Millwall 0-1 C Palace ~ Match Report

Rate this Entry
The last day of the year and we find ourselves playing at the Den against Crystal Palace. Almost a year to the day when we thumped them and got their manager sacked, as it happens. So, in fairness, we probably should have known what to expect from the Gods of Football and sure enough they didn’t let us down, did they?

We have, in all truthfulness, had our special needs neighbours in our proverbial pockets for some considerable time now and the law of averages dictate that sooner or later they would have to get a lucky break and so it was to be as a packed Den prepared for the 1.00pm kick off and the teams strolled out onto the pitch.

Mr Jackett had named the following first eleven as his best option for taking on a notoriously defensive Palace team and they lined up as follows: Mildenhall in goal, recalled from his loan at left back was Tony Craig, Lowry and Robbo in the centre of defence leaving Jack Smith as the right back. In midfield we started with Bouazza and feeney as the wide men with Trotter and Abdou in the centre, which meant the front pairing was Marquis and N’Guessan.

The atmosphere was strangely flat for such a decent turn out, I couldn’t tell you why that should be the case but flat it was and even the now lame “who the fuck are palace” sing-along failed to ignite the fans into any sort of emotion.

Referee East got the game under way and it was a cagey start from both teams. Smith was the first to have a go when he somehow contrived an effort of kinds after looking like he trod on the ball and lost his balance but the resulting (shot?) had the Palace keeper stumbling across his line only for the ball to bypass him and the goal.

There wasn’t much going on after that as both teams seemed to want to do their best to bore the life out of everyone. Our back four were dealing comfortably with the Place attack and it has to be said that our front two were impotent against a robust Palace back four.

Our midfield was not dominating enough and their midfield was happy enough to let them not dominate or something along them lines.

Then, quite naturally, almost inexorably, disaster struck.

We got caught on the break when it looked like Smith lost his footing and we watched in abject misery as the inevitable cross came into the box to find erstwhile Millwall loan reject Easter waiting to shin the ball into the net. 0-1.

It was all the visitors needed as their game plan was simply to nick a goal and then defend the lead and we had neither the nous nor the guidance to break them down.
In fact, if Mildenhall hadn’t had his wits about him we could have been two down soon after when a long laborious free kick drifted aimlessly over everyone and fell to Jedinak whose mishit shot was acrobatically tipped over by the big man.

We then had another one of those “how the fuck” moments when Bouazza finally slipped his marker and sent over a nigh on perfect ball into the Palace box which was met by N’Guessan who managed to sort of replicate what Henderson did last time out by heading the ball down and watching it bounce over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

This miss also had the added misery of MrsB throwing her hands up in despair (along with 14,000 odd other Millwall fans, I hasten to add) but in MrsB’s case she felt a gold ring fly from her finger and get lost somewhere in Block 16 of the East Upper. It was never found.

Trotter had a half chance saved by the Palace ‘keeper after being put in by N’Guessan but it was always laboured and somewhat lugubrious by a Millwall side rapidly running out of ideas.

The half finished with a cacophony of booing from the majority of the home fans as the players trudged off the pitch.

The change by Jackett had to be made but it was not quite what the fans were expecting as he swapped N’Guessan for Simpson leaving Marquis to carry on performing like a mad march hare. Marquis has subsequently taken a huge amount of flak for his ineptitude by a lot of disgruntled fans and also from a rather thinly veiled agreement of this by Jackett but there is a lot of truth in the old adage “a bad workman always blames his tools”.

We carried on plugging away, enjoying possession simply because palace seemingly had the measure of us and were happy to sit back and defend.

Trotter had a header go wide and he also managed a looping effort that was always going over.

Bouazza’s last real contribution was from a mazy run that finally got him into their box but his shot went wide of the far post.

Jackett took Bouazza off and brought on Henry and this put Feeney over onto the left and we looked a tad more effective.
Henry seemed to have the right idea in getting balls into the box but we had two strikers who seemed bereft of ideas on how to make use of these balls.

Robbo finally showed them what they should be doing when he got on the end on a perfect Henry corner but his header beat the ‘keeper but not defender Parr who headed off the line.

A big shout for a penalty came when Marquis was dumped on his arse but truth be told, he goes down easier than tuppney whore on payday and referee East was having one of it, having kept a beady eye on young Marquis’ earlier histrionics every time he was challenged for a ball.

We lost our composure and we lost our way and the end result was we lost the game. Not our finest hour, that’s for certain and the mood of the mob was quite ugly.

To lose to a local rival is hard to take at the best of times but the capitulation was extremely hard to bear. We will never berate a Millwall team that tries. But there was no urgency in this game, no sense of the importance and no sense of what it meant and that is worrying. If the lads can’t raise their game for a local derby then something is clearly wrong.

Mr Jackett is, if he didn’t realise it by now, in crisis mode. The plug has been pulled out of the relegation bath and the vortex that sucks you down is in full swing. We need to re group and get back to basics and we need to get some semblance of confidence back into a side that looks for all the world like relegation fodder at the moment.

We have a game on Tuesday night at Bristol City that could well be a defining moment and the outcome could dictate whether or not 2012 is going to be a happy new year for us or not, as the case may be.

Work dictates that I can’t make this game but kudos for those who are making the trip and lets hope we see a more positive response from a Lions side that are, at the moment, licking their wounds and feeling pretty sorry for themselves.
Tags: None Add / Edit Tags