JED Wallace missed a penalty as Millwall came from behind in an intense London derby against Fulham at The Den on Wednesday night.
Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Fulham the lead in the third minute when he finished Joe Bryan’s cross past Bart Bialkowski.
Millwall were level five minutes later as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson tapped in for his fourth goal of the season.
Wallace had the chance to put the Lions in front in the 22nd minute but missed from the spot after Mahlon Romeo had been fouled by Bryan.
The visitors were denied the win in injury-time when substitute Neeskens Kebano’s header came back off the crossbar.
Hutchinson superb as outstanding defensive performance frustrates Fulham
Millwall had lost their last three league games against Fulham and a 0-0 draw before that meant they hadn’t scored against the Cottagers in 360 minutes of Championship football.
You had to look further into the statistical vault to find the last time the Lions defeated Fulham at home in any competition, 4-3 in the old Division Three in April 1982.
It took only two minutes and 12 seconds for Fulham to set about extending that streak, but less than eight minutes for the Lions to end that scoreless run. Fulham felt Bodvarsson was offside, but replays suggested that the ball may have come off Josh Onomah, and if so rendering Bodvarsson’s position irrelevant. Scott Parker's players felt Tom Bradshaw had hooked the ball through from Shaun Hutchinson's header.
It seemed the goals would continue to flow when the Lions were awarded that penalty, only for Wallace to miss.
Fulham eventually gained supremacy in midfield and that gave them the platform to attack a Millwall defence that remained outstandingly defiant. And not only were there some crucial interceptions, but at one point deep into the second half when Jed Wallace broke and looked for support, it was Hutchinson he found sprinting into the Fulham half and earning a free-kick after gaining possession.
Hutchinson was superb, but his four defensive colleagues were not far behind as Bialkowski only faced two shots on target.
Woods and Molumby work hard to stop Fulham at source
It’s been a well worn-out statistic at this stage. Fulham had 85 per cent possession when these sides met at Craven Park last August, a web of possession built from almost 1,000 completed passes.
But Millwall were determined they wouldn’t be chasing shadows with futility under the Den lights. Ryan Woods and Jayson Molumby were probably more suited to this kind of game anyway than the injured Shaun Williams. Whenever the ball went into midfield in the first half it was like dropping food into a piranha tank. When Woods was snapping at Tom Cairney, Molumby was hassling Onomah.
But it was tough to keep up that intensity and Cairney and Onomah were much more prominent after the break.
Ryan Leonard came on for his first appearance since October to add another girder of support in midfield.
Millwall stayed strong until the end, and earned that bit of luck as the woodwork denied Kebano.
Reliable Jed has rare miss
It had been five from five from the penalty spot for Wallace this season, a perfect record. He looked like he wanted to burst the net but with Marek Rodak diving to his right he could have gently dinked the ball in.
Wallace had been involved in the lead-up to the penalty, finding Romeo who cut inside Bryan and was tripped.
Wallace will have to wait a little longer for his 11th goal of the season.
Fulham took that early lead after working a free-kick short before Bryan crossed left-footed from the right and Mitrovic poked past Bialkowski from six yards.
Bodvarsson brought Millwall level with the goal given after a consultation between referee Andrew Madley and his linesman.
Wallace smashed his penalty down the middle but he put too much elevation on it as the ball clipped the top of the crossbar and flew into a gleeful Fulham end.
Rodak had to backpedal quickly in the 26th minute to prevent Romeo’s mis-hit cross finding the far corner, and then Bodvarsson stretched but couldn’t steer the ball on target from Wallace’s free-kick.
Murray Wallace found his namesake Jed running through the middle but it was a difficult ball to control and it gave Rodak the chance to come off his line and see of the danger.
Mitrovic tested Bialkowski with a fierce low shot in first-half injury-time after Bobby Decordova-Reid’d free-kick had rebounded off the wall.
Fulham began the second half hogging the ball but Millwall were working hard to keep them away from their goal. Aboubakar Kamara slashed a shot wide of the near post with Mitrovic calling for a cross, and then the roles were reversed but it was a different outcome as Romeo’s excellent tackle prevented Bryan getting through.
Millwall were seeing little of the ball but with 14 minutes left Bodvarsson spotted Bradshaw’s run into the inside-left channel and found him, but Rodak saved the striker’s low effort.
Leonard was soon on for the spent Bradshaw as the Lions switched to 5-3-2.
Fulham had that late chance from Ivan Cavaleiro’s corner to Kebano, but it would have been harsh on the hosts.
Millwall boss Rowett made three games to his side after the 2-0 defeat to West Brom here on Sunday.
Alex Pearce returned to the centre of a back five, while Bradshaw and Bodvarsson started in attack.
Millwall: 5-2-3: Bialkowski; Romeo, Hutchinson, Pearce (Smith, 87), Cooper, M Wallace; Molumby, Woods (Skalak, 87); J Wallace, Bradshaw (Leonard, 77), Bodvarsson.
Subs: Steele, Smith, Leonard, O’Brien, Skalak, Mahoney, Ferguson.
Image: Millwall FC