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Millwall 1-1 Sheff Wed ~ Match Musings

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Midweek football is back at the Den for the second time this year and what a contrast to the last time, do you recall? It was the start of a new year, so new hopes and expectations although slightly skewed through too much holiday good cheer and no L factor but still we suffered a lacklustre defeat with no real sense of wellbeing. Fast forward to life under Mr Holloway and I may have imagined it but I detected a bit of a buzz about the place before the kick-off, not a full on rose coloured tint type of buzz but a definite buzz of sorts.

The visit of Sheff Wed would not cause these feelings I can reasonably assume so it must be the new managers charisma rubbing off already. We are in interesting times now, the lads have had their preseason training boot camp in Portugal and arrived back looking fitter than they have all season, which wasn’t too difficult really as they have been about as fit as a poorly tuned Stradivarius at times.

Now I am not casting aspersions on the previous fitness regime, heaven forfend, but the lads by their own admissions have been left more or less to their own devices thus far but now under Mr Holloway’s guidance we will see, I am confident, a new revitalised squad of professional footballers rather than the rag tag bunch of misfits we have been used to.

New signings as well, DJ Campbell and Shaun Williams both on the bench as Mr Holloway’s team building process starts in earnest, one imagines more to follow and more to leave before the window closes at the end of the month but the line-up for this game had a reasonably familiar look about it as we saw Bywater in goal (Forde still injured), Fredericks, Lowry, Shittu and Malone at the back, Bailey and trotter in the centre of midfield, Woolford, Martin and Keogh as the three in front of the two with Morison working the line up front.

No McDonald on show (rested?) seemed to be the main talking point before the game kicked off.

Wednesday looked like a big, burly outfit with a no nonsense approach but we had enough steel in our staring line up to match them. In fact right from the whistle our revitalised up tempo game took hold as Kirkland was clearly the busier of the two keepers as we pushed and prodded our way through the rough house tactics of our surly northern counter parts.

Shittu got a header in and then Morison, clearly looking more revitalised, flashed an effort across the face of the goal as the Lions dominated the early passages of play.

Martin had a glorious chance to get the opener as he wangled a route through on goal but his finishing technique needs a bit of refining as he fired straight at Kirkland with the goal begging to be filled.

It was mainly one way traffic as we pressed them hard, Morison in particular working his socks off and causing them problems all over the front line.

We did not have it all our own way though and a mistake by Bailey saw the Owls break down the left flank and as the ball was centred it looked like a certain goal but the woeful attempt by Nuhiu was quite comical.

A second attempt by Wednesday was just as lame, a wayward effort by Maguire that brought howls of derision from the CBL as the ball nestled high up in block 10 but the warning signs were there though that if we let our guard down they would capitalise (or at least attempt to).

We were clearly the better team though and some of the fast flowing football was very encouraging to see given some of the tripe we had been used to this season, the players seem to have embraced the Holloway way and thank the Gods of football for that small mercy.

When the first half ended the general feeling was that we were ahead on points but needed to be wary of the old sucker punch…

The second half saw us pick up the same tempo and the busy Morison almost bagged a goal as he got a looping header over Kirkland but the agile ‘keeper made a stunning save, managing to arc his body backwards and tipping the ball over the bar for a corner.

We then had a not so stunning save from Bywater as he fumbled the ball badly from a simple cross and the ball bounced perilously close to the goal line but the quick reactions of our number two ‘keeper saw him scoop the ball away before in went in.

But despite these sorts of warning bells, when the disaster occurred, it still seemed very unjust. Wednesday managed to rescue the ball in the middle of the pitch and a simple through ball split the defence and we watched in horror as Coke waltzed the ball round Bywater, who rushed out too early in my humble opinion, and then plonked the ball into the empty unguarded goal. 0-1. Totally against the run of play and a real kick in the clunkers.

But the Lions have developed a bit of a backbone now under Mr Holloway and the heads did not drop and the fight was still in them. It was good to see. Wednesday thought we would capitulate and pressed quickly for a second goal but Bywater redeemed himself with a decent save from a goal bound header.

The game then sort of descended into a bit of a farce with the referee who will not be named as the prick seems to like any publicity he can get, calling all sorts of strange decisions. This grinning, jackanapes mugging away to all and sundry with his overstated ‘thumbs up’ after every calamitous wrong decision was overshadowing a rather sterling Millwall performance.


There were two penalty decisions not given. No change there then you may think, the first one, Williams, on for Bailey, upended as he prepared to connect with a cross from Woolford was, perhaps a 70/40 but moments later when Campbell, on for Keogh burst through into the penalty area, he was clearly bundled over but again the clot with the whistle, gurning like a village idiot, waved play on.

With ten minutes of play left we finally got a break. Another clueless decision by the ref actually worked in our favour. Morison went down injured in their six yard box and just lay there, prone and virtually unmoving. Normal referees would have stopped play. Not this one, doing his finest impression of Adam Sandler in the Waterboy, he let play go on all around the stricken striker.

At least our lot decided to go with the flow and instead of booting the ball out of play we went for goal and as the cross came in it looked like Trotter had got the equaliser as he rose to head the ball goal wards but the ball hit the post, bounced down and right into the path of Campbell who had the easiest of debut goals he will ever had scored. 1-1! And thoroughly deserved it was too.

Of course, the Owls started howling at the ref, pointing to the prone Morison and demanding swift retribution but the oafish ref stuck his head down in his shoulders, shrugged and trotted off to re start the game.

The finale to this game was fraught and fractious at times and this spilled over into a free for all wild west type punch up in the last minute of normal time when the ball was down by our corner flag and Lowry challenged robustly to get the ball from Coke who took umbrage at this and threw Lowry to the deck. Fitness levels had clearly improved for the Lions as the whole fucking team sprinted over to get involved, Bywater deserved a special mention for taking down their colossus of a player who had to be led away by a team mate before exacting any sort of revenge.

Apparently, a copper fell arse over head trotting along the East Lower to help prevent some of our crowd from assisting the players in helping the Owls players to calm the fuck down so look out for that on you tube any time soon.

When it had all calmed down the expected red cards were flourished and Lowry and Coke did the walk of shame (except Lowry was given a standing ovation).

Eight minutes of injury time saw more drama and another diabolical decision by the inept officials. A fifty-fifty ball into their half saw Campbell racing to get the ball with Kirkland attempting the same feat. Campbell won the race and hit the ball goal wards only for Kirkland to pull off a stunning save, parrying the ball away to safety… the only thing wrong with that was Kirkland was only about ten yards outside his fucking area…

As expected, the asinine, imbecilic, fatuous, puerile (stop me when you’ve had enough adjectives?) referee gave his usual double thumbs up to Kirkland followed by a pantomime wink to cap it off as he waved [play on.

We had one last effort from the very Busy Morison but his low shot was saved comfortably by Kirkland and this was the last action of a somewhat full-blooded game.

It was an enjoyable game though, despite silly bollocks refereeing, and the positives were many for us to take away. The hubbub was there to hear from the departing crowd which is always a good sign at Millwall, the tide seems to be turning and although we lost two points the overall feeling of work in progress and looking good was there in abundance for all to see.

Reading on Saturday will be a tough test but they play football and are not renowned for the physical game that Wednesday brought so it will be a different test for the new Holloway regime to encounter.

I can’t wait…

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever," he said. "Have you thought of going into refereeing?”
Terry Pratchett
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