REPORT: Millwall 1-1 Leeds United

MILLWALL were within minutes of ending Leeds United’s unbeaten league record this season in an enthralling game of football at The Den which saw both benches confront each other late on.

Tyler Roberts went close twice before the break before he had the first chance of the second half but his shot was deflected away.

Jed Wallace gave Millwall the lead in the 55th minute with his first goal since April and second in two games against Leeds.



And after making a crucial save from Roberts in the first half, Ben Amos made another to deny Luke Ayling a goal.

Jack Harrison equalised a minute from time with a low shot from outside the box, before in added-time Tom Elliott’s header came back off the post as Millwall created a series of late opportunities to claim three points.

First half – Millwall more than match league leaders



Lions boss Neil Harris handed club-record signing Ryan Leonard a debut in midfield – but there was no Jordan Archer in the match-day squad for the second successive game, Amos starting in goal and Dave Martin on the bench.

Millwall shaded the first half, but the better chances fell to Leeds.

Ten minutes before the break Barry Douglas ran in behind Conor McLaughlin  to cross for Roberts, and with Amos out of his goal Murray Wallace prevented his side going behind with an excellent block.

Leeds were missing four attacking players which meant 19-year-old Roberts leading the attacking line, in Marcelo Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 formation.

The striker had another opportunity seconds before the half-time whistle, this time Wallace’s hesitant play in letting the ball bounce letting the opponent through on goal. Amos had to react quickly and he spread himself to save with no Leeds player there to capitalise on the loose ball.

Other than those avoidable chances, Millwall’s first-half plan worked. They pressed their opponents high, forcing errors but just failing to have enough numbers forward to make it more uncomfortable for Leeds.

Leonard thumped a header towards goal from Shaun Williams’ corner in the 14th minute, but Steve Morison couldn’t turn the ball past goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Leeds were at their most dangerous when the ball was at the feet of Samuel Saiz – the ‘1’ in Bielsa’s system – but Millwall players tracked the movement of their opponents well, those two goal-scoring chances aside.

Aiden O’Brien was clearly in confident form after his goal on his international debut, dribbling the ball forward with purpose, and on the other wing Wallace had chances to cross, but Leeds’ central-defensive duo Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper were difficult to get past.

Second half – Lions don’t get what they deserve

Roberts slipped in unnoticed behind the Lions defence just after the break from Ezgjan Alioski’s pass, but defender Wallace half-blocked his effort and Leeds couldn’t profit from the corner.

Leonard had been on throw-in detail within 20 yards of the Leeds goal, without success.

That changed in the 55th minute after Leeds had initially cleared another long delivery. This time Leonard found Jake Cooper who flicked on with his head and Wallace arrived at the back post to turn the ball back across goal and into the far bottom corner.

Amos came to Millwall’s rescue again to deny full-back Ayling who had arrived at the back post to shoot.

Bielsa made three substitutions from the 68th to the 74th minutes and went even more attacking.

Tom Bradshaw came on for Morison as Leeds left two at the back when they had the ball, with two lines of four players pushing right up on Millwall’s defence.

But the Lions were disciplined, not losing their shape despite the constant interchanging of positions in the visiting side.

With 10 minutes left Wallace released O’Brien in the box with Lee Gregory and Bradshaw racing in to give the winger an option, but Leeds cleared the low cross, Millwall frustrated at not being given a corner.

There was then a confrontation in the technical area as several players got involved and Bielsa pointed angrily at Millwall assistant boss Dave Livermore.

Seconds later, Harrison picked up possession 25 yards out to beat Amos.

There were dramatic scenes in injury-time when another substitute Elliott hit the post from Wallace’s cross.

Millwall laid siege to the Leeds goal, and had chances to win it through Elliott and, finally, Wallace, whose shot deflected away.

Verdict

This was much, much more like it from Millwall.

They were back to being the difficult team to play against that they were in the last four months of last season.

Amos justified Harris’ decision with two brilliant saves, while Leonard can be pleased with a display full of energy and discipline and a hand – literally – in the goal.

Millwall got right under their opponent’s skin, and even after the final whistle you couldn’t take your eyes off it as Harris made his way to the Leeds bench and had to be pulled away by Livermore and coach Adam Barrett.

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)