Lolley 27 Carvalho 70
Williams 74 Gregory 90+1
BY JAKE SANDERS AT THE CITY GROUND
After being on the receiving end of so many late goals recently, it was Millwall’s turn to produce last-gasp drama at the City Ground on Wednesday night.
Lee Gregory bagged his fourth goal of the campaign in stoppage-time to earn the South Londoners a totally-deserved point.
It looked to be turning into a carbon copy of last season’s game beside the Trent. Back in August 2017, the newly-promoted Lions battered Forest on the opening day fixture but lost 1-0.
And again in midweek it was Millwall who dominated virtually every statistic that mattered but surprisingly it took them until the 74th minute to beat Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
Shaun Williams’ header was Millwall’s first goal on the road since Ryan Tunnicliffe netted at Hillsborough last month, a run of more than six hours.
It’s the first time since November 2016 that Neil Harris’ side have come from two goals behind to earn a positive result in a league match – then it was a 3-2 success at Bury in League One.
The point against Forest was not enough for Millwall to climb out of the relegation zone, but the manner of the result will give them much-needed confidence ahead of their clash against managerless Aston Villa at The Den tomorrow.
The opening goal was a crisp strike from Joe Lolley and Joao Carvalho’s 70th minute free-kick –-just three minutes after the players had returned from a lengthy delay due to a floodlight failure – perfectly summed up Millwall’s luck of late.
The Portuguese playmaker, a £13.2million summer signing fron Benfica, produced a perfectly-struck free-kick that seemed to be heading for the top corner without any difficulty. But Ben Amos flung himself across and despite getting a hand to it, it came down off the crossbar and into the net. So near, yet so far, comes to mind.
With 20 shots – 10 on target – the Lions should have been ahead, but instead they were staring down the barrel at a seventh Championship defeat in eight games. It was all too familiar of a story, especially on the road.
But this time – unlike recent defeats at Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Queens Park Rangers and West Brom – it was different. From the moment Williams nodded home from Ferguson’s delicious in-swinging cross, Millwall could smell blood.
There were almost 26,000 in attendance at the City Ground but the pocket off 387 away fans behind the Bridgford Stand goal were all that could be heard.
Forest supporters were silent – anxious and worried. You could have heard a pin drop at the time Tom Bradshaw headed home from Williams’ corner to equalise.
In fact, it wasn’t an equaliser as referee Jonathan Moss came to their rescue and ruled it out for a foul on a Forest defender.
Harris and his coaching staff were distraught. They thought a perfectly legitimate leveller had been torn away from them. They felt aggrieved, to put it lightly.
But with Steve Morison, Bradshaw, Gregory and Aiden O’Brien all on the pitch, Forest were getting deeper and deeper. The equaliser eventually came when the clock hit 90 minutes.
Morison and Ryan Leonard – who is growing with every performance – combined before the latter found Gregory, who was right on cue to tap home a deserved leveller.
With just over 90 seconds remaining, Millwall immediately retrieved possession and if Ferguson had shown a little more composure, they would have been celebrating one of their best and most memorable victories in recent seasons.
It wasn’t meant to be, the Northern Ireland international fired wide. A point was good, though.
Millwall will be looking to build on that against Villa, who are without a victory on the road since the opening day of the season. It might only have been a draw and Millwall failed to improve their lowly league position, but it was by far their most impressive performance of the season.
Millwall (4-4-2): Amos 6, Romeo 7, Cooper 7, M Wallace 6, Meredith 6 (Bradshaw 75), Skalak 6 (O’Brien 67, 6), Williams 6, Leonard 7, Ferguson 7, Elliott 7 (Morison 75), Gregory 8. Not used: Archer, McLaughlin, Webster, Tunnicliffe.
IMAGES BY BRIAN TONKS