Luton Town 1 Millwall 1 – Lions denied first Championship away victory by late Callum McManaman goal

By Jake Sanders

Substitute Callum McManaman scored a late equaliser to cancel out Tom Bradshaw’s goal that put Millwall on course for their first Championship away victory of the season.

The Lions were on the back foot for the majority of the game, but Bradshaw pounced on the hour-mark to net his first goal since August. Matt Smith then squandered a glorious chance to make it 2-0 moments later and it proved costly as McManaman steered home from close-range in the 86th minute to earn Luton Town a point.

The result sees Millwall climb up to 18th in the Championship standings, but extends their winless run to eight matches in all competitions ahead of the visit of Leeds on Saturday.

Millwall didn’t start like a team that hadn’t won since mid-August and had Jake Cooper’s first minute header from a Ryan Leonard corner landed the right side of the post the Lions would have been given the dream start and taken the lead in an away game for the first time this season.

Up the other end, Smith needed to make a goal-saving block to stop Dan Potts’ rasping effort from going in after a clever free-kick routine from the hosts.

Potts was then played down the left and delivered for Harry Cornick, but the midfielder somehow fluffed his lines from close-range, heading the ball backwards from almost under the crossbar.

The Hatters continued to pile on the pressure and came closer on 22 minutes with what was the only shot on target from either side in the opening period. On-loan Chelsea man Izzy Brown picked out James Collins at the near-post, but his powerful effort was wonderfully kept out by Bartosz Bialkowski from point-blank range.

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu found space just before the break, but fired straight into the travelling Millwall fans which summed up a dreadful first-half of football.

Collins met another Brown corner right at the beginning of the second-half, but was once more thwarted by some excellent Bialkowski reactions – the Pole acrobatically pushing his volley onto the crossbar before the Lions cleared the danger.

Against the run of play and despite being totally on the back foot, Millwall broke forward and stunned Kenilworth Road by taking a 60th minute lead. Ben Thompson, who replaced Connor Mahoney at the break, kept the ball alive and slipped in Jed Wallace on the inside left of the penalty area. He then drilled across goal and saw his strike saved by Simon Sluga, but Tom Bradshaw was on hand to bundle home his third goal of the season – all of which have come on the road.

Less than three minutes later the Lions should have doubled their lead, but Smith missed a golden chance from close-range as he headed Mahlon Romeo’s pint-point delivery just wide.

Luton’s reaction was to make a double change, introducing both McManaman and Kazenga LuaLua, and the latter almost made an immediate impact, but his cross-come-shot was turned away from danger by the impressive Bialkowski, who was in fine form.

Millwall, who hadn’t scored two goals in any league game this season, continued to go in search of that much-needed second and 15 minutes from time it almost came, but Thompson’s arrowed effort from distance was turned behind for a corner by Sluga, with Cooper heading wide the resulting set-piece wide.

And the Lions were made to pay for their missed chances four minutes from time as McManaman converted Luke Bolton’s cross from eight-yards to ensure a share of the spoils.

Jayson Molumby’s spectacular volley nearly won it for Millwall in stoppage-time, but it sailed narrowly over before Bradshaw had an even better chance with the final kick of the game, but his weak effort was straight at Sluga from Aiden O’Brien’s pull-back and the Lions had to settle for a second 1-1 draw in the space of five days away from home.

IMAGES BY BRIAN TONKS

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