REPORT: Millwall 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

JIRI Skalak scored his first goal for Millwall to rescue a point against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Skalak fired home in the 83rd minute after former Millwall defender Mark Beevers had given the visitors a 12th-minute lead.

The returning Jordan Archer made a superb double-stop to deny Will Buckley and then Jason Lowe before Beevers headed home.



Beevers later denied Millwall an equaliser when he headed off the line in first-half injury-time.

The Lions equalised seven minutes from time when Skalak drilled a low shot into the far corner after Jed Wallace’s cross had come off a Bolton defender.

Verdict



If Millwall were initially buoyed by Archer’s early saves – though how open they were was a worry – a goal by their former player Beevers and then an injury to Tom Elliott made it a miserable first half.

The club was already having to look for a replacement for Tom Bradshaw, but Elliott’s injury and the absence of Steve Morison from the match-day squad meant they had gone from four fit strikers to one in the space of three weeks.

Without the option of going long to a target man Millwall had to find a different way to break down Bolton. Bolton funnelled players back and Millwall didn’t move the ball quickly enough to move them from their shape.

It was from a cross that they finally forced a leveller, and with his first touch Skalak scored for the first time since April 2016 in Brighton’s 3-1 win at Charlton.

But despite the late goal it was a frustrating day at The Den, the performance of Archer one of the few positives. That gives Neil Harris a tough call to make on Wednesday against Birmingham, when Ben Amos becomes available again.

First half

Archer made his first appearance since August 26 and Harris recalled James Meredith at left-back instead of Murray Wallace.

Archer’s first save in the eighth minute to deny Buckley in a one-on-one was impressive enough but his second, as he was just getting back to his feet, to tip Lowe’s follow-up onto the bar, was outstanding and a reminder of his undoubted talent.

But he didn’t have much chance four minutes later when Beevers stooped at the far post to head in off the woodwork in the opposite corner, just his second goal in his last 63 games.

The game was held up in the 23rd minute when referee Lee Swabey – who had already been announced as a replacement for Tony Harrington before kick-off – limped off the pitch. After a three-minute delay, the game had its third referee.

Shaun Williams went close to an equaliser in the 30th minute as his effort from 25 yards went just wide with Ben Alnwick beaten.

Millwall were then dealt a blow in the 37th minute when just after clearing a corner Elliott went down and then had to go off, Aiden O’Brien coming on to partner Lee Gregory up front.

In first-half added-time Gregory span past Beevers to cross for Ryan Leonard whose shot was saved by Alnwick. O’Brien followed up and Alnwick also blocked his effort before the ball spun off the attacker and Beevers somehow headed away from right under the crossbar.

Second half

After Leonard was dispossessed deep in his own half Lowe had another chance to score, but Archer again came out on top in that personal duel with a save down to his right.

Harris sent on Mahlon Romeo for Conor McLaughlin in the 61st minute in a bid to inject more pace into Millwall’s attacking play, which was too slow against a tightly-packed Bolton defence.

It took Millwall until the 64th minute to have another effort on goal as Gregory stretched but could only toe the ball straight at Alnwick.

Bolton were being made look far too comfortable for a team that hadn’t won in seven games, but they were conceding a lot of territory. Millwall made their final change with 13 minutes left when Skalak came on for Meredith. The move proved one of the few inspired ones of the afternoon as the Czech international ensured his side got a point.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)