Millwall 3-0 Coventry ~ Match Report

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Tuesday night football at the Den after a stonking Saturday victory should have seen the old place heaving with slavering Lions fans as a pitiful looking Coventry side limped into town but for some obscure reason the numbers were not too good at all. Barely 9,000 turned out for this one and I don’t have any idea why.

Granted, Coventry are not a big draw but by the Gods of football we go to see the Lions, not the opponents, don’t we?

I always see Coventry as a very nondescript side, they are always there but no one really notices them. Their fans are widely ridiculed for their gormless demeanour, their poor hygiene, their lack of teeth and hopeless fashion sense…hang on…I have just described all northerners but I guess its not fair to preclude the Coventry fans from the only group they may ever fit into…

Just under 400 of these misfits turned up to see the almost pre destined walloping and they really must have masochistic tendencies to want to follow a team that are slowly slipping into oblivion but I will state for the record that I have a small semblance of admiration for them for not giving up on their team despite all that they are having to endure.

But enough of the whipping boys, let’s look at what Mr Jackett had decide to do … no brainer time, of course, a 4-1 win tends to leave the team to pick itself and this was just what Mr Jackett did. An unchanged team oozing with confidence is something we had been in short supply of this season but this is what we got for our troubles as we lined up with Forde in goal, Smith, Ward, Robbo and Dunne at the back, Feeney, Abdou, Trotter and Howard in midfield and Henderson and Simpson up front.

Referee Philips, baldhead gleaming like a beacon of hope under the floodlit pitch, got the game going and we started off in now familiar format, the ball finding its way quickly out to Feeney to allow him an early run at the full back and it was encouraging stuff as he skipped past the bemused left back but his first time cross sailed out of play but a minute later and with less than five minutes on the clock he repeated the same move and found Henderson just beyond the far post but the big mans header looped over the bar and rested on the top of the net.

Howard and Smith then combined to put Feeney in a half decent position but the lively winger looped the ball over the bar from just inside the box.

Coventry quickly adopted a very frustrating regime that principally meant that they kept the ball just outside their penalty area and passed it continually across the back four. This frustrating tactic clearly bemused the lions as they just stood back waiting for something to happen but if we had not pressed them then they would still be there now passing the bloody ball backwards and sideways.

Henderson’s frustration was clear when he unleashed a 30 yard speculative shot that although was on target was not going to cause Murphy in the Sky Blues goal any real problems.

With half the half gone the Lions fans were getting very frustrated now and the cat calls and whistles were soon emanating out of the stands but in truth we were being far too cautious but just to prove we were, perhaps, right to have a little caution when McSheffrey hit a low shot from distance that had Forde scrambling down to his right to make a rather improvised save.

We did create a few chances despite the negativity of our visitors, Alan Dunne hit a firm strike that looked promising but it took a deflection off a defender and then Jimmy Abdou had an effort that was thwarted by the impressive Keogh at right back.

But, it did seem as if we were bereft of ideas in how to tackle the stagnant approach from a Coventry side that were here to clearly spoil the party.

Nearing half time we worked the ball through from Feeney to Trotter (very good advantage played by chrome dome Phillips) and the powerful midfielder moved forward, gazelle like in his stride, and hit the ball low but ‘keeper Murphy got down quick to gather.

Just after that we had a minor scare when McSheffrey got rare possession in our half and as he moved cautiously down the wing he hit a hopeful cross to no one in particular (as there was no one that far forward from them) but the ball drifted and almost caught out Fordie as the ball bounced off the top of the cross bar.

The half ended with a whimper as the Lions trudged off, clearly perplexed by the Coventry game plan, so we hoped that Mr Jackett would set them straight during the half time oranges…

The second half started with a change from Mr Jackett. He took off Howard and sent on Henry so that meant Feeney swopped wings.

We also looked far more focused and we went for the kill, throwing the first half caution to the wind and within 5 or 6 minutes we reaped our reward. Trotter got hold of the ball deep into their half and placed a neat ball for Henderson who controlled it perfectly and with a quick shuffle of his feet he created a space and rifled a shot (which did take a slight deflection) and the ball smashed into the back of the net. 1-0! At last, the breakthrough had arrived and the meagre crowd erupted.

Surely now Coventry would have to venture forward?

Well, yes, they did and we had a bit of a mini fright moments later as Jimmy Abdou made a really clumsy challenge on McSheffrey in our area and if I am honest (which makes a change) it looked like a penalty, and as referee Phillips extended his arm out pointing I feared the worse, but to our relief the follically challenged man in the middle was only signalling a goal kick.

That was a blip though and we soon had the game back by the scruff of its neck and we were looking very good and with about seventy minutes played Trotter again combined with Henderson who again played the soft shoe shuffle, found his space and smashed the ball home for his and Millwall’s second goal of the evening. 2-0 and it was game over.

The visitors had nothing to offer now and it became damage limitation. We were cruising and rightly so and with ten minutes to go Trotter capped off his own hat trick of assists when he made one of his trade mark slide rule passes that split the Coventry defence wide open and the grateful benefactor this time was the impressive Feeney who raced goal wards for a one on one with Murphy and in the kind of form Feeney is in there was only going to be one outcome. 3-0!!! Thank you and good night.

Coventry were beaten, humiliated and humbled by the Lions second half display and the only surprise was that we didn’t increase the score line. Mr Jackett made his substitutions, taking off hard working Simpson for Mkandawire and replacing the increasingly impressive Henderson for Dany N’Guessan, both changes being greeted by the home fans with ovations for both the outgoing and incoming players.

N’Guessen almost added a fourth goal within seconds of his arrival and if he had been on the pitch for a little longer he might’ve made it count but his effort lacked conviction and the shot deflected for a corner.

In the final few seconds we watched as Henry clipped a lovely cross into the box and it was Darren Ward who got on the end of it but he missed by a gnat’s cock and if we had got four then it would certainly have been just reward for a superb second half blitzkrieg on a shell shocked Coventry.

So, you can do the sums as well as me, 10 goals in three games, 9 out of 9 points and a steady climb up the table.

There is still a long way to go yet but at last we can see where we can and will be going, the Lions have found their bite and we are currently looking like a Championship side again.

So next up it is time to get your ‘kiss me quick, squeeze me slowly’ trilby’s out for the trip up to Blackpool for a weekend at the seaside with Guy Fawkes Night on a Saturday let us hope the fireworks don’t turn into a damp squib as we look to increase our winning streak.

See you all there?!
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    great report as usual. thanks
    Ta for report.....Pretty damn good.

    Surprised you didn't mention Howard's role in midfield as he kept drifting in the middle & is obviously uncomfortable pushed out so wide on the left.