MILLWALL 0 COLCHESTER UNITED 1
‘Just watch, we’ll f*ck it up tonight, we won’t score, the crowd will get on their backs and they’ll (Colchester) get a goal with about ten minutes to go. Just watch’
Old Moore’s Almanac has nothing on my Block 3 mate Nostradamus (not his real name) when it comes to predicting the future. I tried hard to laugh off his prophetic words, but after tonight, bloody hell I really wish he’d start calling next week’s lotto numbers …
Tonight’s Millwall line-up:
GK – Forde – 5
DR – Dunne -5
DC – Craig - 5
DC – Whitbread - 5
DL – Frampton - 6
MR – Henry [Grabban 87] - 5
MC – Bolder - 7
MC – Laird – 5.5
ML – Martin - 5
SC – Alexander [inj - Grimes 43] 6
SC – Price 5
Subs – Grimes 5, Grabban n/a
Millwall’s home form defies logical explanation. The same team that produced such a gutsy win at Crewe, two days later plays like a bunch of strangers a speed date. Is it the flat atmosphere at The Den? As against the siege mentality of the away games? Is it something tactical? Are we playing defensive football as plan A, with no plan B for when we’re at home? Is it written in the stars that Venus is colliding with Mars? Fuck knows.
One thing IS for certain, The Den most certainly doesn’t feel like home right now. It feels empty. Like the flat that you’ve moved out of when you’re woman ran off with your mate. The current NOLU carries a few articles about the various stewardgates that have gone on recently, but the number of fans that are telling me they just don’t enjoy the home games any more is worrying…
Tonight’s game was poor with very little to trouble a wannabe journalist in the first half. A close range header by the always brave Gary Alexander on 15 was well saved by the visiting keeper - and four minutes later a Price lay back into his path was deflected over the bar. On 28 a James Henry long range free kick went over the crossbar and three minutes later on 33 a clever Andy Frampton nod back to Craig was bundled away.
The United *9 released the *27 in the 36th minute, his choice to head back across the penalty area rather than at goal though was bizarre. On 38 a Price shot was blocked from an Alexander header, before he was forced to retire from the match on 42 due to injury.
The second half opened with a yellow card for Zak Whitbread for a rash challenge on the *10 – more of frustration than malice I felt. On 49 Frampton released Martin – his shot was not cleanly hit however and was saved by the Colchester keeper.
On 52 the *17 hit a shot from outside the Millwall penalty area – well saved by Forde, then a minute later a Henry cross flew across the United goal. As ever this season though, there was no danger striker to take advantage of the opportunity.
On 62 Ashley Grimes was unable to work space for a clear effort on goal – his shot flying wide. Then on 66 arguably the best Millwall chance of the night was created. A 1-2 pass from a corner releasing Henry – whose shot/cross was palmed away to David Martin only for his return header to go over the bar.
In the 68th minute the *12 drove a long range shot wide of the left post, then on 75 the *11 volleyed wildly over the bar.
As the final ten minutes approached of this poor advert for League One football, the hard truth was that Millwall had not shown any capability of breaking down what was (at best) a basic defensive set-up by Colchester.
The goal came on 83 and was – as you’d expect – a simple affair. The *11 sold Henry (?) a dummy on the left from a corner, whipped in his cross to the *9 – who headed home from close for 0-1. Nostradamus’ sucker punch come true. Only a 90th minute header wide by Craig troubled the Colchester goal as the game petered out to a limp finish.
This house is not a home is of course an old Northern Soul song about the emptiness of a marriage breakdown. And in some ways maybe that is what has happened at Millwall. A breakdown of the relationship between club and the support. How to put humpty dumpty back together again? I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone does. All I do know is that this Lions side looks happier away from the house where love died.
Millwall man of the match? Adam Bolder for me tonight. Always available and always looking to release the front runners. Mention in despatches for Gary Alexander too for his first half work.