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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: MILLWALL

4 November 2017

Marvin Sordell's second goal of the season helped the Brewers to a stunning first away victory of the season against ten-man Millwall at The Den.

The striker turned smartly inside the area to control and fire home a speculative low ball into the box from Matty Palmer to give Albion just their second goal on their travels this season and push them back above the relegation line in the Sky Bet Championship albeit with bottom of the table Sunderland having a game in hand on the final whistle of Albion's game.

Albion entered the Lion's Den having not won since mid-September but the second half dismissal of Millwall midfielder Jed Wallace turned the game and allowed Albion to push on and take the points.

Boss Nigel Clough indicated after the Barnsley that changes might be needed as he was true to his word with four changes to the side and a switch in formation for the trip to The Den. After a two game absence through personal reasons and injury, goalkeeper Stephen Bywater returned in goal, this time behind a back four which featured skipper Jake Buxton and Ben Turner in the centre with Kyle McFadzean on the right and Tom Flanagan handed a recall on the left as Stephen Warnock dropped to the bench along with Connor Ripley. Clough stuck with Luke Murphy and Matty Lund in the centre of midfield but added Matty Palmer into the mix as well with Sean Scannell and Lloyd Dyer deployed out wide with the intention of supporting lone striker Sordell. The substitutes bench had something of an attacking look about it with Luke Varney, Lucas Akins and Will Miller, for the first time since his return on a permanent deal from Spurs in the summer, all featuring on the bench.

With the raucous Den crowd behind them Millwall made a positive start and Bywater was the first keeper called into action inside the second minute. The Albion stopper, who had an eighteen month spell with the Lions earlier in his career, was in the right place to catch an effort from Aiden O'Brien after an excellent flick on by experienced striker Steve Morison.

Play was delayed for several minutes before the game had even reached the ten minute mark when Morison and Buxton seemed to clash heads and whilst the Millwall man was quickly on his feet it was the Burton man who required lengthy treatment before continuing with his head swathed in a bandage.

Millwall continued to press and striker Lee Gregory got into an excellent position at the near post to take down a teasing centre from Jed Wallace but his chest trap was unable to sufficiently alow him to shoot as he watched the ball bounce frustratingly behind the goal.

The Burton goal was coming under pressure and it was midfielder George Saville next to test the defensive resolve of the Brewers with a free kick. Ben Turner tangled with Gregory sending him to the floor and from just beyond the angle of the penalty area, Saville sent a left foot curling effort onto the roof of the net.

After another delay for injury, this time Flanagan requiring attention, it was again the movement of the Millwall strikers causing problems and when Gregory ghosted in at the back post looking to get onto a lofted cross he seemed to be favourite to get there until Bywater stretched out an arm to divert it off his head inside the six yard box.

Albion were finding it hard to create chances against the Londoners defence but an incisive move on 37 minutes involving Palmer and Sordell allowed Dyer to burst onto an overlap down the left but his low cross was unable to pick out a yellow shirt darting into the box and the home side were able to clear with relative ease.

The home side came closest yet on 43 minutes as Saville drove at the heart of the defence before forcing Morison slightly wide on the left. The striker picked out a cross to the back post for Wallace to drive into the middle and O'Brien skew a shot over the bar from inside the six yard area. Wallace was close again moments later as O'Brien cut a low cross back for his midfield partner but the Millwall man got his feet all wrong and scuffed a shot wide, withthe aid of a deflection off Ben Turner.

The half ended with a yellow card for Millwall left back James Meredith who seemed to catch Lund late as the Albion man tried to launch one late attack with the half deep into stoppage time.

Half time: Millwall 0 - 0 Burton Albion

Millwall continued to press for that elusive opening at the start of the second half but they were indebted to their skipper Tony Craig on 50 minutes as Palmer linked up with Dyer to give the winger a chance to drill in a low cross that was hacked clear at the expense of Albion's first corner of the contest. Palmer's delivery into the middle was good and there certainly looked to be a case for Turner being hauled to the ground as he tried to get up to head it but the ball ended up drifting over everyone and out.

There was consternation around The Den on 58 minutes when referee Tony Harrington reached into his pocket and showed a red card to Wallace. The midfielder certainly caught Flanagan after the defender had knocked the ball past him and most inside the ground expected him to flash the yellow card to the Millwall man. Instead the home side were left to play the remaining half an hour a man light. In doing so the game swung in Albion's favour as they took control of the midfield and became more adventurous going forwards.

The 63rd minute saw a trio of substitutions as both sides looked to win it in the final quarter of the game. Albion sent on Akins for Scannell on the right whilst Millwall made a double change to bring Ben Thompson and Tom Elliott into the game as replacements for O'Brien and Morison.

It was SORDELL though that broke the deadlock on 70 minutes with Albion's first goal on the road since August. Searching for an opeing, options were limited when Palmer had the ball at his feet so the midfielder drove the ball into the danger area where it came to the feet of the Albion striker. Turning sharply he shot across Jordan Archer and Conor McLaughlin was powerless on the line to stop it going in.

Before restarting Albion made a second change with Flanagan withdrawn for the experience of Warnock at the back.

Turner also found himself in referee Harrington's book for a late challenge on Gregory as the home side tried to burst forward and restore parity.

Millwall's forward play began to get a bit desperate with long balls forward in the hope of finding Elliott but Albion were still defending resiliently and preventing sny clear chances. Gregory had one moment when space seemed to open up inside the area but a combination of Buxton and Warnock made sure that Bywater was not called into serious action.

Albion sent Luke Varney on for the final seven minutes to replace Sordell and provide fresh legs to try and stretch a home defence that had to push forwards in search of an equaliser. In response Millwall called upon Fred Onyedinma as an extra attacking, left back Meredith sacrificed at the back.

Bywater incurred the ire of referee Harrington by trying to run the clock down and saw yellow for his indiscretion in taking his time over a goal kick.

With the game in added time. Akins showed excellent industry to feed Palmer who in turn found Dyer. The winger waited his opportunity before drilling low across the face of goal with Varney inches away from poaching a late goal that would have put the game to bed.

There was a final late scare for Albion when Onyedinma raced through with Bywater diving at his feet to deny him only for the ball to find the feet of Gregory who smashed a shot against the post. As the ball came out referee Harrington brought the game to a close and Albion had their first away since Easter weekend last season to send players and fans into the upcoming international break in good spirits.


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