By Jake Sanders
SHANE Ferguson came off the bench and scored two late wonder goals as Millwall came from behind to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Hull City.
Jon Toral had put the visitors ahead just seven minutes after the interval, but the Northern Ireland midfielder took centre stage to complete an unlikely late turnaround.
The victory was Millwall's seventh in their last eight home games in this competition – the 2-2 draw with League One side Rochdale last January the exception – and sees them progress into the fourth round for the third successive year.
Despite the hectic Christmas and New Year period, Neil Harris opted to make just two changes from Tuesday's win at Ipswich Town and handed a debut to Alex Pearce – who joined from Derby County on loan until the end of the season earlier last week. Jiri Skalak also started in place of Ferguson, who dropped to the bench.
Millwall enjoyed all of the early possession, but neither side managed to register an attempt on target in an uneventful opening 20 minutes.
Toral sent over a teasing corner, but former Tottenham and Liverpool defender Kevin Stewart could only glance wide of the far post.
That half-chance seemed to wake up the Lions and they created a bunch of opportunities in a crazy five-minute spell.
First, Tom Elliott knocked down for Aiden O'Brien, but he could only drill wide from the left-hand side of the penalty area.
Moments later, Millwall had an even better chance. Pearce's header from Ryan Leonard's corner was cleared off the line and then George Long produced a stunning save from O'Brien's headed rebound and the Tigers just about survived.
And then the Lions came even closer to breaking the deadlock on 32 minutes. Jed Wallace picked out Elliott in the box, but he was unable to adjust his feet and couldn't convert from close range.
Amongst all of those opportunities, Hull did have one of their own, but Jordan Archer did well to keep out Todd Kane's powerful effort from an angle.
O'Brien attempted to flick home just before the break, but his ambitious effort could only find the side netting rather than the back of the net.
But just seven minutes into the second period Hull took the lead. Nouha Dicko found space on the right and crossed for Toral, who simply poked past Archer.
The visitors could have doubled their lead less than two minutes later, but Dicko couldn't keep his header down after he was wonderfully picked out by Eric Lichaj in the box.
Up the other end, O'Brien had his umpteenth chance of the afternoon but was unable to score the goal his performance warranted. Wallace was once again the provider, but the Republic of Ireland attacker couldn't prod home and Long saved.
With 25 minutes to go, Harris decided to make a triple substitution in an attempt to turn the game around and introduced Ferguson, Shaun Williams – who returned after more than a month out with an ankle injury – and Steve Morison.
And Millwall's captain nearly had an instant impact. He put Wallace in the clear with only a defender to beat, but his frustrating afternoon continued as the deflection took the sting out of his effort and Long comfortably claimed.
Wallace then set up another chance for O'Brien, but he could only strike the post. But the Lions didn't have to wait long to restore parity as Ferguson cut inside after a short corner and found the top corner with a delicious curling effort.
And just three minutes later Ferguson was at it again. Leonard was fouled just outside the box and Ferguson stepped up and curled another fine strike into the top right-hand corner.
Elliott had a great chance to make the game safe, but couldn't convert Wallace's pull-back, choosing to take a touch rather than striking first time.
Millwall, then, are through the fourth round for the third successive season for the first time since 2004 – when they went on to reach the final.
Image: Millwall FC