Millwall 3-1 Middlesbrough ~ Match Musings

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An early afternoon kick off for our second home game of the season saw the visit of Middlesbrough, a team bereft of any semblance of popularity, save from the smattering of away fans nestled high up in North stand also saw a meagre turn out from the Millwall faithful, but those that bothered were rewarded with a fine performance from a Lions side still licking their wounds from the travesty of a defeat up at Sheffield last time out.

Jackett named an unchanged side for this encounter, favouring the first half performance against the Owls as the benchmark he is looking for so it was Taylor in goal, Dunne, Lowry, Osborne and Malone in defence, Trotter, Abdou, Wright and Henry in the middle leaving Keogh and Henderson up front.

Last season’s encounter with ‘Boro was a hard pill to swallow as they tore us a new arse for the first half and the game was beyond us by the break so there was some form of trepidation to see if we had improved and when referee Graham got the game started we soon had those fears dissipating quicker than a cold beer on a hot day.

We looked more than comfortable and started to play some decent possession football that almost had end results early on but twice we were stopped in full flight by the two slimmest of off side decisions as we got through the ‘boro back four with some neat, skilful football.

James Henry was on fire throughout this game and he was giving their left back a torrid time down the right wing. It was from a henry cross that we nearly opened the scoring, this time though from a corner. The ball was dinked in and Osborne got to it first with his head and the ball fell to Keogh whose first time effort was well saved by Steele in the ‘boro goal.

Henry was again involved in our next chance with yet another deft ball in finding Keogh again and this time Keogh’s header was blocked on the line by Steele and it looked like Keogh’s follow up hit the frame of the goal before being cleared to safety by an over worked ‘boro defence.

It wasn’t all one way traffic though and Miller had two good chances to score as his first effort was a side footed a volley over the bar and his second was a stinger of a shot that Taylor held comfortably. It was all very entertaining stuff but we needed that opening goal.

The breakthrough came bang on the 25 minute mark as the effervescent Henry flicked the ball forward into the path of Trotter and the big midfielder caught the ball just up off the bounce and sent it looping into the top corner of the ‘boro net. 1-0!

The expected backlash from the visitors failed to materialise and we carried on pushing them back as we looked for the second goal. We didn’t have to wait too long for this to come along as barely eight minutes had elapsed when we doubled our lead. More fine work from trotter on the left saw his cross fall to Henry who jinked into position and fired a low shot that struck the post. The ball fell kindly for Keogh who made no mistake in firing it into the back of the net. 2-0! Brilliant stuff.

We were cruising now and it all looked very good indeed but all the good work was undone by a moment of madness by Abdou who went after former Lions player George Friend as he ghosted into the left hand side of our area. The ball (and friend) were going nowhere but for some inexplicable reason, Abdou went for a clumsy sliding tackle and missed the ball completely but managed to find both of friends somewhat spindly legs. Referee Graham had no choice but to give the spot kick but the yellow card was a bit harsh on Abdou.

Emnes, dreadlocks flowing, made no mistake, sending Taylor the wrong way to make the score 2-1 at the half time break. Not too disastrous, but 2-0 would have been so much better.

The second half saw Jackett make a change, taking off Henderson, who although hadn’t played too badly just seemed off the pace a bit, and brought on Batt to possibly inject a bit of pace up front.

We again got off to a flyer as another Henry ball into the box caused mayhem in the ‘boro defence. Trotter, Keogh and Osborne all had a stab at the ball as it pinged around a cluster of legs but the ball was eventually hoofed away by a relieved Middlesbrough defence.

In recent games we have noticed that the Lions have had a tendency to sit back a bit when in front but not this time. We continued attacking and the visitors did likewise so it made for some very entertaining football.

Malone and Dunne were playing the lines well, supporting the midfield and likewise the midfield were doing their duty when required in backing their defenders. Malone in particular was foraging deep into the ‘boro half and on one occasion got on the end of some neat football between Keogh and Henry only for the ball to fall a whisker away from the net.

Lowry then took a booking for the team really, with a spectacular tackle that sent their man into orbit. It was necessary and fully deserved though. A moment earlier, we had the ball in our half, under no pressure but they had a man down injured. We put the ball out to allow him to get treatment, they threw the ball back in and their number 11 whose name escapes me (Haroun?), instead of doing the usual pass to the opposition ‘keeper, decided to put the ball out for a Millwall throw in deep into our own half. The cat calls and abuse reigned down from the stands and Lowry, may the Gods of football bless him, did what we all wanted to do and thus took the yellow card accordingly. Well done that man!
Henry had run his proverbial socks off and was in my humble opinion, easily man of the match, and duly got the standing ovation his performance deserved as he was substituted for Feeney with about ten minutes remaining. Feeney got straight into the mix, clearly looking to impress and caused a few ruffled feathers in the now over worked ‘boro rear guard.

The third goal had to come and it was a really well taken effort by the superb Keogh. Malone picked the ball up out on the left and again pushed into their area and his low cross was expertly directed in by Keogh who is looking more and more like Jackett’s best signing.

There was still time left for ‘boro to perform the miss of the season as in the dying minutes as the ball was slipped across our six yard line to the unmarked Emnes who proved more adept from 12 yards as he managed to sky the ball way over the bar, much to our relief and merriment.

So it ended 3-1 and it was a thoroughly entertaining game of football and with the international break now upon us it gives us time to get Robbo, Smith etc back from injuries and boosting the squad in readiness for the away trip to Hull on the 15th September.

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?". - (As You Like It Act IV, Scene I).
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    Wheres the honourable mention for website members spotted on the day?

    I know that was a MISA thing but surely its transferable :)
    Only on WFNF. Hof doesn't get the same treatment :-)