MILLWALL took advantage of a missed Wigan penalty to launch a second-half fightback as Steve Morison scored the winner at The Den on Tuesday night.
Wigan were ahead through Jed Wallace’s own goal, before Shaun Williams and Morison struck to earn Millwall a second win in three league games.
Wallace could have given the hosts the lead but miscued in front of goal, before Wigan defender Reece James went close to breaking the deadlock as his free-kick went just wide.
In first-half injury-time, Lee Evans took a free-kick from the right and the ball hit Wallace before sneaking past Ben Amos at the near post.
Both sides were awarded penalties within 60 seconds in the second half, with Josh Windass blasting his spot-kick over before Williams placed his into the top corner to level in the 59th minute.
And Morison came off the bench to earn his side a well-deserved win with his first goal since April.
First half – Wigan in front at the break without having a shot on target
It wasn’t just the unchanged team that gave the impression we could still have been at Reading watching Millwall pound the opposition goal.
Ryan Leonard hooked a shot wide in the eighth minute, before the midfielder arced a throw that Jake Cooper tried to back-head over Christian Walton, but the 6ft 5ins goalkeeper stretched to catch the ball.
Tom Elliott, who was making his fourth successive start, chested down a long clearance from Amos before trying an ambitious half-volley from 30 yards but failing to test Walton.
Millwall’s best chance arrived in the 27th minute, when four Lions players bore down on three Latics defenders. Wallace had options left before finding Lee Gregory to his right. Gregory returned the ball low towards the Millwall winger, but he seemed to get his feet in a muddle and his mis-hit effort came off Cedric Kipre and Wigan were let off the hook.
But Millwall kept the pressure on and when Evans carelessly gave away the ball deep inside his own half it gave an alert Shane Ferguson the opportunity to size up his options. He choose to shoot from 25 yards, but Walton was well-positioned to stop his curled effort finding the top corner.
Wigan striker James Vaughan might as well have been in a different postcode for all the service he was getting, until he made something out of little to win a free-kick off Cooper on the edge of the box. It was a promising position for James, but he couldn’t find the bottom left corner from the dead ball, fizzing his shot just wide.
Paul Cook’s side were improving, without really troubling Amos. But with the half-time whistle approaching, James Meredith gave away a free-kick. Evans’ ball in wasn’t great, before Wallace tried to intervene only the see the ball flick off him and in. It was unfortunate for Wallace, who had been one of Millwall’s best attacking threats before the break.
Second half – Lions get a change in fortune
Meredith was withdrawn at the break, with Aiden O’Brien coming on and Ferguson moving to left-back.
Vaughan – who scored two goals on his last appearance against Millwall for Bury in the 2016-17 season – raced through on Amos but the stopper made a brave block.
If it was déjà vu in the first half it felt like a bad joke when Mahlon Romeo was penalised for giving away a second penalty in two games. It did appear that he clipped Vaughan, but for the fourth time this season Amos saw an opponent fail to score from the spot.
Amazingly, Millwall went immediately down the other end, and after James had clumsily fouled O’Brien, Williams arrowed his penalty into the top left corner for his fourth club goal of the season.
O’Brien was certainly making an impact, and after he was fouled with 20 minutes left many in the home crowd thought Wallace’s free-kick was in, only for the ball to graze the side-netting.
But Millwall’s persistence paid off, as their second came in brilliant fashion. First Wallace nutmegged Kal Naismith before crossing and Leonard’s shot was blocked. Ferguson regained possession and played a superb one-two with Gregory inside the box before drilling in a low cross that Morison tucked away.
By half-time, in their previous three-and-a-half games, Millwall had conceded seven goals from nine shots on target. The way the ball went on off Wallace summed up their bad luck.
But every season has a few defining moments, and maybe that mad minute around the hour mark is one of them for Millwall – and it was certainly a reversal of recent fortunes.
Ferguson has taken his first-team chance brilliantly, and showed his value as an attacking left-back as his side dominated after the break.
They wouldn’t have deserved to have gone two goals down, and then after the reprieve veterans Williams and Morison clinically took their chances.
There was also a return to action for Shaun Hutchinson as Millwall claimed their third win of the season to move out of the bottom three.
Image: Millwall FC