By Jake Sanders
MILLWALL were beaten 2-1 by League Two side Colchester United at the JobServe Stadium in their penultimate pre-season friendly.
Sammie Szmodics broke the deadlock for the home side before Kane Vincent-Young doubled their lead with a fine solo effort after 30 minutes. Jed Wallace continued his impressive form by reducing the deficit in the closing stages, but the U’s held on for the win.
The defeat ends the Lions’ unbeaten pre-season run on English soil as they continue their preparations for the start of the Championship season a week on Saturday.
James Meredith was named in the starting XI for the first time this summer since returning from World Cup duty with Australia, while Ben Amos was handed his Lions debut in one of nine changes from Saturday’s victory at Cambridge United.
Murray Wallace played from the start for the first time since joining from Scunthorpe, partnering Byron Webster in the centre of the Millwall defence.
The home side started the brighter and came close to taking the lead inside the first five minutes. Courtney Senior did well down the right before finding Szmodics on the inside, but his goal-bound effort was superbly blocked by Webster.
At the other end, goalkeeper Dillon Barnes needed to be at his best to tip Shane Ferguson’s curling free-kick behind for a corner after good initial play by Fred Onyedinma to win the foul.
Just as Millwall started to find their rhythm, they found themselves behind. Senior found Szmodics with a fine through pass and he coolly lifted the ball over Amos in the Lions goal to give Colchester the lead.
The Championship side looked for an instant response and almost got it. First, Aiden O’Brien – starting in a wide-left position with Fred Onyedinma and Steve Morison up front – forced Barnes into a good save from 18 yards and then from the resulting corner Onyedinma could only head over from close range after Morison had nodded the ball back across goal.
Millwall were made to pay for those missed opportunities as just past the half-hour mark the U’s doubled their lead. Vincent-Young combined well with Brennan Dickerson before the full-back advanced into the box and fired high past Amos into the roof of the net.
The Lions didn’t improve in the second half and as a result, Harris introduced Lee Gregory, Mahlon Romeo and Wallace as the visitors looked for a route back into the game, but it was Colchester who came closest to scoring again. Luke Norris struck the bar from distance, with Amos well beaten.
The visitors did have the final say, as Wallace did fired home with the final kick of the game, curling into the far corner, but it wasn’t enough to rescue a result for Harris’ side.
Millwall host 2. Bundesliga side VfL Bochum in Jimmy Abdou’s testimonial on Saturday in their final pre-season friendly before Middlesbrough visit The Den on 4 August.