MILLWALL lost for just the second time in nine games as George Byers’ first-half goal was enough to give Swansea three points at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Swansea scored the only goal in the 42nd minute when Byers’ fired in at the second attempt after Bersant Celina’s corner.
Jordan Archer had sprung high to his left to save Matt Grimes’ 34th-minute free-kick as Swansea controlled possession before the break.
Swans goalkeeper Erwin Mulder produced two smart saves early in the second half to deny Mahlon Romeo and then Jed Wallace.
Substitute Shane Ferguson cleared Celina’s effort off the line before a Swansea replacement, Oli McBurnie, fired just wide with a minute left.
Millwall had a late chance to level, but after Shaun Hutchinson flicked on Ferguson’s corner Jake Cooper couldn’t apply the finish from a yard out at the back post.
Swansea had been marginally the better side in the first half but didn’t have to do a great deal to go in front. Ben Thompson made a couple of darting runs and Ben Marshall fired well over from 30 yards after the hosts had gone in front.
The Lions began the second half with far more attacking intent, Romeo’s positioning well up the pitch when Millwall had the ball a sign of that.
But they couldn’t really get those free-kicks and corners and thereby get Cooper and Hutchinson into the game as attacking weapons. That pair combined late, but the result eluded their side.
Millwall needed that extra bit of quality, someone to thread through that final pass. Swansea had more of those players, and ultimately that class was the difference.
Neil Harris named the same Millwall side for the third consecutive league game, with Marshall and Wallace supporting lone striker Lee Gregory.
Swansea made three changes: Daniel James, Wayne Routledge and Courtney Baker-Richardson starting in place of Nathan Dyer, McBurnie and Jay Fulton.
Millwall: 4-4-1-1: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace (Ferguson, 46); J Wallace, Leonard, Williams (Morison, 74), Marshall (O’Brien, 84); Thompson; Gregory.
Subs: Martin, Pearce, Tunnicliffe, Onyedinma.
Swansea: 4-2-3-1: Mulder; Roberts, van der Hoorn, Carter-Vickers, John (Naughton, 60); Grimes, Byers; James, Celina, Routledge (Fulton, 94); Baker-Richardson (McBurnie, 70).
Subs: Nordfeldt, Dyer, Asoro, McKay.
Archer was at full stretch in the fourth minute to beat away Byers’ shot. The midfielder would make the breakthrough later.
Thompson played off Gregory up front and in the 17th minute weaved through two attempted tackles before his left-footed shot was half-blocked and Mulder gathered.
Swansea centre-back Mike van der Hoorn headed over from Grimes’ corner after he had been left unmarked six yards out.
The Swans probed with their passing, attempting to shift their opponents around the pitch. Thompson dropped in the help his midfield as both sides looked more likely to score from set-pieces. Grimes curled a direct free-kick from 25 yards towards the top corner but Archer read it well and then did the requisite to palm it behind.
Archer could do little to prevent the Swans from going 1-0 up. Hutchinson initially blocked Byers’s shot from the edge of the box, but the midfielder had a second bite and his next effort found the far corner.
Lions boss Harris brought off Murray Wallace at half-time with Ferguson slotting in at left-back.
Romeo flashed a 25-yard volley well over just after the break and five minutes later was forward again to drive towards the near post and force Mulder into a save low to his left.
Mulder was again required to rescue his side when Wallace lashed in a volley that was headed for the roof of the net.
At the other end a lovely Swansea move almost saw them add a second, Wayne Routledge's flick giving Celina a chance but off balance he shot wide.
Millwall were winning the ball back higher up the pitch and Mulder was a busier goalkeeper as he gathered Thompson’s snap-shot at the second attempt.
The visitors continued to force Swansea back and commit more players forward, but though Ferguson produced two good crosses in the opening 20 minutes of the second period there was a lack of players in the box.
Harris obviously felt the same and Steve Morison was next on, replacing Shaun Williams – moments after Swans sub McBurnie had flashed a header just wide from Byers’ cross.
Ferguson has been one of the Lions’ best attacking players in the last few months, but he showed his defensive anticipation in the 76th minute to hack Celina’s effort off the line.
Archer was booked for a foul on James outside the box before the goalkeeper saved another Grimes free-kick. McBurnie was just off target before Hutchinson produced a brilliant clearance in injury-time.
There was one more chance for Millwall, Hutchinson climbing highest in Swansea’s box and it looked like finally Millwall would force the ball in, but this time in a prolific season for him, Cooper’s finishing let him down.
Image: Millwall FC