BY RICHARD CAWLEY
If Brentford were supposed to be an easy touch – with nothing resting on this match for them – then they had clearly not read the memo.
Millwall needed three points far more than the mid-tabling west Londoners. But even down to 10 men for more than an hour – by the time you added in 12 minutes of stoppage time in total – they refused to buckle.
It had all looked so promising for Millwall as Lee Gregory struck them ahead fairly early on and Brentford captain Henrik Dalsgaard was dismissed for a professional foul on 35 minutes.
But Brentford had already restored parity by that stage – a peach of a hit by Joshua Da Silva.
And as much as Millwall tried to knock on the door in the second half, they were unable to regain the lead.
The result kept the Lions 20th but that was before Wigan and Rotherham United kicked off at 3pm.
The Lions moved ahead on 15 minutes with Gregory netting his 12th of the season – and third in 2019.
The striker was on hand to turn and rifle home from 10 yards out after Shane Ferguson’s corner was prodded into his path.
But that lead did not last long as Da Silva produced a superb finish. The former Arsenal midfielder was given time and space to weigh up a shot – but you could only admire his powerful curling effort into the top left corner of the net.
Brentford went down to 10 men not long after. Jed Wallace’s ball over the top made it a chase for Ben Thompson and Dalsgaard but just as the Lions man got in front he was sent tumbling just outside the visitors’ penalty area.
Referee Jeremy Simpson was quickly on the scene of the crime and showed the centre-back a straight red card.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Thompson had to make way in the 40th minute due to injury – getting a standing ovation from the appreciative home support. Tom Elliott came on as the hosts switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
Wallace was unlucky with a fine reverse pass which just slipped past Gregory before Brentford went close to moving in front before the interval. Sergi Canos struck the bar with a strike which was largely a mirror of Da Silva’s hit – not carrying quite the same venom.
Millwall boss Neil Harris opted for another change at the start of the second half as he brought on Ben Marshall for James Meredith – a switch which saw Shane Ferguson drop to left-back.
And the Lions started positively. Mahlon Romeo struck across the ball after being teed up by Wallace, only managing to slice into the Cold Blow Lane end.
Brentford actually had the next two chances, despite being boxed in for the early exchanges. Neal Maupay drove wide of the left upright while David Martin had to push away Canos’ well-struck attempt from 20 yards.
Millwall were struggling to create or test Luke Daniels anywhere near enough. Da Silva flashed the ball across the face of the home goal with Alex Pearce taking evasive action on his sliding clearance to prevent turning into his own net.
Wallace set up a shooting chance for Ryan Tunnicliffe but the midfielder wanted an extra touch and the opportunity disappeared.
Wallace’s cross clipped the Brentford bar but it felt like the nerves had got to the hosts – because it was their opponents who continued to look more likely to find a winner.
Substitute Chiedozie Ogbene missed a huge chance on 86 minutes. Da Silva rolled Ferguson and put the chance on a plate for the youngster, whose horrible connection took it harmlessly wide. A major let-off.