REPORT: Millwall 0-2 West Brom

MILLWALL lost for just the third time at The Den in the league this season as West Brom went four points clear at the top of the Championship.

The Baggies dominated the majority of the contest and scored in each half through Filip Krovinovic and Dara O’Shea.

Callum Robinson played in Matheus Pereira in the fourth minute but the shot rebounded off the right post and into Bart Biakowski’s hands.

That set the tone and West Brom took the lead in the 43rd minute when Krovinovic curled home from the edge of the box.

And the away side wrapped up the points six minutes from time when O’Shea headed in Kamil Grosicki’s corner at the near post.

Millwall unusually loose at the back

When Hal Robson-Kanu somehow scooped the ball over the bar from two yards out early in the second half, it was already the Baggies’ 13th attempt on goal.

The previous night Leeds had matched a season-low one shot on target at Nottingham Forest, the same number they managed at Millwall in October.

The Lions have built their promising season on being tight in defence, but West Brom got through them with so much ease time and time again.

The conditions would have seemed to suit Millwall, who started with Matt Smith up front, but it was Slaven Bilic’s side that prospered.

The visitors had too much class on the ball, players blessed with the technical skill to make the wind, rain and muddy pitch minor inconveniences to the way they wanted to play. Then they also had the defensive organisation and fortitude to rebuff any Millwall attempts from set-pieces.

Millwall didn’t match their opponents in any facet, and O’Shea punished their poor marking from a corner late on.

Ireland midfielder given advanced position – but Lions lack attacking coherence 

Jayson Molumby started the game playing off centre-forward Smith and showed some nice touches in difficult conditions early on. But any attacking impetus quickly faded and Millwall couldn't pick holes in a disciplined and physical away defence.

Ryan Leonard is back in training, though didn’t make the match-day squad, but Gary Rowett now has several ways to make up his midfield. Ryan Woods was most often the deepest here, allowing Molumby and Shaun Williams to get forward in support of the front players.

But it was a struggle for Millwall to create anything and Sam Johnstone had a comfortable afternoon.

The Lions look like they need an injection of energy. Perhaps Leonard and Mason Bennett, the latter also not in today’s squad, can give it to them.

Otherwise Millwall’s season is in danger of petering out.

Match details

West Brom had two early opportunities to go in front when Semi Ajayi shot over at the back post from a corner and then Pereira’s strike came off the post.

The hosts had their first shot on target in the 22nd minute when Johnstone pushed away Jed Wallace’s 35-yard free-kick.

Wallace then shot over from an angle on the right eight yards out after Mahlon Romeo’s attempt had been blocked.

Kyle Bartley almost profited in the 26th minute when Shaun Hutchinson missed a clearance kick, but the Baggies centre-back’s stabbed effort went just wide of the near post.

Seven minutes later Bialkowski got down low to his left to save from Robson-Kanu after Pereira had played in the striker.

Bialkowski palmed away Pereira’s long-range effort three minutes before the break but moments later the goalkeeper couldn’t keep out Krovinovic’s curled effort from 22 yards.

The Baggies continued to threaten and a minute before the break Jake Cooper produced a brilliant tackle to prevent Robson-Kanu from testing Bialkowski.

Four minutes into the second half West Brom had a glorious chance to go two goals up but Robson-Kanu scooped over an open goal from two yards.

Robinson saw his shot deflect wide five minutes later as West Brom easily created good chances.

Bialkowski was forced into another save to keep out Krovinovic’s shot, after the Lions had given away the ball cheaply in midfield.

Millwall had a penalty claim in the 58th minute when Wallace’s free-kick appeared to hit Robinson’s raised arm. West Brom went down the other end and Bialkowski was called upon again to save Pereira’s shot at the near post.

Rowett sent on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Connor Mahoney a minute later but it did little to reverse the flow of the game, most of it towards Bialkowski’s goal.

One of West Brom’s substitutes, Matt Phillips, was next to have a go as he cut inside Murray Wallace on the right but shot over.

Jed Wallace shot straight at Johnstone from Tom Bradshaw’s neat flick inside, but it seemed only a matter of time before West Brom scored again. O’Shea popped up with the second, as the Baggies stretched their lead over Leeds.

Millwall: 4-3-3: Bialkowski; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace; Molumby, Williams (Bradshaw, 77), Woods; J Wallace, Smith (Bodvarsson, 59), O’Brien (Mahoney, 59).

Subs: Steele, Pearce, Mahoney, Skalak, Ferguson.

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly