REPORT: Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

MILLWALL are out of the FA Cup after losing 2-0 to Sheffield United at The Den on Saturday.

After a drab first half, Mo Besic gave the Blades the lead when he curled past Bart Bialkwoski from 22 yards in the 63rd minute.

Oliver Norwood added a second in the 84th minute as the away side went through comfortably.

Blades class tells

It was a game of so few chances it always looked like one moment would be enough. Besic provided it, and Norwood added a flourish.

Chris Wilder’s side never allowed Millwall to build up momentum and get the crowd going. The visitors controlled most of the play and didn’t really ever look stretched.

The first half almost had the feel of a friendly at times. There were no big tackles, no moments to give the  home crown something to get behind. Both sides had made five changes to their regular sides and it was all a bit leisurely.

After an early Aiden O’Brien chance, Millwall didn’t really threaten Dean Henderson. Matt Smith was largely starved of service as the hosts rarely worked their way into positions to cross. It was a frustrating and frustrated attacking performance.

Nor did the Lions get many set-piece chances. They had just one corner in 90 minutes.

The Blades defence also didn’t really have to worry about pace in behind until Jed Wallace’s introduction.

But that was too little too late as Norwood fired home from outside the box to end the Lions’ hopes.

Youngsters get cup chance

James Brown’s only other start for Millwall had been in an EFL Trophy game at home to Gillingham in October 2016.

He’s had an up and down time since then, from starting at Celtic for Livingston to returning from a loan spell at Lincoln without playing a game.

Lions boss Gary Rowett rates the defender, who turned 22 earlier this month, so much so that he let Jason McCarthy go on loan to Wycombe.

Brown did not look out of place here, and at one point in the first half produced an excellent tackle on Luke Freeman after Jayson Molumby had given the ball away in midfield.

Billy Mitchell, 18, also showed again he has the mettle to take his chance. Rowett laid down the challenge last week when he talked about picking the younger players: he wanted to see how they would respond to the big occasion, against a side that has pushed Liverpool and Manchester City close in games this season. The pair certainly didn’t show any fear and can be pleased with their afternoon’s work, if not the result.

Match details

AO’Brien had the first chance of the game in the eighth minute when he read the flight of Jake Cooper’s ball over Phil Jagielka, but Henderson got down low to his left to save.

Brown prevented his side from going behind in the 22nd minute when he cleared off the line after Billy Sharp had rounded Bart Bialkowski from Chris Basham’s reverse-pass.

They were the only real chances in the first half an hour with a lot of the play bogged down in a crowded midfield.

In the 39th minute, Jagielka headed over from Norwood’s corner as the visitors looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Kieron Freeman volleyed off-target in the 57th minute as both sides still struggled to create clear chances.

Two minutes later O’Brien had the whiff of an opportunity as a loose ball broke to him in the box, but Jagielka blocked.

It took something special to open the scoring, as Besic curved a shot into Bialkowski’s right corner just after the hour.

It was another shot into the other corner that finally ended the contest as Norwood finished another smart Blades move.

Bialkwoski denied Leon Clarke and Sharp late on but there were few positives on a disappointing afternoon.

Team news

Right-back Brown, 22, started just his second senior game for Millwall, and first since October 2016.

Mitchell was in midfield in place of the suspended Shaun Williams and cup-tied Ryan Woods, one of five changes for the Lions.

Millwall: Bialkowski; Brown, Pearce, Cooper, M Wallace; Mahoney (J Wallace, 73), Mitchell, Molumby, Ferguson (Bradshaw, 71); Smith (Bodvarsson, 71), O'Brien.

Subs: Sandford, Hutchinson, J Wallace, Romeo, Bradshaw, Skalak.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly