Bolton Wanderers 2 Millwall 1 – Lions suffer drop-fight setback at the Macron Stadium

BY JAKE SANDERS

Millwall remain deep in relegation trouble after they slipped to their fourth straight Championship defeat – going down 2-1 against Bolton Wanderers.

Pawel Olkowski put the hosts ahead just three minutes into the second-half before Gary O’Neil doubled their lead just past the hour mark. Lee Gregory bagged his first league goal since December 15, but it was no more than a consolation for the Lions.

With Rotherham United losing at Sheffield United earlier in the day, it means that Neil Harris’ side remain just one point above the drop-zone with 10 matches remaining.

In a drab first-half affair, it took Millwall 30 minutes to create their first chance of the game, but even then, Tom Elliott was unable to direct Shane Ferguson’s corner on target.

Moments later the Northern Ireland international whipped over another cross that Gregory flicked on at the near-post, but Jack Hobbs read the danger well and made a crucial intervention just as Elliott looked favourite to nod home from six yards.

Up the other end Bolton went close twice in quick succession, but neither Olkowski nor Sammy Ameobi were able to test Jordan Archer from distance, with both of their powerful efforts sailing wide of his left-hand post.

The hosts should have gone into the break with their noses in front. O’Neil fired over a corner right into the danger-zone at the end of the first-half that Callum Connolly somehow failed to convert at the back-post, scuffing narrowly wide.

But just three minutes into the second period, Phil Parkinson’s side did break the deadlock. Connolly found Olkowski in space on the right and the Pole beat James Meredith before curling a fine strike into the bottom left-hand corner, leaving Archer with no chance.

The Lions responded well and should have levelled almost immediately. Alex Pearce – making his full league debut for the club – met another Ferguson corner, but Joe Williams was in the right place to block his header off the line before Remi Matthews claimed.

Despite Millwall’s pressure, Wanderers doubled their lead less than two minutes later. Williams was again involved, this time putting O’Neil clean through, and he advanced to the edge of the box, twisting and turning Mahlon Romeo before arrowing a crisp strike into the far corner.

Williams fired over from 18 yards, while Ben Thompson stung the palms of Remi Matthews as the Lions looked for a lifeline.

Millwall went even closer on 81 minutes as Jed Wallace fired towards the far corner, but Matthews was there again, preventing Gregory from bundling home the rebound.

The Lions forward did eventually get on the scoresheet on 87 minutes. The lively Wallace crossed, and Gregory wonderfully flicked past Matthews at the near-post to make it 2-1. It was just his second goal of 2019 and first in the league since the defeat at Preston North End before Christmas.

And deep into stoppage-time Ben Thompson almost completed a miraculous recovery for the visitors, but Matthews held on to his long-range strike before Gregory headed over in the last action of an eventful second-half.

PICTURES BY SEAN GOSLING