Millwall 3-3 Birmingham ~ Match Musings

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I hold my hands up, I admit it, I missed the Palace away game through reasons of being away on holiday on a warm Mediterranean island with MrsB but we knew the result, of course, and we were keen to get back to SE London for the Tuesday night visit of Birmingham to see if the Lions could keep up the reasonably good work.

We got to the ground late but still had time to stop off and the Archbishop on the gate selling the increasingly popular new fanzine “I left my heart at Cold Blow Lane”, only 2 quid, all proceeds go to charity and fantastic value for money, before grabbing some grub at the Millwall café and making our way to our seats

The last time we played the blue noses we witnessed an awful drubbing and it was time to see if we had improved at all and the truth is we certainly had improved for at least 44 minutes then we sort of reverted back to type…it was tough to watch.

Birmingham are, as a club, are a bit of a nonentity, always the bridesmaids of the midlands, the biggest place in the middle of England with a football team that fail to deliver the goods for their half-witted fans.

A match made in heaven, if truth be told, these idiots have about as much charm as a rotting rat’s carcass, their high pitched whiney nasally way of speaking enough to grate the nerves of Marlee Martin or poor old Johnny Ray, their voices pitching high enough for fucking dolphins to understand, they honestly think they speak properly and everyone else talks funny. Second only to scousers for most irritating accent in Britain, they should all be subject to larynx removal at birth to save us all from listening to their pathetic warbling’s.

The fact that only a meagre 500 odd turned up to support them was in itself a bit of a blessing but even so when they all managed to sing some sort of colloquial Brummie song it sounded like the stuttering engines of an old 747 starting up.

So, what did Mr Jackett have in store for us as we settled down in the somewhat colder reaches of the East Stand (I still can’t call it the Dockers stand, It just don’t sound right), well, one change from the week end which saw Malone relegated to the bench in favour of Feeney so the line-up was as follows, Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Smith, Feeney, Abdou, Trotter, Taylor, Henderson and Wood.

Referee Haywood got the game going and it was a pretty open game of football from the off. We were playing our now familiar up tempo game but it was the visitors that threatened first with a reminder of what Marlon she said no King could be capable of when he made some room for himself but blasted his shot wide of the goal.

But we had things under control from that early scare as Shittu and Beevers dominated any balls into our half and with Taylor and Feeney working the wings well, we certainly looked like the better team.

Just about ten minutes in we won a throw in deep inside their half and from the throw from Feeney Henderson made himself busy in the six yard box and the ball was pounced on by Wood who stooped to head the ball past the static Butland in the Birmingham goal. 1-0! A fantastic start to the game and deserved on the balance of play.

We barely had the last bars of let ‘em come dying down when goal number two arrived. Again hesitation in the Brummie box saw the ball drop to Taylor who lashed it into the back of the net. 2-0. marvellous stuff, the place was now more alive than it had been in a long while. Incredulous looks all round and smiles as big as the moon, the Lions were on a roll.

With barely 20 minutes on the clock it looked like game over as Trotter’s cross was met by Wood who controlled the ball and stabbed it past the now completely distraught Butland for goal number three. The away section was now in complete silence as the Lions started to pile on the pressure looking for goal number four; it was looking so good…

Birmingham looked down and out and it looked simply a case of damage limitation but when trotter again played a neat defence splitting ball for Wood it looked like number four had arrived. Wood moved in on goal unchallenged for his hat trick and with Butland and looking like a startled rabbit all Wood had to do was slot it home but for some inexplicable reason he miss kicked the ball and it skewed out for a goal kick.

Still, never mind, we were three up, no worries…

We carried on pushing for the fourth and it was Wood again who came close with a stinging shot that Butland did well to save, at last showing the sort of form that we witnessed during the Olympic football.

But that was all right, don’t forget, we were three to the good so let him have his moment…

The half was petering out, one minute to go and Birmingham managed to get the ball up our end of the pitch and to be honest, there seemed no imminent danger when the ball deflected away from the goal as Forde moved swiftly to prevent the corner but for some reason Dunne decided to cantor after the ball seemingly oblivious to Forde’s presence and he manfully hooked the ball away from Forde and out for a throw in.

From the throw in Lita got the ball, cut in side and fired in a useless looking shot that was going nowhere near the goal and I swear I heard shouts of derision coming from the CBL but they soon turned to silence asking was lurking at the far side unmarked and he made no mistake from close range. 3-1. Ah well, it was only a consolation goal, wasn’t it…Half time came soon after and the lads ran off with well-deserved applause, the Brummie goal already forgotten as a minor blip on the performance.

The second half saw Mr Jackett make a change; he took of Smith and brought on Lowry. The tempo of the game carried on as before but it was clear the goal they had scraped in at the end of the half had given the visitors plenty of impetus and more than just an inkling of getting a foothold back in the game but again we almost got a fourth goal as we swept their defence aside and Henderson gave himself some room and unleashed a thunderous shot that looked goal bound but again Butland showed what he is capable of by pulling off a top class save to keep the score down to three.

And then, of course, we watched moments later in jaw dropping incredulity as Birmingham capitalised on some shoddy defending and when King received the ball from Murphy, he turned it promptly into the back of the Lions net. 3-2. Oh dear Lord, we all knew what was going to happen now…

We went into proper melt down mode, the confidence was shot to shit and panic had set in. The crowd fed of off this as well and the “one Kenny Jackett” ditty was a distant memory as the now familiar jeers of “sort it out, Jackett” were raining down from the stands.

We wobbled for about ten minutes but slowly started to get back into the game, Shittu having a go at goal and then shortly after a fine downward header from Henderson looked like it was in but again Butland proved that the hapless idiot in goal for Birmingham in the first half had fucked off back to Isengard (sorry, Birmingham) and been replaced by a world class ‘keeper as he made another fine save to deny Hendo a goal.

But of course, the inevitable happened, just after the hour mark and yet again slack defending saw King have all the time in the world to bag his hat trick and yet again prove that sometimes the amount of stick a player (deservedly) gets does not necessarily result in him having a ‘mare of a game…3-3 and huge alarm bells are now ringing all around the Den.

Forde had gone from confident ‘keeper to shambling wreck by now, trying to punch everything when a catch was simpler we feared the worse from him but to his credit he pulled off a classy save from Redmond who must have thought he had got their fourth goal after again getting the freedom of the Millwall defence for his troubles.

At this juncture, someone behind us berated a player, calling him a spaz. He quickly asked, rhetorically, am I allowed to say spaz anymore; such was the state of confusion as we watched the unbelievable scenario that had unfolded in front of us.

It was truly gut wrenching and I suspect not one of us in the home sections felt confident enough to state that we would hold on for the draw.

The ineffectual Feeney was replaced, for reasons best known to Mr Jackett, by Keogh when all the (or so we thought) smart money was on Malone replacing him, but nevertheless on cam Keogh and filled in the right flank position and almost got himself on the score sheet with a low shot that was on its way in but was blocked by a Birmingham defender but it was only a brief respite to the nail biting as Birmingham again went in search of a winner.

Thankfully, it never came as the Brummies’ ran out of steam and although we finished with a flurry of chances that had them scrambling around their penalty area it failed to raise the spirits of the Den.

As the final whistle blew the feeling was that we had actually lost the bloody game, a swift kick in the clunkers would probably describe how we all felt, it was painful to watch and hard to accept.

I’ll let the historians put me right but I have been watching Millwall since early 1968 and I really cannot recall us throwing away a 3 goal advantage at home in my life time. Sure, I’ve seen it happen away but never at home. Fortress Den is not what it was and Mr Jackett needs to go back to basics and sort out our defending tactics. I am led to believe by the more knowledgeable coaching fraternity that the idea is to build from the back, in other words don’t concede goals as apriority then work on the attack.

It doesn’t need Mr Jackett to come out spouting sound bites to us decrying the fact that our ‘goals against’ is appalling, I think we all are capable of working that one out, I do hope his team talks are more intense than some of the cliché ridden stuff he comes out with in front of the cameras.

So, no time to dwell on this, I suppose we should be trying to stay positive, I mean, we did actually bang three goals in, so with the visit of Huddersfield coming up, we have a chance to see how quickly Mr Jackett can get this team whipped into some sort of defensive unit so that we can start getting some wins under our belts instead of drawing every bloody game…

"Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude".(As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII).
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