REPORT: West Brom 2-0 Millwall

THERE was no respite for Millwall on the road as West Brom scored twice in eight second-half minutes to set up a win at The Hawthorns.

Millwall shaded the first half, Jed Wallace seeing an effort cleared off the line and then Steve Morison testing Sam Johnstone, who saved his low shot.

West Brom went in front with 22 minutes left when Dwight Gayle finished from close range after Ben Amos had saved Ahmed Hegazi’s header.



The hosts quickly made it 2-0 when Kieran Gibbs drove a low shot into the far corner.

First half – Wallace prominent as Millwall make positive start

Byron Webster made his first league start eight days short of a year since his 2017-18 season-ending injury. The 31-year-old centre-back was one of four changes Lions boss Neil Harris made from the 2-0 defeat to QPR in midweek. Jiri Skalak also started his first league game for Millwall, while Mahlon Romeo replaced Conor McLaughlin at right-back and Morison started up front with Tom Bradshaw.



Harris said he got the game plan wrong at Loftus Road, but here it worked before the break. West Brom were slow in their build-up, and largely playing in front of the Lions. It wasn’t easy to see how they were the top scorers in the Championship before the game.

Millwall were far more incisive in the final third, and had a chance to go in front in the 21st minute when Wallace cut in from the right with the ball, and when an attempted pass rebounded to him there was space in front of him in the box, but he shot over.

The Baggies showed they did have the combinations to open Millwall up on the edge of their box, and Jay Rodriguez and Harvey Barnes combined but the latter poked an effort wide.

Moments after Gayle went down in the box and appealed for a penalty, goalkeeper Johnstone gave possession to Wallace, who tried a lob from the right wing and he was on target but Craig Dawson headed off the line.

Seven minutes before the break, Skalak crossed for Morison whose volley was saved low to his left by Johnstone.

Lions stopper Amos really only had two things to do in the opening period, making two safe catches, in wet conditions, from crosses from Matt Phillips and Chris Brunt, the latter hinting at the menace he is capable of from dead balls.

Second half – West Brom move up a gear to clinch win

Darren Moore had clearly ordered more directness from his side after the break, and the hosts started positively as Jake Cooper needed all 6ft 6ins to nod Hegazi’s header off the line.

The contest failed to find a consistent rhythm, punctuated by injuries to Skalak, who was able to continue, and then Phillips, who had to go off, Tyrone Mears coming on.

Baggies left wing-back Gibbs had a chance, though a difficult one, when he ran onto a ball in the box but sliced wide.

West Brom broke the deadlock in the 68th minute. Amos initially did well to save from Hegazi from Brunt's corner, but when the ball dropped in the six-yard area Gayle was well-placed to make it 1-0.

Gibbs then added the second after Millwall failed to clear another cross into the box.

Harris brought on Aiden O’Brien, Lee Gregory and then Tom Elliott as Millwall switched to a 3-4-3 formation, but they couldn’t unlock West Brom, who look like they will be promotion contenders.

Verdict

Millwall needed a response after Loftus Road on Wednesday night and they got it in the first half.

Harris had promised changes and the four he made brought to 15 the total to his starting line-ups in the league this season. At the same stage last season that number was five, though it has been rougher terrain so far this campaign.

Before West Brom scored Millwall were still comfortable, but once it was 2-0 the home side played with a swagger, and ensured it would be a fifth defeat in six league games for the Lions.

Millwall, then, slip into the relegation places for the first time this season, with the next three fixtures – Sheffield United at home, Nottingham Forest away and Aston Villa at home – looking unforgiving.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)