Millwall 2-3 Birmingham ~ Match Musings

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Right, here we go again, yet another ‘must win’ game, this time the midlands also ran’s of Birmingham came to town. Looking precariously over their shoulders, they didn’t exactly have the fortitude about them to take anything for granted and in fact, were ripe enough for plucking by a Millwall side desperate to try and get a foothold onto the safety step outside the bottom three.

I myself am struggling at the moment to comprehend exactly why we are so deep in the mire. The voice of reason often calls me but I usually find it is a wrong number and I find myself believing that ‘this time’ will be different. I am usually disappointed these days.

The gods of football, are, for want of a better word, bastards; They like to cajole the unwary fan into some sort of bewildered fugue and then quietly slip their hands into boxing gloves complete with a horseshoe for good measure then proceed the pummel the living daylights out of you until your crass stupidity for garnishing a smidgeon of hope has been crushed like grape in the hands of a psychotic gorilla.

We are bearing the hallmarks of a doomed team. Mr Holloway, bless him, is giving it a go but like a sad facsimile of catweazle he must be shaking his head and muttering ‘nothing works…nothing works’ with that sad forlorn look of the little boy who Santa Claus forgot.

When Deano ‘last man’ Standing advised us that we were going 3-4-3 the worried looks on the faces around me told their own story. It smacked of, not so much desperation but more a case of “shit or bust” as the saying goes.

Forde in goal, Dunne, Robinson and Lowry as the back three, Fredericks, Garvan, Abdou and Woolford in the middle with McDonald, Morison and Campbell as the front three.

A subdued home crowd watched in bland almost zombie like trance as the ref got the game going, a few yells of encouragement from some of the more tolerant fans soon drifted off into the cold night air as we went about our business.

The script, of course, had long been written and more fool those who thought any differently. We dominated for the opening spells, Morison doing plenty of running, winning all the headers and generally causing problems. He had a couple of quick chances that brought out desperate saves by Brummie ‘keeper Randolph and then missed a glorious chance to open his and the Lions account but he hit his shot miles over the bar from about ten yards out.

And of course, after the opening twenty odd minutes of Millwall pressure the inevitable first attack from the visitors brought the opening goal. Failure to clear the lines again and then a tame looking shot from Ibe scuttled along the floor and nestled the ball into the bottom corner of Forde’s net. 0-1. How fucking unusual.

It felt like being disembowelled by a ham-fisted incompetent butcher, slow and painful but instead of just rolling over and accepting that the aforementioned bastards in the heavens were having their sport, we went in search of an equaliser and wonder of wonders, some ten minutes later and after some sterling resurgence, we cobbled together a move that culminated in Morison beasting his way through and firing a ball across the face of the goal that cannoned of Birmingham’s Robinson and into the net. 1-1! And not a single E-I-O was given…how strange…

So now we could kick on and put these fuckers to the sword, surely?
Nah, not really, despite giving the impression of moving forward I fear we were just treading water and slowly sinking beneath the waves of indifference.

Not even five minutes had elapsed before we fell behind again. This time it was an absolute softest of soft goals, the back three got caught napping, a text book cross into the box and a simple header past Forde made it 1-2.

The 3-4-3 then got changed to a flat back 4 with Fredericks dropping into the right back position and Dunne going over to play at being a left back.

We didn’t look dangerous and we didn’t look capable of getting back on level terms but even so a free kick on the stroke of half time by Garvan almost regained parity but it was not to be, in fact, it was as expected. The lads trooped off at the whistle looking slightly forlorn and a tad disconsolate.

We were spitting feathers…

Mr Holloway realised the need for change before the second half commenced so we saw two immediate changes, Dunne came off and Jackson came on and Lowry made way for Beevers. I think we went for a 4-1-2-2-1 formation but your guess is as good as mine, but we certainly looked different.

We soon saw how the depths of despair can be in synch with the depths of disbelief when within minutes of the restart we watched as Campbell hooked a ball inside their box that was blatantly handled by their defender but the ref decided it was a corner kick required, not a penalty, his clear gestures to the apoplectic Millwall players was that “he wasn’t intentional”. It was an appalling decision.

It was made all the more appalling because a few minutes later we had to watch as Birmingham counter attacked with Burke outsprinting Woolford and crossing for the bean pole Zigic to head their third goal from close range. 1-3 and our fate was more or less sealed.

We had a go, of course we did, but we knew we were never coming back even with most of the half left to play. Abdou showed why his goal scoring ability is almost non-existent, shooting miles over the bar when a little composure and a little skill would have seen a Millwall second goal and then Garvan also showed that he didn’t know where the target was either, missing comfortably with next to no effort at all.

Mr Holloway, looking like a man who had come home from a hard days work in the field only to find the larder empty and the vodka bottle drained of what little relief it might offer made his last change, bringing on Maierhofer for DJ Campbell with about 30 minutes still to play and the big galoot almost got a goal with his first touch, his header at the far post just going the wrong side of the post.

Woolford had a chance to shine, finding himself with the ball just outside the box but even though he took his time and steadied himself he still managed to hit the ball high into the stands. We had more chances, Garvan with a header, Jackson with a shot on target that Randolph saved and Maierhofer did little to endear himself to the frustrated crowd by gesturing at every opportunity trying to whip up some sort of faux frenzy as if that was all that was missing. He has a lot to learn…

With the clocking ticking down into the final few minutes we actually got a penalty awarded when Jackson fell over. He got up and dusted himself down in the time honoured fashion and put the ball away to make it 2=3 and I can’t remember a less muted response to a Millwall goal for some time.

Amazingly, we still had one final chance to draw level but Beevers managed to tamely head the ball straight into the grateful arms of Randolph deep into stoppage time after Garvan had floated in a free kick.

The final whistle brought forth the obvious cat calls and boos but the sad realisation as the other results filtered in made the strains of despair evaporate as we realised we were now rock bottom of the league and that is probably about right.

It is not so much the fact that we are staring relegation in its jaundiced eye that hurts it is the faint hope that we might escape it that hurts more. That faint, ridiculous hope that keeps you clinging on to a dream, cancelling out your rational thoughts and the logical assumptions and cold hard realisation that you are currently the worst team in the league.

The gods, bastards one and all, are poking us with a sharp stick at the moment and the bubble is about to burst, I fear. I have never wanted a season to end as much as I do right now, I will accept the fact that we are going down, I won’t enjoy it, why would I, but until the mathematics tell me we are down I just cannot stop that horrendous little voice in my head saying “ stranger things have happened”.

It won’t be strange if we survive, it will be a fucking miracle.

“But at least the way was clear now. When you step off a cliff, your life takes a very definite direction.”
Terry Pratchett
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    The Gods of football line will be duly stolen , thankyou.