Millwall 1-1 Bolton ~ Match Musings

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So, the wheels wobbled at Yeovil but they didn’t exactly fall off the wagon for the Lions who gained a valuable away point against a rival team also fighting for their Championship status. I guess it was an improvement from the inaugural game of the season at home so we must have improved since then…

But let us not dwell in the past, today’s visitors to the Den were Bolton, a team also flirting with the evil temptress that is relegation, that scheming, evil, almost seductive mistress that entices the unwary into her evil, mesmeric clutches. Or is that Sirens? I always mix them up…

Anyway, the fact of the matter in hand was that we were facing, in our little part of the world, a bit of an important game, a chance to distance ourselves from the fall g.u.y.s in the bottom three and leap frog our opponents in the process by registering our second win under new management.

Mr Holloway is clearly doing things his way and this has been reflected in the current comings and goings and although I believe he is a very astute and clever manager I feel he may be up against it with our squad of players who may be struggling to comprehend his ideas and put them into practice.

Time will sort this issue out but time is our enemy at the moment, we have none to waste and need to utilise every second of it.

The team Mr Holloway put out for this game looked pretty staid and sensible as a 4-4-2 set up Forde in goal, Fredericks at right back, Malone at left back, Shittu and Dunne as the centre backs, Woolf…..hang about….what the fuck did I just type back there? Dunne at centre back? Did I say staid and sensible…but, yes, I did say that and why not, Dunne could be our new Alan Dorney (look him up, you young pups), Mr utility man, a man for all seasons etc, who knows, not me to quote David Bowie…

Soooooo…as I was typing, Woolford and Martin as the wide men, Williams and Upson in the middle leaving Easter and Morison as the strike force.

The crowd, fairly rumbustious, wasn’t as large as it should have been considering the importance of this game but still lively enough to cheer the lads on their way as the ref got the game going and we settled down quickly, the old fashioned formation seeming to fit in with our players mental capacities, and we played some very neat and positive stuff. We were moving the ball about, retaining possession and causing Bolton a few problems.

Upson looked completely at ease for his home debut and it was he who created a half chance for Morison early on, snaking a tidy pass through but as Morison was about to pull the trigger the ball was unceremoniously thumped away by a Bolton defender.

Upson and Williams seemed to have a bit of rapport going which is very encouraging and even though Dunne had a couple of boot spinning clearances, he didn’t look exactly like a duck out of water in his new position.
Morison and Easter were very busy up front and the Martin/Woolford wing play was working but the crossing at times was, shall we say, a bit wayward?

If one thing has been a bit of a common factor this whole season it is our inability to capitalise on possession and dominance and this pattern unfortunately continued when against the run of the play Bolton mustered what can only be described as a half chance when a hopeful ball was crossed into our box by Eagles.

It should have been dealt with comfortably and perhaps this sort of thing is where a regular centre back rather than a make shift one would have been better suited as Dunne misjudged the flight of the ball allowing Jutkiewitz to get a glancing header that crept in at the far post with Forde stranded. 0-1.

What is different under Mr Holloway is how the team respond to setbacks and no heads dropped and gears were changed upwards as we went in search of an equaliser. Martin fired in a cross that Woolford got to and from a tight angle he beat the ‘keeper only for the ball to be somehow cleared off the line by Wheater and then we watched open jawed as what looked like a clear cut penalty was turned down when Upson was taken out and then we watched in abject misery as we again forced the visitors onto the back foot with a glorious chance for Easter to score as ‘keeper Bogdan parried the ball to Easter’s feet and with the ‘keeper floundering on the floor Easter’s tame effort was easily cleared off the line by Baptiste when a goal looked certain.

It was all one way traffic but the elusive equaliser would not materialise. Mr Holloways, face, usually suffering a reddish tint now looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression, he was more animated than Pinocchio on speed trying to impress the great Stromboli at times but if nothing else his enthusiasm is generating into his players and they have clearly adopted a never say die attitude that has been missing for far too long.

The half time whistle saw respite for Bolton and stilted applause from the home crowd who, I hope, appreciated what they were watching.

No changes to start the second half and the Lions carried on pretty much where they left off, but Mr Holloway gave it until about ten minutes in before he decided to take matters intio his own hands again by making a triple substitution.

Off came Easter for Jackson, off came Upson for Campbell and off came Martin for McDonald.

That’s a lot of strikers on the pitch again, Mr Holloway…

But, they blended in nicely, Campbell and Jackson moving into the forward positions with Morison playing wide and McDonald just behind the front two, we were still causing Bolton problems but the goal would not materialise, McDonald crossing for Campbell who headed over was the closest we came before we almost got caught out with a sucker punch from a wobbly opponent.

Poor old Dunne again out of sorts as a through ball saw him caught out but Baptiste had fortunately started his run early and although he finished well he was clearly about a yard off side and the flag was up immediately.

We carried on bombarding the visitors but again we were masters of our own culpabilities when on around the 80 minute mark a simple forward ball punted into our box looked like it was going out for a goal kick but Shittu went for it anyway and it looked like he had put it out for an unnecessary corner but the ref saw something else and pointed to the spot for a penalty.

10,000 heads went straight into their hands as Jutkiewitz gleefully plonked the ball on the spot for what looked like what would be the likely winner.

Jutkiewitz strode up and fired low to Forde’s right but the Irish international guessed correctly and pulled off a smart save down low. The cheer was as good as if we had scored a goal and the crowd’s tempo went into over drive as a self-belief suddenly encapsulated all and sundry.

It gave the players a real lift and within a few minutes we got our breakthrough we deserved. A bit of a scuffed clearance by Forde was helped on through midfield and the ball found Morison out wide.

Morison raced forward and sent in a delicious cross that Jackson got on the end of but again we were thwarted by a point blank save by Bogdan when a goal looked certain. Groans were replaced immediately by cheers as Woolford collected the loose ball a fired in from an outrageous angle for 1-1.

We went all out for the winner but despite battering the Bolton defence they held firm and at the final whistle the home crowd were very obliging even though we knew it was actually two points dropped I think we saw enough out there to give us some semblance of hope that this season might not be a write off after all.

But of course, we still have to suffer the buffoons who purport to ‘support’ Millwall who will decry anything and everything negative as sure signs that it is all going wrong but I liken them to people who drop rose petals down into the Grand Canyon and muster their disappointment when they hear no echo.

Or idiots as you probably call them…

And now we have another big game that is fast approaching with Barnsley away next up and again it is a game we can ill afford to lose. But we need to be realists now. Mr Holloway needs time that is not available so we can and must expect some torturous times ahead until the mathematics decree we are not doomed to life in the lower league.

Keep the faith. Just keep the faith?

The thought constructed itself a piece at a time, like an incomplete jigsaw. “Think, don't panic.”
Terry Pratchett,

Updated 16-02-2014 at 03:26 PM by FairweatherFan

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