MURRAY Wallace scored the winner for the second consecutive round to send Millwall into their fourth FA Cup quarter-final this century after a hard-fought win over AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow.
Joe Pigott hit the post in the third minute but Millwall were ahead two minutes later when Wallace headed home Ryan Leonard’s cross.
Aiden O’Brien and Leonard had chances to extend the lead after the break, but Dons goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was equal to their efforts.
Millwall didn’t make it easy for themselves, but can look forward to Monday night’s draw.
Millwall were given the tight-stadium, lower-league-side treatment at Kingsmeadow – but just about survived.
They’ve reached the last eight for the second time in three years, and with the way the competition has been shorn of so many of the bigger top-flight sides they could have a real chance of another Wembley appearance.
Wallace was again the match-winner, another Millwall player writing himself into the club’s illustrious history in this competition.
But though Millwall scored in the first half they didn’t go on and impose themselves properly on a side bottom of League One for the rest of the opening period. It was only when Tom Elliott came on against his former club that they looked like a team in a division above. Lee Gregory had shouldered so much of the attacking burden, but too often after he had produced typically excellent first touches Millwall then lost possession in the next phase.
With Elliott’s presence there was better retention of possession and more chances for Millwall’s midfielders to get forward. Leonard and Shaun Williams both saw efforts saved by Aaron Ramsdale.
It could have been a lot different had Pigott’s early effort crept inside the post, but Neil Harris’ side deserved their victory.
Shane Ferguson replaced the cup-tied Ben Marshall and Alex Pearce partnered Jake Cooper in the centre of defence. Shaun Hutchinson and Elliott – the latter who has recovered fitness after a dislocated shoulder – were in the bench after both were ill this week.
Archer; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, M Wallace; J Wallace, Leonard, Williams, Ferguson; O’Brien (Elliott 63), Gregory (Hutchinson, 93).
Subs: Martin, Hutchinson, Skalak, Tunnicliffe, Morison, Hanson.
The hosts made a bright start and Pigott saw his flicked effort at the near post from Shane McLoughlin’s cross come back off the woodwork.
In the fifth minute the Dons initially cleared from Millwall’s corner, before Leonard returned the ball into the box and Wallace nodded in his fourth goal this season.
On 25 minutes Michael Folivi collected a throw-in and the parting of the Millwall defence invited a shot, but the forward dragged a low effort wide.
The Dons were on top, the Lions’ case not helped by some errant kicking from Jordan Archer. Twice the goalkeeper planted goal-kicks out of play.
The hosts were enjoying a good spell of pressure, Toby Sibbick’s cross taking a touch and going out for a corner off the bar.
In the 32nd minute Sibbick again found space on the right to cross to Deji Oshilaja who was stretching as he headed well off target.
Millwall quietened the home side with a spell of good possession football, trying several avenues of attack before Jed Wallace fired an effort well wide.
Just before the break Wallace crossed from the right to Ferguson whose shot was blocked.
The Dons had been encouraged by their first-half performance, particularly Sibbick, who six minutes after the break was played in again on the right, but this time after cutting inside on his left foot he shot over.
Sibbick was involved again moments later and when the Lions failed to clear the ball broke to Anthony Hartigan on the edge of the box and he curled just wide of Archer’s left-hand post.
The visitors had a great chance to double their lead in the 55th minute when Gregory, after making something from very little, found O’Brien in support but the latter was only able to toe-poke towards goal and Ramsdale got down low to his left to save.
The sides then traded quick chances as Cooper couldn’t find the top corner with a right-footed effort before Folivi’s shot was gathered by Archer.
Gregory needed more help up front, and got it when Elliott – who had been warmly applauded by home fans when he warmed up at the break – came on for O’Brien.
Millwall were now more of a threat up front and, after Ramsdale saved from Williams, Gregory crossed towards Elliott but the striker was fouling the excellent Will Nightingale.
With 10 minutes left Ferguson found Gregory who squared for Leonard, but again Ramsdale sprung low to his left to keep his side within swinging distance.
Winger Wallace had a late chance to get a second, but substitute Michael Pinnock’s tackle denied him.
The Dons had half-chances for an equaliser, but Archer’s goal survived intact.
Image: Millwall FC