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Millwall 3-0 Scunthorpe ~ Match Report

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A cold snap, a bit of snow, a late kick off against Scunthorpe and to boot, the bandits at SKY decide to televise the game so it should really have added up to a packed Den with hordes of fans salivating in anticipation of a feast of footballing fun served up by two teams with scores to settle and feuds to finish.

Yeah, OK, it was always going to be a bit of a non event, a bit like a visit to a maiden aunt recovering from gout whose pet cat has a severe case of pyorrhoea and a penchant for licking your nose.

But for some of us it was always going to be business as usual and the cold, wind swept seats at the Den would never be forfeited for a warm seat in front of a TV and the monotonous ramblings of Don Goodman who is to co commentating what Sepp Blatter is to an England world cup bid.

Scunthorpe and Lindsey United, no less, as the 1950’s supplement to the match day programme informed us, were formed by the amalgamation of the two names for reasons the Gods of football alone know, Scunthorpe do have some claims to fame and anyone from the third largest town in Lincolnshire will happily recite that Keegan, Clemence and Botham have all worn their rather odd colours at one time or another.

I always recall Spike Milligan when Scunthorpe is mentioned. He once published a book called “Indefinite articles and Scunthorpe” which caused much consternation and anger amongst the locals as they didn’t want the town’s name to be included in a humorous book. Milligan responded with a rather terse statement, "We should like the people of Scunthorpe to know that the references to Scunthorpe are nothing personal. It is a joke, as is Scunthorpe"

Marvellous stuff...
Me and MrsB set off in the Bonemobile, made a detour to Arments and got to the ground about an hour before the kick off and the place was pretty much deserted, as was expected.

It actually wasn’t as cold as you might have expected though and in fact it was positively balmy at times and the sparsely populated Den did enough to generate a decent enough atmosphere, all things considered.

We had the added “bonus” of a bunch of freebies in part of the north stand and 162 Scunny fans scattered about in the reduced away enclosure it was about as surreal as it gets but nevertheless Mr Jackett had named a starting eleven that surprisingly omitted fit again new loanie cum permie McQuoid who could only make the bench.

So we lined up as follows, Forde, Barron, Shittu, Robbo, Dunne, Henry, Abdou, Mkandawire, Puncheon, Morison and Andrew.

Referee Booth waited patiently for the nod from the SKY director and got the game going and we started brightly enough as Scunthorpe adopted a sort of 4-3-3 ish type of line up which suited us fine.

We had much of the ball and dominated the early exchanges but didn’t really get inside and beyond their back seven until Barron latched onto a through ball by Morison but went down under a heavy, unpunished challenge and then we had a typical run from the flank from Morison that saw the striker attempt an ambitious close range toe poke that beat the keeper and, unfortunately, the far post and then a woeful shot from Henry that threatened the corner flag rather than the goal but it was emphasising our dominance over a Scunthorpe side that looked ready to crumble at a moment’s notice.

Murphy in the visitors goal had already been pressurised by Morison with his kicking, the Lions man again proving he is quite the master at anticipating a clearance by blocking an earlier kick, so on about the twenty five minute mark he must’ve been quite pleased with his distance on yet another hoof out of defence. But the ball was deflected off Robbo and fell to Shittu who hit a short diagonal ball to Henry who collected well and drove into their half and headed onwards towards goal.

The Scunthorpe defence for some strange reason backed off and backed off and Henry kept going and found himself in shooting range and he let fly with considerable aplomb and the ball flew past the despairing dive of Murphy and into the bottom corner of the net. 1-0! The 8,000 odd home fans roared their approval and no doubt the other 40,000 watching at home did likewise...

The proverbial floodgates did not, however, fall open after this breakthrough but we did have a huge majority of possession but just before the half time whistle we really should’ve been two up when persistence from Morison saw him clip over a weighted cross that found Andrew unmarked but the ball was either fractionally high or Andrew was fractionally short with his leap but the ball ended up just going over the bar.

Speaking of things going over, the half time entertainment arrived early when two scantily clad females in the Scunthorpe section decided to run down the stairs to the kiosks but one of then went arse over tits much to the merriment of all who saw it. I hope she was alright as we never did see her return...

The second half arrived after precision commercial breaks had been inserted by the Gruppenführer directing operations at SKY and we were under way once again and this time we had a chance to welcome (and opinionate) our new strike partner for Morison, Josh McQuoid. Andrew was the man replaced and we waited in anticipation to see what the new lad had to offer.

One thing he did do which was quite comical was to actually out jump their 6’ 7” central defender, Jones, and win a header and add that to his enthusiasm and endeavour and I for one am hopeful that he might well be the partner that Morison deserves.

The tone of the game did not change and it was all about our dominance and Scunthorpe’s dogged determination to keep us at bay. Mkandawire, looking more and more the bargain of recent years came close with a header from a Puncheon corner and then we almost had the dream debut goal from McQuoid who made himself some space in the six yard box and just failed to direct his header on target from a delightful cross from Morison.

We then had Dunne basically showing off to the camera’s by bursting through all and sundry and going for glory instead of passing to the three waiting team mates and ended up blasting the ball into the side netting.

We had the customary scare when Thompson collected the ball about four yards offside and the dopey lino missed it but Shittu pounded after him and basically put the fear of God into him before calmly dealing with the danger.

This episode emphasised how vulnerable our lead was and the second goal was now a ‘must have’ to allay our fears and worries. With about ten minutes remaining we got our wish. Morison collected the ball in his now familiar position just to the left of centre and he turned his marker beautifully.

The race was now on and Morison easily outstripped the pursuing Scunthorpe man and then as he made his way towards goal he jinked past the behemoth that is Jones and as he made it to the bye line we were screaming at him to square it to McQuoid but Morison knew exactly what he was going to do and from an impossible angle he drilled the ball past Murphy at his near post and into the net. 2-0! Party time, game over, thank you very much!

The relief was felt throughout the ground between fans and players alike and the acceptance from the visitors was palpable. They were beaten and they knew it and if they needed any more indication it came five minutes later as more Millwall pressure saw Morison head the ball forward to McQuoid who, although beaten to the ball caused the defender to head it straight back into Morison’s path and he steadied himself and hit a sweet shot from the edge of the box that rifled into the back of the net. 3-0! Fantastic stuff.

Schofield came on for Puncheon to run the clock down and he almost got a fourth after a neat little run through the left side of their defence but 3 was enough for one late afternoon’s work and as the final whistle went the mood was pretty upbeat from the Lions fans who had made the effort to turn up.

So all in all a very gratifying performance and I don’t really subscribe to the point of view that Scunthorpe were absolute pony. If we play in the same vein for the rest of this season we will win more than we lose regardless of the opposition and how satisfying was it to see Morison back amongst the goals?

So now we go back on our travels and Friday night football is on the agenda with a trip to Swansea in the offing and Lord help me I can’t wait for it...

See you all there?
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