Millwall 0-0 West Ham ~ Match Report

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So, after all the convoluted hyperbole and the raucous claims of who will do what to whom, amid all the hip hooray and the ballyhoo, the day finally arrived when we get to meet and greet our near neighbours from east London to rekindle the hate affair that has been dragging on for what seems like an eternity.

Were you sick of it? Maybe that is putting it a bit too strongly but as the years go rolling by these sort of games tend to amalgamate into a complete nonsense with internet message boards getting swashed with illiterate idle threats and covert messages of what boozers will be surreptitiously opening for early morning drinkies, it all gets a bit tiresome for this tired old hack.

Yes I like the thought of them falling on hard times, struggling to pay bills, Karen “I’m really a bloke” Brady taking a metaphoric pasting up her dirt box but it really shouldn’t be an all consuming passion, should it?

Maybe it is just me(and that wouldn’t be the first time), but nevertheless, it all seems a little bit stage managed at times and I try not to buy into it.

Having said that it still had me eager to get down the Den and find out if all the pre match shenanigans might be justified.

We got parked up and walked towards the ground and naturally the first sight that greeted us was plenty of cozzers on parade. Was there any tension in the air? Were there any furtive groups of angry young men milling about sniffing for vermin?

Nah, not at all, just the usual eclectic mix of Millwall fans buying burgers and collecting tickets and so on and so forth.

Mildly amusing when the west ham team bus turned up in the ‘closed’ Zampa road as it was being slowly walked in by a gaggle of storm troopers, almost at a funereal pace as it made its way through the car park and over to the players entrance where the club had ‘thoughtfully’ erected a temporary fence to add to the ludicrously surreal situation.

A sudden swelling of masses then took place at the fence as the west ham team were taunted and tormented as they made the four paces from coach to doorway but it wasn’t malicious or life threatening stuff, just a bit of baiting and teasing as you might expect. Pantomime boo hiss booing and the like just to let them know where they were.

The sold out signs went up days ago for this fixture but clearly this was not the case as the kick off approached there were scores of empty seats around the Den (even in the away end) and the final attendance figures of 16,078 (away 1,883) told its own tale. That is around 4,000 shy of the official capacity. I state this not as an inflammatory thing, it is just a statement of fact. Maybe in future games that have the potential to “sell out” it might be prudent of the club to state how many tickets they have available. I assume the away end should be 2000 capacity for the top tier so in truth Millwall will only ever have 14,095 available home tickets for any game?

Enough already, who cares anyway, we were in and the teams were coming out to a cacophony of noise as we contemplated Mr Jackett’s selection for this one. 4-5-1 it was and they lined up as follows: Forde, Dunne, Ward Robbo, Stewart, Bouazza, Abdou, Trotter, Mkandawire, Feeney and Marquis.

Referee Mason apparently blew his whistle as the Lions took the kick off but we immediately gave the ball away and from just inside our half Lansbury hit a low shot from about 45 yards.

To our abject horror we looked towards our goal and Forde wasn’t there. He was still faffing about round the side sorting out his towelling arrangements, completely oblivious that the game had started. Luckily for us the shot was off target and limped safely past the post for a goal kick.

Ye Gods, what was going on? Should the ref have checked both ‘keeper’s were ready? Why wasn’t Forde ready, why did we give the ball away after three seconds? Who knows, but I think they may have been the media’s wish come true riot if they had scored.

Why our players started berating the ref only they will know because if they thought he should have seen that Forde wasn’t ready then so should they have noticed and a) not kicked off or b) keep hold of the fucking ball if they did want to kick off while their ‘keeper was doing his foibles.

That was the only real blip for the first forty five though as the Lions took control of the game straight after this and proceeded to get stuck into the visitors at every opportunity.

Bouazza was well into his stride and after about ten minutes he weaved his way into some space and let fly with a ferocious effort that had England flop Green fumbling and spilling the ball out for a corner.

The Millwall back four looked pretty solid and the threat of Cole never materialised as Robbo virtually had him sewn up, restricting the gangly forward to a half hearted attempt from distance that Forde dealt with quite comfortably.

Trotter and Abdou were pretty commanding in the midfield and with Mkandawire (sporting a bandage from an early on clash of heads) backing them up, the centre of the park was Millwall territory.

Trotter had a glorious chance to open the scoring after he was put through but his final shot lacked a little pace and this time Green managed to cling on the ball.
West ham did have one chance of note when Lansbury collected the ball after Forde had dropped a cross but his first shot was well saved by Forde and his effort from the rebound hit the bar and went out for a goal kick.

Trotter again had a chance as he raced in to latch onto a deep cross from Stewart after Abdou had again retrieved the ball in midfield but his outstretched foot volleyed the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The half time whistle went soon after and it was a very well received first half performance by Millwall who had clearly had the best of it.

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The second started with no changes for the Lions and Marquis continued his one-man assault as the lone figure up front but he was clearly relishing the responsibility and his commitment and belief in his own abilities was there for all to see.

The first chance of the half fell to Millwall and again Bouazza, finding a way through managed to get a shot off that was probably taken too quickly and therefore lacked any real threat but it was enough for West Ham manager Allardyce to make a change. On came David Bentley for Taylor, proof, if it was needed, how far apart we are from them in terms of personnel, and although it was apparent that the on loan Spurs man had abundant quality, it wont help matters if the rest of the team are sadly lacking in that particular department.

But, the change did afford the visitors more of the ball and indeed they did seem to have more of the game as the half continued but for all their possession they failed to produce any worthwhile end product.

Just past the hour mark Mr Jackett made his move with a double substitution, bringing off Bouazza and Feeney and introducing Simpson and Henry into the fray.

The two subs soon got involved in a good move which saw Simpson set off but his second touch was appalling and the ball was eagerly gathered up by O’ Brien in the west ham defence.

The next bit of action of note was a west ham attack that really should have ended with a goal when they broke out of defence from a Millwall corner and when Lansbury hit over a nigh on perfect cross to Nolan the result looked obvious but the expensive midfielder failed miserably to justify his ridiculous wage by tamely heading the ball into the grateful arms of Forde.

With fifteen minutes to go it was the visitors who really should have got the opening goal. First off the ineffective Cole made a complete mess of a chance by losing control of the ball while under no pressure at all then moments later Forde fumbled a Flaubert scuffer but the ball fell straight to Bentley who, when faced with an open goal, managed to place the ball expertly wide of the post.

We had a half chance late on when Henry tried a pretty impudent back heel from a Trotter low cross that almost caught out Green but in truth Henry would have been better off trapping the ball and taking his chance in a more conventional manner.

As the game was nearing its conclusion Mr Jackett took off Mkandawire and brought on Dany N’Guessen who certainly looked lively enough and his low fizzer of a shot almost went in at the near post with Green scrabbling down like a madman to block the shot and that was about the end of the action.

The full time whistle went and with honours even the players left the pitch to some generous applause.

It wasn’t a classic but it was far from unenjoyable and at times very entertaining.

So the game has come and gone and the world is still spinning on its axis and life goes on. A decent point for the Lions and although we have now gone four games without scoring it can only be a matter of time before Mr Jackett sorts out his best combination on the attacking front and these draws will start turning into wins.

League cup distraction mid week at Wolves and then back to league fixtures next Saturday for a trip back to Derby.

See you all there.

Updated 18-09-2011 at 07:53 PM by FairweatherFan

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    Good report fairweather, thanks (missed the match as I was away, I know-not proper Wall!)