CREWE ALEXANDRA 0 MILLWALL 1
Two minutes deep into overtime yesterday and new signing Jason Price was right for the Lions with his close range winner. A crucial score that keeps the Lions on course for a huge second place showdown with Peterborough on Easter Monday - and which provoked frenzy on the terraces of travelling Millwall supporters. Some coming down onto the pitch in excitement as Price celebrated in old school fashion.
Yesterday’s Millwall line up:
GK – Forde - 7
DR – Dunne – 7.5
DC – Craig - 7
DC – Whitbread - 8
DL – Frampton - 7
MR – Henry - 7
MC- Bolder - 7
MC – Laird - 7
ML – Martin - 7
SC – Alexander – 7.5
SC – Harris [inj - Price 45+3] – 6.5
Sub – Price – 7
Everyone’s favourite away ground, Gresty Road has a pleasant – almost non-league – feel about it. Leaving aside the large Air Products stand along one side, the rest of the ground could quite happily fit into Blue Square league football without a second glance. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course. Far from it, in fact it’s a nostalgic reminder of what football is losing with the rise of the soulless McStadiums across of all of the divisions. Character and local identity I think it’s called.
The first half yesterday saw Millwall take control of the game from early on. Though without ever really threatening any clear cut-chances. Back to 4-4-2 we might have been to accommodate hat trick hero Neil Harris, but the same faults (and strengths) of the current Jackett squad were on show again. As early as the 6th minute, Bomber wasted one of the few open chances of the game, hitting inches wide of the right post on a break forward – this from a James Henry pass.
On 14 another long ball over the top of the Alex defence again allowed Harris to break forward, his pace just not being up to the task though as he was edged off the ball at the decisive moment. A weak shot by the *19 at the Lions goal – easily saved by Forde – being the Crewe reply in the same minute.
Despite large slices of possession, the Lions were not able to smear much jam on the bread and shots on goal were few and far between. A Dave Martin effort from outside the box on 18 wasn’t a serious effort, though a Harris volley from some 25 yards out on 26 minutes went close to the left post. Excellent work by the always threatening Henry on 27 saw his right sided cross flash across goal. And a decent headed 1/2 between Bomber and Gary Alexander almost allowed a clear chance on 29.
In the 34th minute Marc Laird fired over the bar from a central free kick some 30 yards out - before the best chance of the half went begging on 36. A right sided corner from James Henry giving Bomber a clear and unchallenged header at the near post – his glancing header going well wide though.
The half closed with what looked like a worrying head injury to Neil on 45. Looking on, it seemed that he was knocked out cold. Jason Price entering the fray as his replacement with just seconds left on the clock.
The second half began with Crewe looking brighter, though never more than scrappy. A James Henry shot over the crossbar on 47 was followed by a long-range effort by the *38 a minute later. Alex had obviously been given the hair dryer treatment at half time, as they looked to press the Lions back in this early phase.
The second clear chance of the game though fell to David Martin on 57. A right sided corner cross from Henry falling to him on the left side of the Alex penalty area – only for his power shot to crash against the crossbar and away. A few minutes later, a 61st minute flick on from Price to Alexander was then sent just wide as the game started to open out.
On 66 the *30 shot over the Millwall bar from a long throw and the same player made another good effort from close on 70 – Forde parrying his tight angled shot away very well though.
Yellow cards for Alexander and Bolder from the fussy referee provoked much ribald comment about his portly frame from the Lions support. Thankfully he didn’t take it to heart though as he waved away a Crewe penalty shout on 73 as the *20 went flying (diving?) with Andy Frampton in close attendance.
Millwall though continued to search for the winner. An Alexander shot across goal on 79 was followed moments later by Price. Who almost released him again with a flick header into his path. From the resulting corner, Price was again in the mix with a header wide.
A long range shot by the *6 on 81 followed at the Lions end - then a Tony Craig head over the Crewe bar on 85 saw the game build to its dramatic denouement. A clear shot on goal by the *38 in the 90th minute had Forde making a match winning save before the killer blow on 90+2 by Price. David Martin’s cross finding the afro haired new boy in front of goal – and he made no mistake from close for 1-0. Cue scenes of wild eyed hysteria on the Millwall terraces and one or two spillages on to the pitch in a 1930s style celebration. Quite why Sky Sports News made that worthy of mention last night I don’t know. It was excitement and nothing malicious - perhaps because they are manipulative cnuts is my best guess.
Choosing a man of the match is difficult from yesterday because the whole side was solid, strong and united. Twist my arm and I’ll go for Zak Whitbread – with mentions in despatches for Dunne, Alexander and Price.
Tuesday night then and – to coin a football cliché – every game is huge now. If we can collect on the game in hand, then the home match against the Posh on April 13th will be a season’s turning point. My message to the Millwall support? Come on down…