson almost won it for them, as Cahill couldn’t quite provide the fairytale finish.
Image: Millwall FC