Millwall 1-0 Leicester ~ Match Musings

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With Kenny Jackett scooping up the November manager of the month award and the defeat at Ipswich already counting as the hoodoo hanging over this prestigious award it was obvious to me that high flying, premier bound Leicester City with their multi million pound line up would be a piece of cake to the rampant Lions forging their own personal route up into the double edged sword that is the promised land of the premier league.

Hark at me, banging on about promotion to the premier league, this wasn’t what I was expecting to be banging on about come the festive season, if I am honest, (which I usually am) I was expecting to be writing about relegation battles or at best, safe mid table mediocrity for our beloved team.

But, the league table is always the pointer to the truth of the matter and we entered this game just outside the play-off berth and with everything to play for.

When me and MrsB arrived at or usual parking slot, the place was empty even though we were late (short story, MrsB had been to the dentist to have two teeth extracted that very morning but was still insistent on coming to the game). The emptiness continued right up and in to the ground and it made me think for a split second that perhaps we had got the kick off time wrong.

I realise that we were never going to replicate the 18,000 odd from the last home game against Charlton, if you take off the away following that would leave 15,000 or so Millwall fans to account for so even if you took out the usual planks that turn up for these so called big games I would have thought that a few more than the usual 9,500 might make the effort for the Leicester game.

But no; the usual 9,500 is what we got so we have to assume that money is clearly the problem for some and that the others were there to see Charlton and not Millwall. Bastards.

But I digress.

Mr Jackett made changes from the losing side at Ipswich and this was to be expected, I guess, but the changes did not seem to be in line with most fans thoughts and there were some puzzled looks about the sparsely populated stands when the teams were announced.

So, we had Forde in goal, Lowry, Shittu, Beevers and Smith A across the back, Malone, Trotter, Abdou and Henry in the middle with N’Guessan and Wood up front.

When referee Hooper got the game going we soon got the picture. Leicester meant business and they were no shrinking violets. The bullied and blustered their way forward and were tested defensively for the opening period but lessons have been quickly learnt from the Ipswich game and there was no way through for the visitors. Shittu and Beevers were tidying nicely in the middle and Smith just goes from strength to strength and Lowry was having his best games for us this season. He made a stupendous block after about ten minutes that a lesser player could only dream about.

The battling qualities of the defence stood us in good stead but we did look decidedly floppy in midfield. Abdou was snapping at the heels of anything that moved but the wing play was virtually non-existent for long spells and although Trotter was chipping in we just looked a bit un balanced.

But as the fairly benign half unfolded, we started to play a bit better. Wood glanced a header wide from a fabulous Henry cross and then Henry himself cut in from the right to get onto a Wood flick on but fired a low shot wide.

We should have gone one up when another teasing Henry cross was met by N’Guessan with what looked like acres of room but his header went over the bar. Actually, N’Guessan was making a decent fist of his first start of the season, clearly not in the same bracket as Keogh or Wood, but doing better than I thought he would do.

Trotter worked Schmeichel after more good work from Wood and then Henry again from distance gave the timid Dane something to think about as we slowly made our way into getting properly into the game.

All the good work was very nearly undone just before half time as Nugent finally breached the attentive care of Shittu and Beevers but his powerful shot from close range was stopped by Forde’s legs which thankfully were up to the task. The ball rebounded out to safety and the soon after the half time whistle went and we felt that although the football wasn’t exactly blockbuster material (more like a straight to DVD effort) it was neatly poised for a second forty five that might well garnish the required three points for Millwall.

Mr Jackett made the expected change for the second half and the ineffectual Malone was replaced by Taylor on the left wing and it did make a significant difference. We looked in control straight away and the defensive duties soon went into Leicester’s half as we pressed them hard from the kick off.

N’Guessan had a shot blocked and then Lowry tried a speculative effort that was also well defended by a now clearly pensive Leicester team.

We then had a glorious chance to open the scoring when the very impressive Lowry fired in a arrow like cross that was met by Wood but whether the speed of the cross caught him out or he got his angles wrong is anyone’s guess but he guided the ball agonisingly over the top of the goal from about ten yards out.

We kept up the pressure but Mr Jackett decided more impetus was required and he replaced N’Guessan with Keogh with just over twenty minutes to play and the change reaped instant reward.

Moments after the substitution Keogh was involved straight away and his pass to Trotter saw the big midfielder take the ball into the box at speed and his inch perfect cut back saw Taylor unmarked and he rifled home from close range. 1-0! Beautiful stuff.

We never looked back after this and we really should have sewn the game up. Batt came on for the worn out Wood and the gangly striker had two great chances to increase the score line.

With the away side getting desperate for an equaliser they were left wanting at the back yet both times when Batt scooted goal wards with the ball his composure let him down and he fluffed both chances.

We had the ludicrously tragic sight of young Schmeichel racing forward to assist the Leicester forwards as they forced a couple of late corners in the equally ludicrously tragic five minutes of stoppage time but it was all pantomime stuff with no real threat at all.

The final whistle sounded and the three points were safely in the bag and the promotion push was back on track with the mighty Lions now sitting in sixth place and looking good for it as well. It was not a game that will dwell in the memory banks for too long but it was a well-earned three points against a much fancied side and we thoroughly deserved the win.

We have a tricky match at Brighton coming up on Tuesday night and then it is back to the Den on Saturday for the visit of Barnsley before we break for the festive season so if we get four points from the next two games then we will be in pretty good shape to finish the year off against top of the table Cardiff.

I can’t wait…

"Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war". - (Julius Caesar Act III, Scene I).
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