Lions show they have qualities to fight through adversity – but more injuries to contend with after battling point at Ashton Gate

Cooper 52 og
Williams 78

Bouncebackability, resilience, never-say-die attitude, strength of character, fighting spirit – call it whatever you want, it’s clear that Millwall have those qualities in spades.

No matter what anyone says or how they say it, the Lions have what it takes to overcome setbacks.
And that stands them in good stead as Neil Harris’s side try to fight their way out of the Championship relegation zone.

Despite going into action at Ashton Gate on the back of a 2-0 home defeat by Birmingham and without injured strikers Lee Gregory, Tom Elliott and Tom Bradshaw – plus the suspended Ryan Leonard – Millwall rose to every challenge that was thrown at them.

Things had been looking good at Ashton Gate after a first half that saw the hosts comfortably kept at arm’s length for most of the opening 45 minutes. The only notable scare came when Famara Diedhiou headed against Jordan Archer’s crossbar.

Bolstered by a promising half, there was a spring in the Lions’ step after the break as their own threat level increased with Aiden O’Brien, starting in place of Gregory, went close to opening the deadlock when he latched on to Shane Ferguson’s cross but his low shot was tipped to safety by Niki Maenpaa in the 47th minute.

It proved to be a false dawn and five minutes later Millwall were behind as Lady Luck turned against the visitors.

The otherwise impressive Jake Cooper blotted his copybook when he made a meal of clearing Niclas Eliasson’s inviting cross into the corridor of uncertainty along the six-yard box.

The centre-back did well to spot the danger but in attempting to clear his lines with his right foot, the ball rebounded off his left foot and looped beyond Archer and into the net.

They say goals change games and that was certainly the case on this occasion – because the Lions were suddenly up against it.

That’s because City showed glimpses of the form that saw them challenge for promotion last season and reach the EFL Cup semi-finals.

And things went from bad to worse for Millwall as O’Brien was stretchered off following a challenge by City centre-back Adam Webster in the 59th minute.

Millwall were penned back into own half as City went looking for the goal that would have probably killed off the contest with Josh Brownhill and Andrea Weimann looking particularly dangerous down the right.

All they needed was someone to supply the finishing touch but the prospects of that materialising were remote thanks to the solid defending of Cooper and Shaun Hutchinson, who particularly relished his physical duel with the Robins’ £6.8-million record signing Diedhiou.

Time and time again they snuffed out danger – blocking, intercepting and heading clear everything that was thrown at them, especially those difficult questions posed by the excellent Eliasson down the left.

After digging in so stoically, slowly but surely, Harris shifted the momentum of the game and Millwall started looking like a threat again.

While Cooper and Hutchinson repelled the home attackers, Shane Ferguson helped Ryan Tunnicliffe win control of central midfield, typified by a never-say-die run back to dispossess Weimann.

And then Cooper showed that attack really can be the best form of defence as he ventured towards enemy territory to set up the deserved equaliser in the 78thminute.

The former England U20 international strode up-field before picking out Steve Morison with a long, diagonal ball which the evergreen skipper nodded into the path of Shaun Williams, who volleyed in the equaliser from 12 yards out. The crisp left-footed strike was the midfielder’s sixth goal this season but he was unable to join Morison and celebrate with the travelling fans in the Atyeo Stand because he was lying in agony as a result of Webster’s attempt to clear the danger.

That was Williams’ last contribution as he was taken off and soon the injured Morison limped towards Harris in the dugout as their team-mates readied themselves for a final onslaught.

In the end there were 10 long, angst-ridden minutes of stoppage time to weather as the rain poured down on the banks of the Avon but City had just once chance to break Millwall hearts but full-back Eros Pisano was unable to keep his shot on target with Archer beaten following a set-piece.

So, Millwall may be still looking for their first win this season but this was a result and performance that showed Harris’ team are ready to scrap their way to safety – and have the character to climb the table.

Millwall (4-4-2): Archer 7, Romeo 5, Hutchinson 9, Cooper 8, Meredith 7, J Wallace 6, Tunnicliffe 6, Williams 8 (Karacan  81), Ferguson 7, Morison 8 (Webster, 90+1), O’Brien 6 (Skalak 59, 7). Not used: Amos, McLaughlin, M Wallace, White.


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