TOM Elliott and Jake Cooper were on target as Millwall put in a much better second-half performance to defeat Cambridge United on Saturday afternoon.
After a less than action-packed opening 25 minutes, Ade Azeez went close to putting Cambridge in front but volleyed over Jordan Archer’s crossbar.
Archer then saved centre-back Greg Taylor’s effort low to his left-hand post before Reggie Lambe shot just wide on the opposite side.
Millwall created their first proper opening in the 37th minute when Jed Wallace’s cross found Lee Gregory eight yards out. David Forde saved his first effort then batted away the follow-up to foil his former team-mate.
Archer pulled off another excellent save early in the second half when he rushed out to deny Lambe, just as the whistle went for a Millwall free-kick for an infringement by Azeez.
Millwall continued to toil and it was Cambridge who were more threatening, Tom Knowles forcing Archer into a low save before the same player sent a shot just wide of the far post after Lambe had attacked through the centre.
Shane Ferguson then clipped the top of the crossbar and at the other end Mahlon Romeo took a chance bundling over Knowles in the box but the referee deemed it shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
In the 70th minute Elliott found some rare space opening up in front of him but he couldn’t keep his half-volley down.
He had an easier chance three minutes later, nodding in after Cooper’s initial header from Shaun Williams’ corner had come off the post.
Millwall went two up nine minutes from time. Cambridge initially cleared a corner but the Lions won the ball back and Cooper had stayed up front to head home substitute Aiden O’Brien’s cross.
Keepers ensure goalless first half before Millwall quality shows
Archer’s emergence after signing from Tottenham in 2015 eventually led to the end of Forde’s Millwall career.
Archer has a new goalkeeping coach in Lee Turner and knows a dip in form is likely to cost him this season with Ben Amos now at the club.
Amos and David Martin didn’t travel to Cambridge – youngster Ryan Sandford was on the bench – the pair instead set to play at Colchester on Tuesday night.
Archer was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first part of the first half, producing one smart stop down low to his left and generally commanding his area well.
Forde is 38 now and showed he still possesses decent reflexes by denying Gregory, though the striker should really have put his side in front.
Forde was eventually beaten, and will feel he could have done better on the second goal, getting a hands to Cooper’s header but seeing the ball cross the line in front of 394 visiting fans.
Thompson and Ferguson get chances to impress
You can’t read a whole lot into pre-season friendlies especially when most of the players just give off the air of wanting to get through them without picking up an injury.
Ben Thompson was one of those who didn’t look like he was reading from that particular script. He was positive on the ball trying to get his side moving forward, one cross-field pass to Conor McLaughlin catching the eye.
But there was little other cohesive link-up play in the opening half between the Lions forward or flank units.
Wallace lifted one effort over from outside the box and on the stroke of half-time got the same result with a free-kick from 25 yards.
Thompson tried to test veteran goalkeeper Forde from 25 yards 10 minutes into the second half but hit his shot wide.
Thompson could be happy with his performance, but he still has Williams, George Saville and Ryan Tunnicliffe ahead of him for a place in the team.
That could leave him with a difficult decision this summer. He became a regular in the side in 2015-16, Harris’ first full season in charge, but has a battle to get back to that level.
He will be 23 in October, and may feel a loan move is his most likely route to first-team football.
Ferguson is in a similar situation. He has such a quality left foot, and Forde was beaten by that free-kick that hit the woodwork.
O’Brien came on for him on Saturday afternoon and is the probable starter on the left side of midfield for the opening game of the Championship season against Middlesbrough.
Ferguson is also unlikely to be satisfied with a fringe role.
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