MILLWALL lost their last home game this season as Bristol City came from behind to win at The Den on Tuesday night and keep their play-off chances alive.
Lee Gregory fired Millwall in front in the 41st minute with his 13th goal in all competitions this season.
Shaun Williams missed the chance to put Millwall two goals up in the 73rd minute when Robins goalkeeper Max O’Leary saved his penalty, and three minutes later Bristol City levelled through Jamie Paterson’s direct free-kick.
Lee Johnson’s side then went in front when Famara Diedhiou shot past David Martin from 15 yards.
This game turned completely in six second-half minutes.
Millwall were cruising until the 76th minute. Bristol City were abject – but then they got two gifts.
They had to win but that looked unlikely when the usually reliable Williams stood over the ball 12 yards out. O’Leary guessed right, and Williams’ disappointment was compounded when he fouled Matty Taylor at the other end and Paterson completed the punishment.
It was that old attacking double-act that had put Millwall in control. Steve Morison – making his first league start since March 2 – headed down perfectly into his strike partner’s path, and it was a typical Gregory finish on the turn.
Morison also found Gregory before he was fouled by O’Leary, and again to set up a spectacular overhead kick for the Lions’ leading scorer this season.
Bristol City were so poor for the majority of the game. Until they scored they rarely looked like getting anything from it. Their plight seemed to be summed up when first-half substitute Eros Pisano was taken off in the 62nd minute, attacker Taylor coming on.
Taylor played his part, as Millwall were left wondering how they left this one slip, the consolation that it won't cost them this season.
Three under-23 players were named in the match-day squad: Jesse Debrah and George Alexander – who were in the squad against Everton – and Billy Mitchell. Debrah is a left-back, Alexander a striker, and Mitchell is a tough midfielder who scored a 30-yard wonder goal against Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup here this season.
Martin; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, Meredith (McLaughlin, 78); Tunnicliffe, Leonard, Williams (Elliott, 87), Ferguson; Morison, Gregory.
Subs: Amos, McLaughlin, Elliott, Skalak, Debrah, Mitchell, Alexander.
It was a game with little intensity, very little quality for most of the first half – until the contest was finally energised in the five minutes before the break.
Until then it had been dire.
Chances had been few. Paterson cut in from the left in the 15th minute but Martin dived low to his left to save.
Seven minutes later Mahlon Romeo’s superb tackle in the box prevented Andreas Weimann getting a shot on goal from Diedhiou’s header down.
Bristol City dominated possession but were doing little with it. Paterson headed well over from Jack Hunt’s cross, before Shane Ferguson had Millwall’s first effort on target, an easy save for O’Leary.
Out of little, the Lions took the lead. Jake Cooper aimed a diagonal ball towards Morison, who nodded it down to Gregory, and it was an excellent finish on the turn to half-volley the ball into the bottom left corner.
Gregory was soon hunting down and taking the ball from Tomas Kalas in the box. Gregory thought he had less time than he had, throwing a shimmy when there was no need and his shot was blocked.
But the striker had a sniff of more goals and he was almost in again before O’Leary raced to the edge of his penalty area to clear.
Millwall went within the width of the post of doubling their lead with Cooper’s header from Ferguson’s corner. Williams was following in but the visitors just managed t0 scramble the ball off a crowded line.
Gregory was involved again in the 56th minute, holding up the ball until Ryan Tunnicliffe arrived in support. Gregory laid the ball into his path, but Tunnicliffe was wider than he would have liked and O’Leary saved his effort with his right boot.
Williams then saw his shot in the box blocked by Adam Webster, before the Irish midfielder struck a free-kick over after substitute Kasey Palmer had been booked for bringing down Tunnicliffe.
Millwall were threatening to overwhelm their opponents. James Meredith sprung forward to find Gregory, who spun and tried an ambitious shot from 25 yards that went over.
A similar combination to the first goal gave Millwall the chance to double their lead, when Cooper's lofted ball was again cleverly headed down by Morison towards Gregory, who got there just before O'Leary and was fouled. Williams aimed low into the bottom left corner but the ball didn’t have sufficient pace and O’Leary had read his intentions.
Three minutes later Martin didn't move as Paterson curled home from 23 yards.
Millwall almost regained the lead in the 80th minute when Morison found Gregory whose bicycle kick was cleared off the line by Kalas.
After Diedhiou had given his side the lead Martin denied Weimann a third, but the visitors had done enough.
Image: Millwall FC