Millwall 2-3 Southampton ~ Match Report

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Southampton at home is not what you would normally consider a ‘big’ game but nonetheless, when a team is pushing for promotion to the premier league it tends to attract more than average interest and this was indeed the case with the Saints. For some obscure reasoning best known only to Odin in Valhalla it was deemed appropriate to let the Saints fans have not just the top tier but the middle section of the bottom tier as well.

To be honest, they could have been doing this as a precursor to the visit of Leeds to see how the Mets finest dealt with the issue (and more importantly, in what numbers, seeing as how Millwall have to stump up the readies for their overtime).

The fact that there almost as many old bill in the lower tier as there were Saints fans probably suggests that this was a one off as the financial aspect of it was cancelled out.

Me and MrsB were again sitting in the East Lower (doctors order’s this time for me, bad knee had been fixed so I had to rest it as much as possible) and we were dropped off as near to the ground as was humanly possible by NickB so hardly any walking for me at all.

We went in an sat down just in time to hear the team news and Mr Jackett had made some changes from last week’s team and the most glaring one was between the sticks as emergency loanee Maik Taylor replaced the beleaguered, fraught and strangely complacent looking David Forde. The rest of the line-up was as follows with Dunne, Robbo, Ward and Smith making up the back four and Bouazza, Wright, Abdou and Henry looking after the midfield which left Henderson and Keogh as the front two.

A healthy crowd of just over 12,000 (admittedly boosted by the 2,500 odd visitors) watched eagerly as referee Graham got us going and if anyone wasn’t aware of the threat from Rickie Lambert then he reminded everyone after about 45 seconds of play when he unleashed a ferocious drive that had Taylor at full stretch and I am convinced he just got his fingertip to it which was just enough for the ball to lift slightly and cannon onto the cross bar.

This was all the visitors needed from their prolific marksman as they smelt the nervousness of the Lions and they began to lay siege to our goal. It was definitely a rearguard action for Millwall as the lads strove to keep the red and white wave at bay but after only about five minutes of play we soon succumbed in a most pitifully dreadful way.

They just waltzed the ball past our midfield and poor old Dunne was left trailing in the wake of Schneiderlin who looked like he was just ambling along waiting for the inevitable figure of Lambert to appear and as we looked on aghast we saw said Lambert waiting in the six yard box like a slavering hyena who has just discovered a big fat wildebeest carcass to devour.

Total disaster. Even though Lambert almost construed to miss, even Dave Livermore would have hit this one home, and the ball crashed into the net.0-1.

The boisterous Saints fans reminded us who they were at their position in the league but we weren’t really listening to their dribbling chorus of bumpkin bravado. We, of course, feared the worst as yet again our abysmal home form was rearing its ugly phizog so early into the match..

Thankfully, the players did not share the same levels of fortitude as the crowd and we actually upped our game immeasurably in comparison to the first fifteen minutes. We had the saints marching backwards into their own half at last and Henry was looking to gain more plaudits as he chased and harried for the ball, Bouazza, not really in the same class as Henry, did his best to work the other wing but it was the Keogh and Henderson partnership that was causing the problems. Keogh, looking like a real find for Millwall, was playing some cultured football and Hendo was putting himself about as only he can and it had the visitors rattled.

Just after the quarter of an hour mark we got our just rewards. Henderson battled and bullied the ball off the Saints in the midfield and looked straight away for his partner and found him with a perfect pass. Keogh took up the challenge and belted towards goal and as he angled his run in he hit a low shot that beat Davis in the Saints goal but the ball rapped against the post. But at last lady luck had pulled her drawers up and was watching over us as the ball then ricocheted onto the shins of the hapless (and helpless) Fonte and into the back of the net. 1-1. Fan-bloody-tastic!

The Lions, roared on by the crowd, now looked like the Lions of old as we started ripping the visitors to shreds. The saints were all over the place now and all the football was coming from Millwall. We forced a couple of corners and the panic in the Southampton defence was palpable.

James Henry stuck in another fine corner kick and again Henderson was the first to it. He headed the ball into the six yard box where it looked like Robinson tried to get his head to it. The ball went forward but then it was returned to Robbo who steadied himself and unleashed a thunderous volley that ripped into the back of the net.2-1!! E-I- fuckin’ OHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
The Saints didn’t know what had hit them as we roared the lads on. Keogh and Henderson combined again soon after but the latter got into a mucking fuddle and the ball was cleared at the last minute by a relieved looking Southampton defence.

We did have a slight scare when a lucky rebound found its way to Do Prado but as he raced towards goal the sprightly Taylor proved he could still move quick enough for an old ‘un when he easily beat the in rushing Saints man to the loose ball.

We nearly added a third near to half time when Robinson tried to double his own tally with a firm header from another inch perfect Henry corner but this time Davis was up to the task and saved well.

The half time whistle brought cheers of approval as the lads went off with a job well done for the first forty five.

The second half started a bit like the first with the Saints having a renewed vigour. They nearly got an equaliser when Smith got his proverbials in a twist and Lallana looked certain to benefit from it as he got his shot away only for a remarkably brilliant bit of defending from Robbo denying him a goal.

It was clear a third goal would be needed to quell the Saints revival and we thought we were going to get it when Henderson got on the end of another telling ball but he directed his header straight at a grateful Davis and then we had an even better chance when Bouazza was set clear by another superb Henry pass and he raced towards goal for a one on one. We held our collective breath but the jug eared winger got his angles wrong and tried to beat Davis at the near post but the ‘keeper was up to the task and deflected the ball out for a corner.

We seemed to have corner after corner after the initial one from Bouazza’s effort and we again missed out on a third goal when Henderson met the ball with another powerful header that was cleared off the line by a resolute Southampton defence.
We also had the debacle of the hand ball by Davis who was well outside his box when Henderson took a pot shot and as we all waited to see if referee Graham would issue a yellow or red card we were all caught out as he gave the free kick to Southampton for a dubious off side decision.

As the game progressed we looked pretty comfortable with our lead and they never looked capable of getting past us. Kane replaced Henderson with about 15 minutes still to play (the general consensus of opinion around us was that Bouazza should have made way for Feeney)

The clock was ticking down nicely and with about five minutes to go and I am sure, with some fans heading for the exit as they do, Southampton ‘won’ a penalty. A loose ball in the box, Robbo had gone to ground and as Lambert pushed the ball past him he deliberately hooked his trailing foot around Robbo’s and went tumbling over.

Yet again another poor misguided referee fell for it and awarded the penalty. Lambert is becoming another Matt Le Tissier for Southampton in regards to scoring penalties and he made no mistake at all, firing high into the top right hand corner. 2-2. Bollocks. It was thoroughly undeserved and thoroughly against the run of the play.

The lads looked dejected as all the hard work had been undone by a simple act of cheating the ref but still, a draw against the top club was not too bad was it....

Three minutes later and we were in the madhouse. Another cross into our box and from our perspective it looked like a Saints header took the ball over the bar. No reaction from the away fans, no reaction from Southampton but a FUCKING BIG REACTION FROM THE BASTARD REF!!!!!! ANOTHER FUCKIN’ PENALTY!!! AND FOR WHAT?!?...and for what...?

Alan Dunne. Hand ball. Opinions are still divided. TV replays seem to show him playing volleyball but there was something nefarious going on, even their manager was non committal after the event saying “it could’ve been our player’s hand or a Millwall player’s hand”. The fact that he had a smug grin on his pie faced banjo playing retarded head spoke volumes.

Of course Lambert converted as you would expect and we went from winning with 5 minutes left to losing and how indicative is that of our season? The final whistle brought a sort of stunned silence from the home fans as we shuffled out the ground like extras from a George Romero zombie film.

We are fast running out of games now and we must start getting some points on the board as before too long we will be feeling the icy claws of the first division creeping over our shoulders and raking their chilling nails into our flesh as we get pulled kicking and screaming into the abyss of slightly less better football than we have currently been witnessing.

If Doncaster beat us on Tuesday and then win their game in hand they go above us. That is a frightening statistic. We really don’t need a hatful of points now to be safe. If we could just win our remaining home games....

Ah well, the fickle finger of fate is inexorable so we will have to put up or shut up and play the hand we are given and watch as the Gods of football toy with our emotions for just a while longer.

I won’t be at Doncaster to cheer the lads on so kudos to those going and give the lads a cheer for me.
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