REPORT: Millwall 0-2 Birmingham City

RYAN Leonard was sent off as Millwall conceded in each half to end November without a win.

Birmingham went in front in the 11th minute when Che Adams’ shot came back off the post before hitting James Meredith and going in.

Millwall were reduced to 10 men in the 30th minute when Leonard, who had already been booked, was given a second yellow card for a challenge on Maikel Kieftenbeld.



Garry Monk’s side doubled their lead in the 76th minute as Michael Morrison slammed in from close range despite the best efforts of Jake Cooper on the line to keep the ball out.

Verdict

Millwall will be without Leonard for Sunday’s game at Bristol City. If Ryan Tunnicliffe replaces him it will be his first league start since September 1.



You had to feel sorry for Shane Ferguson, who was the one taken off after Leonard’s dismissal. Ferguson had waited a long time for his first-team chance and has been one of Millwall’s better players this season.

Lions fans responded to their team’s positive play as they pressed back a complacent looking Blues side. There could be no doubting Millwall’s fight and it was hard to blame them for often leaving it two versus two at the back as they played a game full of risk.

Jed Wallace was everywhere, as he played with a five-a-side street spirit attempting to haul his side back into it.

But it feels like the setbacks are happening so frequently now and so it was again when Shaun Hutchinson had to go off with a head injury and soon after Millwall went two goals down Lee Gregory went off appearing to feel his stomach area.

The November results summary says no wins in four and three defeats, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Millwall’s luck seems to be out in so many ways this season.

December, like last season, will be a pivotal month.

First half

Steve Morison started for the first time since September 29, Jordan Archer kept his place in goal and Mahlon Romeo replaced Conor McLaughlin.

After conceding in the 12th minute against Bolton at the weekend, the Lions were behind a minute earlier here. Adams beat Hutchinson on the left after the defender had slipped and fired low past Archer. There was little Meredith could do to get out of the way of the ball.

The visitors had a chance to go two up in the 26th minute when Jacques Maghoma found Lukas Jutkiewicz but he shot wide of the near post.

Leonard had been booked for a late tackle on Adams to prevent a breakaway, and the midfielder needed to be careful, but he gave referee Scott Duncan the opportunity to produce a second yellow card when he went in strongly Kieftenbeld, who stayed down. There was an immediate tactical rejig when Tunnicliffe came on in a 4-3-2 formation.

Archer was forced into action in the 37th minute when Maghoma collected a bouncing ball after a corner and poked towards goal.

Millwall actually kept the ball better after going down to 10 men, with Romeo pushing on as an auxiliary right winger and Wallace on the left a player in a rush to make something happen. Millwall didn’t test Blues goalkeeper Lee Camp before the break, though.

Second half

Two minutes after the break Maghoma took on Romeo before crossing for Adams whose shot deflected off Cooper and Archer saved low to his left.

Millwall then had their first two efforts on goal when Camp pushed out Wallace’s free-kick and saved Cooper’s follow-up.

The home fans wanted a penalty when Gary Gardner’s arm was up and close to the ball following a Millwall corner. Birmingham had stepped off the pace since the red card.

Blues attacks were rare, but in the 68th minute Hutchinson had to be at his best with Jutkiewicz closing in behind to flick the ball away from danger.

Millwall were spilling blood for their cause – literally as Hutchinson was forced off with a wound near his eye. The home side were briefly down to nine men before Murray Wallace replaced the Lions vice-captain, Blues effectively sealed the game and then Gregory departed all within five minutes.

Millwall fought valiantly to the end, but couldn’t find any reward.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)