Millwall 3-2 Doncaster Rovers ~ Match Report

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Midweek football at the Den and yet again a very empty looking Den for the visit of Doncaster Rovers, struggling along with us at the wrong end of the table.

Yes, typical norvern monkey types, as you would expect and also as expected, only about 250 of them turned up to watch along with (officially) 8,800 Lions fans saw a hard to believe attendance of just over 9,000. Great swathes of blue (and some yellow) seats were easily outnumbering the spectators as MrsB and me took our seats.

One change in the starting line up for Millwall was enforced by Robbo’s suspension for his collection of yellow cards so Ward was brought back into the line up which looked like this: Mildenhall, Baker, Lowry, Ward, Smith, Feeney, Abdou, Trotter (capt), Barron, Simpson and Marquis.

Eternal fall guy referee Andrew D’Urso as in charge for this game and to be honest, in recent history, he has been behaving himself when refereeing our games but he will still get stick just for having a really unnecessary apostrophe in his surname. I mean, what the fuck is that all about? An apostrophe, for those of you who are interested, is a simple punctuation mark to replace missing letters when writing English (for example, do not becomes don’t) or to mark possessive case (for example the dog’s bollocks) so if you don’t want your surname to look like the dog’s bollocks then drop the stupid superfluous apostrophe D’Urso. You are just plain Andy Durso so deal with it, you plum.

I am sure some of you have your own views on Durso but my only real memory of him taking charge of a Millwall game was back in 2004 (I think) when he had been banned from refereeing for failing to realise he had given a player two yellow cards in one match and we had him on his return so we just gave him stick throughout the match whether he deserved it or not.

Anyway, he got the game going on time and it was a very flat atmosphere, I have to say. I don’t know why it should’ve (note the apostrophe Durso) been flat but it just was.

We started OK but there seemed to be lethargy about the place that was seeping all around. We couldn’t string two passes together and they seemed adept at putting the ball into touch at every opportunity.

We had a Trotter shot that was fisted away by the Rovers ‘keeper and soon after Baker go his head to a Barron free kick but his header missed the target by some distance.

It was turgid stuff at times and the noises from the terraces were more likely to be snores than roars but that all changed on the 25 minute mark when Barron picked out Marquis who worked his way down the flank and cut into the Rover’s area surrounded by defenders and he was bundled over for a blatant penalty. Durso concurred and pointed to the spot.

Trotter stepped up confidently and made no mistake with his spot kick. 1-0 to the Lions and at last something to cheer about.

Doncaster rallied after this and it looked like they had manufactured an equaliser when Goulon was first to the ball and directed his header past Mildenhall but superb positioning by Lowry saw the on loan defender head the ball off the line.

Simpson had a half hearted shot easily saved and then disaster, quite naturally, struck.

Barron made a clumsy challenge on Sharp with the ball going nowhere inside our area and Durso had no real option other than to give a penalty. He may be accused of just giving parity but it looked like a penalty to me.

Sharp had no problem scoring from the spot so it was 1-1 heading towards half time.

We then had a brief spell of stalemate which was broken up by a lovely little passage of play that saw Smith and Trotter link up with a clever one-two that saw temporary skipper Trotter dance his way into the box and somehow stab the ball past the desperately flat footed Ikeme in goal for Rovers and into the back of the net. 2-1! Much better Millwall. Right on halftime, perfect.

The second half was marginally more interesting than the first as Rovers decided to give it a bit of a go which in turn made us up our game as well and Mildenhall was called into action early on when he saved really well from a stinging shot by Fortune and this galvanised Millwall into action and we should have scored a third when Lowry got on the end of a free kick from the left by Barron which found Lowry in the six yard box all alone and although he got his boot to it and it beat Ikeme it bounced off the post and was cleared.

We were in control after this and we looked the more accomplished side as Rovers demonstrated why they are in such a precarious position. To add to their woes we welcomed the return of Darius Henderson back into first team action as he came on for the hard working but ineffectual John Marquis and the big front man soon made his presence felt.

With the now beleaguered Rovers defence panicking with Henderson’s presence it gave Simpson more time and space and he had two decent efforts in a short space of time, the first, a thumping goal bound drive that was blocked and then a volley that went just over the bar from a lovely little dinking ball from the much improved Barron.

Bouazza came on to much applause as he replaced Barron with about 15 minutes remaining and he also made a difference to proceedings so it was good to have him back in the fold.

James Henry replaced the hard working Feeney with ten minutes to play and the crowd gave Feeney a very decent round of applause as he is fast becoming a bit of a favourite at the Den.

With five minutes left to play Bouazza’s free kick saw Henderson win a deft header that wrong footed Ikeme and found the back of Rovers net to give the Lions a deserved third goal. 3-1 and game over?

Not quite.

In typical Millwall style we let the visitors back in when Billy Sharp got his head to a deep cross from the left by Bennett and before we had time to settle down to the 3-1 score line it was 3-2.

We should have actually made it 4-2 moments after this minor set back when Henderson picked up the ball and fashioned a great counter attack and when he raced into the box he fed a square pass to Bouazza who should have easily found the back of the net but the winger somehow managed to hit the ball straight at Ikeme and the chance had gone begging.

Still, it made no real difference as Durso called time soon after and the three points were safely in the bag. No drama’s, no problems.

This moved us up to 17th in the table and in a more comfortable position. It was good to get back to winning ways and to see the players with smiles on their faces again.

A tough trip to Leeds United now awaits the Lions and I am sorry to say that with all the ticket shenanigans in place plus the early kick off I am not bothering with this one so I wont see you there but fair play to the ones that go.

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