By Jake Sanders
MILLWALL made it a club record-equalling six consecutive away league wins as goals from Lee Gregory and Ben Marshall gave them a 2-0 victory against Barnsley at Oakwell.
Gregory put Millwall ahead midway through the first-half and then on 63 minutes Marshall doubled their lead with a stunning strike from distance.
It meant the Lions ended a four-game losing streak against the Tykes in the league. Much more importantly, the win lifted Millwall to ninth in the Championship and just three points off the play-offs, albeit for a few hours before the later kick-offs, as Neil Harris’ side made it 12 league games without defeat.
Millwall didn’t have it all their own way against their struggling hosts, as Jordan Archer was required to pull off a number of excellent saves and Jake Cooper cleared off the line.
It was the perfect way to go into the international break, though the hope will be that their astonishing momentum is not disrupted.
Harris will also have his fingers crossed that his seven international players return from duty free from injury, with eight league games left this season.
At least they won’t be lacking for incentive when they return to action on Easter weekend. They face Nottingham Forest and Ipswich in four days, two sides who delivered two of the most painful defeats on the Lions this season for different reasons.
Millwall also owed Barnsley one, after the Tykes’s 3-1 league win at The Den earlier this season. Millwall took the lead on 25 minutes, as Jed Wallace picked up a loose ball in the middle of the pitch before finding Gregory who coolly rolled the ball past Nick Townsend from eight yards to score his ninth Championship goal of the season.
It was out of nothing and came after a good spell of pressure from the home side in which the Lions had to defend a couple of corners.
Wallace was involved again minutes later, but after combining well with Steve Morison his powerful cross was too far in front of Gregory.
Ten minutes later the visitors came close to adding a second. Shaun Hutchinson played a superb pass for Gregory who brought it out the air beautifully before finding George Saville, but after rounding Townsend he could only blaze over at the near post.
Barnsley were struggling to get anything going as the home crowd became increasingly frustrated. Stevie Mallan tried his luck from distance, but Archer easily gathered.
The home side came close to bringing themselves level just before the interval, but Liam Lindsay could only head onto the roof off the net from a corner.
Morison then had a golden chance to double Millwall’s lead on the stoke of half-time but completely missed his kick after being presented the opportunity by some poor Barnsley defending.
Barnsley started the second half in a much more positive way and Archer had to be at his best to turn Lindsay’s low effort behind for a corner.
Ten minutes later the Scottish international stopper was called into action again as he had tip Kieffer Moore’s header behind for another Tykes corner as the home side started to take control.
Millwall were showing they were a threat on the counter-attack, though, and they broke forward before Marshall cut inside to curl into the top corner from 25 yards out and make it 2-0. It was totally against the run of play, but a moment of individual brilliance that shocked Oakwell.
The home side almost hit back immediately, but Archer made a third fine save of the half, getting the faintest of touches to George Moncur’s effort that was heading towards the far corner.
Gregory then had a good chance to add a third, but Townsend blocked his close-range effort after a clever Morison pass.
The hosts didn’t give up, and came within inches of reducing the deficit when Oli McBurnie headed towards goal but Cooper somehow hooked off the line and then seconds later Archer had to be alert to beat away Mamadou Thiam’s powerful strike.
Harris reacted to that chance by introducing Jason Shackell in place of Gregory. Fred Onyedinma was then brought on in place of goalscorer Marshall and had a chance to seal the win but fired well wide of the target when one-on-one with Townsend.
It didn’t matter, though, as the Lions continue to roar towards the top six.
Image: Millwall FC