Millwall 1-2 Brighton ~ Match Musings

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How do write down a deep and meaningful sigh without making it sound like disaffectedness towards our most beloved football club?

It was another hard pill to swallow on Saturday as we saw a resurgent Brighton and Hove Albion team swan into what we laughingly refer to as ‘fortress Den’ followed by a decent following that looked like a left over from the annual LGBT festival that their home town is most famous for.

There were more bells and fucking whistles blowing than on a close encounter with the third kind as the notoriously colourful fans of the rainbow team turned up en masse to lisp and posture like demented offspring of Quentin Crisp and John Waters with a splash of Billie Jean King in the mix...

These flamboyant fuckers have come to game late but have managed to learn every fucking cliché racked football song in the big book of whimsical ditties that become boring and obnoxious after two rousing renditions.

But, to be honest, these prancing jackanapes at least had something to sing about. They have got a decent side under Gus Poyet’s command and I must admit I did fear the worst even before a ball had been kicked.

Me and MrsB took one of our Grandson’s to Arments for some pie and mash before the game and he confidently predicted a 6-0 win for the Lions, such is the eternal optimism of one so young (that and bloody FIFA 12 , soon to be 13, giving him false hope) but as we went into the ground I was already mentally accepting that a draw would be a fine result (yes, it has come to this, I am afraid).

Jackett had raised a few eyebrows by dropping Maik Taylor and reinstating Forde for this game. A thin line indeed between bravery and stupidity but the Irish stopper only went off the boil when his confidence got shot to pieces so I guess he has top try him back as No. 1 before too long because although I believe Taylor is the better ‘keeper, his age is clearly against him and is not really one for the future.

The back four had Dunne, Lowry, Osborne and Malone, the midfield the now familiar look of Henry, Abdou, Trotter and Wright but up front we saw Keogh partnered by new boy Wood, Henderson demoted to the subs bench.

A decent crowd for a change ( who am I kidding, with almost 2,500 away fans, it was a pretty poor attendance of just over 12,000, ) settled down in the unusually hot autumn sun as referee Marinner got things going and with our strategic set up being 4-3-3 we waited patiently for Brighton to open the scoring... Alright, I made that bit up but I definitely sensed trepidation in the air as we started playing our version of tikki takki football that seems to be Jackett’s vision of how we will be playing from now on.

And do you know what... we didn’t look too bad at all. In fact, I will be as bold to say we looked quite good as on about five minutes we created the first chance of the game, a header from Wood that was easily saved by Kuszczak, but kudos to Malone for the cross.

But we reverted to type straight after this, allowing the cuckolded ex England defender, Wayne Bridge to hit a low drive that Forde did very well to save. When Buckley followed this soon after with a blasting effort that went over the bar, little alarm bells started ringing in my head.

It took the visitors until about fifteen minutes of football to expose our fragility that we all knew was lurking under the surface. It came from down our right side, Trotter, yet again standing off a player and letting him run watched bereft of ideas as Buckley casually ambled into our box and when the ball was played across the face of our goal Barnes was there unmarked to fire in a simple goal. 0-1. Same Shit, Different Game.

The body language of our lot was oh too familiar. Heads down, no eye contact with colleagues, not rousing encouragement. Not a fucking thing from any of them.

The goal also knocked the stuffing out of an already despondent home crowd. There was a smattering of groups trying to rally the troops but it was infrequent and frankly, making no impact on the players.

Brighton quickly picked up on our lack of ambition and started to control the game and it wasn’t until late into the half when we started to look for a way to equalise. Malone made a valiant run from deep in his own half that drew encouraging cheers from the Millwall faithful and his pass picked out Wood who sort of swept a shot at goal and although it was never going in at least the move brought some spontaneous applause from the dejected fans.

Almost as a reminder to us not to get ideas above our station, Brighton soon mustered up another attempt at goal which had the Lions against the ropes as they pushed for the second, this time Bridge provided the creative spark with a lofted ball in behind our static defence. Buckley showed his pace before rounding the out rushing Forde, but Shane Lowry made up the ground to clear his effort off the line.

James Henry, still not finding his early season form, gave us an inkling of what he is capable of by putting the Seagull’s ‘keeper to work, forcing a full length save and then sending in a decent ball that had the ‘keeper stumbling and fumbling but the loose ball was not capitalised on by first Trotter and then Keogh and the chance had gone begging.

The half time whistle brought a few boo’s from the home stands but in fairness, the players hadn’t done too much wrong, they just hadn’t done enough things right.

Jackett made a change for the second half. He took off Wright and sent on Chris Taylor who soon got into the action with a crunching tackle on the ludicrously named Inigo Calderon, who deserved the crunching tackle for his name alone. But referee Marinner was swift to bring out the yellow card with only about 20 seconds of the half gone and that was to prove costly later on.

Within a couple of minutes of this incident we were two down; a simple corner kick into our box, a loose ball and El-Abd was unmarked and slammed home from close range. 0-2 and suddenly we were bang in trouble again.

The passing back and forth in our own half was at times impressive but it really served no purpose whatsoever. Brighton just sat back and let us fuck about with the ball and then took it off us as we moved forward. It was very frustrating to watch and the tempo of the crowd was soon reflecting this.

What we wanted was a bit more blood and guts football, not pretty passing patterns and it was the sub Taylor who twigged this more so than any of the others, he looked up for the challenge and we hoped his enthusiasm might rub off on some of the others.

Our fannying about almost cost us a third goal though. Brighton worked the flank, got a good ball in and Barnes got a free header in that beat Forde but was cleared off the line by Trotter (I think?) and the ball was hoofed to safety.

On around the seventy minute mark we watched in abject misery as a through ball was chased down by the busy Taylor but as he went for the ball he was just short of getting as ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, hereafter known as the cheating Pole, made out he had his hand trodden on as Taylor went past him. Referee Marinner made his mind up instantly that a foul had been committed buoyed on by the histrionics of the cheating Pole. You would have thought that at least four fingers had been decapitated as a bare minimum, judging by the paroxysms the cheating Pole was going through.

The red card was brandished and credit to Robbo (who had replaced Malone on the hour mark) who ran half the length of the pitch to bellow his thoughts at the now prostrate cheating Pole. At last a bit of raw emotion from a Millwall player. The rest of the team finally got the message after this set back and I have to say that the last twenty minutes was a proper battling display so bereft from Millwall recently.

Brighton went to pieces, unable to contain a team that had felt, quite rightly, that they had been cheated. After ten minutes of pressure we had something to cheer about at last. A deep ball across saw Wood at the far post and he controlled the ball well and drilled it past the cheating Pole. 1-2! And now our tails were up.

Brighton were now in panic mode and they were wobbling. Their lame duck fans were now silent, fearing that their 2 goal lead was going to vanish.

And in stoppage time we came oh so close to getting that elusive equaliser. The same move as before saw Wood in an identical position but this time his shot hit the legs of the cheating Pole and ricocheted to safety for Seagull’s and with it went our last chance of the game.

The final whistle went and a cacophony of boos rang out around the place as the fans frustration poured out. It was another home defeat, another disastrous result, another week end of moands and groans on the cards.

The signs are there that we can improve but the longer this abysmal run continues the harder it is going to get. The fans are not fools and they know their onions and we are currently looking like relegation fodder despite the late rally after Taylor’s unfortunate sending off. Jackett needs to bottle that last fifteen minutes or so and try and get the formula for it as it was much better than the previous stuff offered up.

So, we find ourselves in the bottom three already but of course, in our favour, is that we have a long old season still stretching out in front of us. As I type this I am listening to the radio and they are playing an apt song...Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush...Don’t give up...

Good advice indeed.

"When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions". - (Hamlet Act IV, Scene V).
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