GEORGE Saville scored within 51 seconds of the kick-off as Millwall held off Hull City’s fightback to make it five successive victories away from home in the league.
Saville put Millwall ahead from their first attack before Tom Elliott and Lee Gregory forced saves from Allan McGregor as the Lions continued their blistering start.
Jarrod Bowen rattled the crossbar for Hull but Jake Cooper doubled the lead for the visitors when he sent a looping header from Ben Marshall’s corner over McGregor.
Substitute Abel Hernandez pulled a goal back for Hull with 10 minutes left, but Millwall saw out the contest to pick up their 17th point from seven games since the beginning of February.
The Lions stay in 11th place in the Championship table, but keep pace with Brentford, just a point behind the Bees before the two London sides meet at The Den on Saturday.
Neil Harris changed his starting line-up for the first time in five league games, Elliott starting his first game since the FA Cup defeat at Rochdale last month, and his first in the league since the 0-0 draw with Derby in January.
And he made an immediate impact here, as Millwall scored their quickest goal under Harris. It was Elliott who put pressure on Michael Dawson and the ball squirted out to Jed Wallace, the winger finding Gregory in the box. The next touch made it, Gregory spotting the run of Saville out of the corner of his eye before he back-heeled the ball perfectly to the midfielder who finished low for his eighth goal of the season.
Elliott and Gregory were causing Hull all kinds of problems with their movement and powerful running, and both produced shots from the inside-right channel that McGregor had to save.
But Hull always looked dangerous, particularly when Bowen and Jackson Irvine were on the ball. Millwall were also allowing Seb Larsson too much space, and it was his crossfield pass to Ola Aina who headed it down to Bowen, the wide player striking a left-footed effort off the crossbar.
Irvine had also headed just wide from Larsson’s cross as Millwall lived dangerously. Mahlon Romeo came to his side’s rescue with a brilliant block as Kamil Grosicki was shooting inside the box.
The game was being played at a fierce pace and it was anyone’s guess who would score next. Fittingly, it was Cooper who got it on his 50th Millwall appearance, McGregor seemingly surprised by the arc of the ball as it appeared to hit the centre-back's shoulder before nestling in the right corner of his net.
Despite being two goals up, Harris was unhappy when his side overplayed the ball in their own half. He wanted his team to find Gregory and Elliott in a more urgent fashion, and Hull were still showing they had the slickness to create chances.
They got another one when Archer punched a corner away but only to Aina, who volleyed just over the crossbar.
Millwall were warned at Leeds what can happen to a 2-0 half-time lead, and despite being booed off at the break Hull came out determined, urged on by their skipper Dawson.
Bowen and Gregory traded quick efforts, both low shots gathered by the respective goalkeepers. There were then two close calls at either end, first when Nouha Dicko got through for the first time in the game and Archer came rapidly off his line to block, but the offside flag had gone up. Moments later Saville had the ball in the net again, but referee David Coote had seen a foul on McGregor.
Harris brought on Steve Morison and Fred Onyedinma for Elliott and Marshall, but it was an opposition substitute, Hernandez, returning for the first time since August, who had the chance to get one back for his side, only to drag his shot well off-target. Larsson was next to have a go, but his drive from long range was deflected over.
Harry Wilson got away from Romeo to zip in a low shot, but Archer was well-placed to save.
Millwall, meanwhile, had a new front two, Tim Cahill on for Gregory to partner Morison – the pair with a combined age of 72 – for the final 18 minutes. Cahill immediately made a nuisance of himself, getting booked and then winning a free-kick deep in Hull territory, as Millwall crept closer to making it 10 league games unbeaten.
Their run of away wins was put in jeopardy, though, when Romeo gave away a free-kick on the left and Hernandez finished Wilson’s delivery past Archer.
With five minutes left Onyedinma showed excellent pace to sprint onto Wallace’s pass, and perhaps he should have squared the ball for Cahill in the middle instead of shooting straight at McGregor.
But in the fifth minute of injury-time Onyedinma was back on the edge of his own box to dribble the ball out of danger, before he won a foul and Coote blew the final whistle.
Image: Millwall FC