BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall suffered a first league defeat at The Den since September 29 as their four-match unbeaten run in SE16 came to an end at the hands of Birmingham City.
It is the first time that the Lions have failed to score in the Championship at The Den this season.
Ryan Leonard was sent off for two bookable offences on the half-hour mark – at which point the hosts already trailed.
They produced a spirited first 25 minutes in the second half but former Charlton centre-back Michael Morrison, who skippers the Blues, extended their advantage shortly after that.
And there was also the worrying sign of Lee Gregory going off in the 79th minute. Already missing Tom Elliott and Tom Bradshaw, the striker options are depleted – even if club captain Steve Morison was fit enough to start.
Shaun Hutchinson also went off with a nasty gash above his right eye but that is unlikely to keep him out of contention for Sunday’s trip to Bristol City.
Millwall’s prospects of gaining a positive result diminished when Leonard was dismissed. He had already been booked for bringing down Che Adams as he launched a counter down the left flank.
And another foul – this time on Maikel Kieftenbeld – saw his night’s work ended prematurely after 30 minutes.
Birmingham were already in front by that stage but the goal had more than one element of fortune. Shaun Hutchinson’s slip have Adams a chance to break into the box and his low curled shot came back off the right upright – either going in off Lukas Jutkiewicz or James Meredith.
Jutkiewicz should have done better with a chance on 26 minutes. Teed up on the left of the box by Jacques Maghoma, his shot sailed into the Cold Blow Lane stand when it should have at least been on target.
Archer was needed to make a block on Maghoma 11 minutes later as the winger charged into the box as the Lions failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Jake Cooper also made a block on an Adams shot, the Blues number nine allowed to advance on goal as Millwall’s two centre-backs initially went into reverse gear.
Millwall could point to little in the final third that was notable. Steve Morison did well to win a free-kick as he bounced off Harlee Dean but Shane Ferguson curled over the bar without it raising Lee Camp’s blood pressure.
Archer pushed away an early Jutkiewicz chance once play resumed before the Lions had their only shot on target in the 49th minute.
Gregory was brought down on the edge of the box, Camp parried Jed Wallace’s free-kick and then held the resulting follow up attempt by Cooper.
Millwall did not play like they were at a numerical disadvantage for a decent chunk of the second half but their prospects of salvaging something were pretty much ended by Morrison’s goal, which came off Cooper on its way into the net.