FairweatherFan

Millwall 0-1 Huddersfield ~ Match Musings

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After the bitter disappointment of the Ipswich game last week our expectations had a week to reboot to default to the usual, ridiculous levels as we welcomed Huddersfield Town into the Den to see if the Lions could at last find some teeth and bit a chunk out of the arses of a journeyman team from the backwaters of that godforsaken place called Yorkshire.

A week has passed and the internet has been awash with armchair critics explaining what they would do and how they would do it and there has been some alarming comments from the man himself to boot, and it all adds to the heady cocktail mix of why some of us turn up to see the outcome despite our inner self expressing a far more intelligent view.

The Den has, in recent years, become a cauldron of despair. Not so much a cauldron of hate as some might want you to believe, but a truly desperate place to go and watch the Lions play and that in itself is a serious issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Only 9,000 Millwall fans bothered to turn up for this game (with a smattering of away fans ‘boosting’ the attendance to a heady 9,503) and unless we get a radical improvement that figure will drop with each game like an undertaker’s nail in a coffin lid.

There is no escaping the fact that Steve Lomas has more than a small hillock to climb at the moment, an unpopular choice before a ball was even kicked, even more so now after two defeats out of two with no goals to celebrate at all. He still seems unaware of the festering hatred that has been building up amongst the fan base and he thinks that quoting from the vast well of footballing clichés will appease.
He is wrong.

A chance to redeem his abject failure (so far) was now in front of him, a chance to show the fans that he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it, no square pegs in hexagonal holes, a team built around stability and familiarity, a team that can virtually pick itself, but yet again, more eyebrow raising ensued amongst the faithful that would put Roger Moore to shame as the team was announced.

Bywater in goal, Dunne at right back, Shittu and Beevers in the centre of defence with Lowry out at left back. The midfield quartet composed of Chaplow on the right wing, Derry and Bailey in the middle with Henry over on the left wing and that left Morison and Easter up front.

Lomas is still clearly experimenting which is a worry in itself but the fundamental problem reminds me of dear old Eric Morecombe playing the piano with Andre Previn all those years ago, you remember , Eric was playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.

We started off quite brightly and in fact looked quite composed and purposeful. The ball was not being hoofed up field at the earliest opportunity, the midfield were seeing more of the ball and the game was kept relatively low down on the floor, which was nice.

Easter, in particular was very busy indeed and he had the ball in the net early on but the whistle had clearly gone for a Morison hand ball so there wasn’t no real explosion of joy from the sparsely populated stands, but it was an encouraging start, none the less.

We kept the pressure on the visitors and the chances were forthcoming. Nick bailey had a crack from distance that was always going adrift but soon after Henry hit over a cross that found Morison’s head but Morison nor his head could find the target.

It wasn’t hugely entertaining football, I have to say but it was better than the previous two games (which in truth wasn’t hard to do), as we pushed and pulled the game with no end result for all our endeavours. We nearly came unstuck on the half hour mark, Shittu, again looking far from match fit, got himself caught out as Vaughan ambled past him and honed in on goal. Bywater earned his keep though, racing out and narrowing the angle and finally saving comfortably as Vaughan tried to chip him.

We were soon back in the driving seat though and it was Morison again who failed to capitalise on a very well executed counter attack, Alan Dunne making a fine cross only for Morison to again misguide his header over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Even Derry found room to move forward a furnish a shot that was blocked for one of a few corners that all came to nothing (as per usual, it has to be noted)

We had a couple of scares when Huddersfield did venture into our area, a dipping shot from Norwood had the Norvern monkeys oohing and ahhing but it was always going over and then again we had Bywater to thank as he cut out an ominous move that had Paterson veering goalwards.

This actually led to our closest chance of the half as Bywater immediately went long ball and this time it almost paid off as the bounce caught out the Huddersfield defence and Morison got his head to the ball and got it on target but the acrobatics of ‘keeper Smithies kept the score at 0-0.

There was just enough time left for Morison to have yet another header at goal that was deflected away for yet another fruitless corner.

The half ended soon after and the general consensus of opinion was that it wasn’t too bad but again the thought that we hadn’t capitalised on our dominance would come back to haunt us.

No changes for the second half for the Lions and we started the half well enough, Easter, looking very sharp indeed , set up henry who again showed a worrying profligacy in front of goal, firing way over the bar when it looked relatively easy to at least make the ‘keeper do some work.

Ten minutes in and the visitors made a substitution. It was an inspired act, probably, as it led almost immediately to the opening goal. You know the goal I mean, the one that Lomas was quoted as saying means that the team who scores it in the Championship normally goes on to win the game…

And from a corner, just to run salt in the wounds. A simple cross that should have been dealt with was left to Dunne and he failed to get to it leaving Vaughan to replicate the simple header that we saw us concede at Ipswich last week, no lessons learnt there then… 0-1.

Of course, we have seen this before, on numerous occasions unfortunately, as a dominant display turns into total capitulation and panic stations. We unravelled quicker than your granny’s knitting in a cat’s home.

It was nearly 0-2 soon after when Vaughan tried an exceptionally difficult overhead kick that nearly paid dividends.

Lomas again showed his reactive trait by deeming this enough for him to make a change. But as he has shown in the previous couple of games, his changes make little or no sense to the watching fans. Easter, clearly our biggest influence and threat up front was hauled off in favour of McDonald. No problem with McDonald coming on but the world and his mother was expecting Morison to be the fall guy, his lack lustre contribution and woefully ineptitude in front of goal clearly endearing him to our new manager, for some obscure reason…

Lomas also took off our right winger (Chaplow) and sent on our left winger in his place (Martin) thus moving Henry back over to the right to accommodate the new left winger. It was like a fucking ending to SOAP; confused, you will be…

I have a feeling that Huddersfield twigged we were out of ideas and just set their stall out to keep it at 0-1, no doubt manager Robins had already drummed Lomas’ mantra down their throats in regards to the first goal wins, as it just became a game of half-hearted attempts that never really looked like causing them any real problems at all.

The mood of the crowd was strangely subdued where we were, maybe it was more vociferous elsewhere, but the feeling of impending doom was there and it showed. When, with twenty minutes still to play, Lomas took off Henry and sent on Keogh, your guess was as good as mine as to what formation they adopted.

Someone near me compared it to Mike Bassett’s Christmas pudding, and they were probably somewhere near the mark.

When Shittu galumphed forward as a make shift striker, we knew the game was up. It was about as poignant a moment as a Livermore shot that ended up in the west upper. What little crowd we had moved en masse for the exits.

We had a smattering of ‘nearly’ moments, Morison again showing he can’t head a ball with any conviction, managing to hit that sweet spot for any ‘keeper, right into his arms, and although Dunne had a speculative shot brilliantly saved by Smithies, it was all a waste of time and effort.

Even with five minutes of phantom injury time was never going to be enough for jus, Bailey had a snap shot that went wide and really, that was the end of that. The boo’s at the end were somewhat half hearted, I thought, as the sheer desperateness of the situation was washing over those who had stayed to the bitter end.

The statto’s were soon on the case, 30 odd years since we lost all three opening games, back to the early 1900’s for not winning or scoring a goal in the first three games, if Lomas thought he had a task on his hands taking on this job then he might want to look up the Greek story of Sisyphus because I reckon he has a bigger task on his hands now than when he first got the job.

We now have three away games to contemplate, in the league up at Sheff Wed and then Brighton and the visit to Forest in the league cup. It might be a bit of a godsend actually to get away from the Den as the cauldron of despair you recall, I mentioned at the beginning (no, don’t scroll back to the start, I really did mention it) will soon become the very real cauldron of hate and it will not be a very pleasant place at all for anyone.

“Progress just means bad things happen faster.”
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
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    Brilliant.