BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall made it just one defeat in their last 12 matches as they moved into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable victory over Newport County.
The Lions were quarter-finalists last season and will find out on Monday evening who they face next in the competition.
The South London outfit led before the break through a Matt Smith goal. Connor Mahoney converted from the penalty spot with Tom Bradshaw making it 3-0 in the closing stages.
Gary Rowett made six changes to his starting line-up and that included giving complete rests to Shaun Williams and Mahlon Romeo. Jed Wallace, so often a matchwinner for Millwall in recent months, was an unused substitute.
But the side he selected had too much quality for League Two opposition, who did have a strong spell at the start of the second period.
Smith had his seventh goal of the campaign with eight minutes on the clock. Mahoney’s corner to the near post was a poor one but the miscue by a County defender took it into the path of the big striker, who turned home from about 10 yards out.
Millwall dominated the possession and put together some decent passages of passing but lacked quality in the final third.
Another corner produced a chance on 32 minutes, Jiri Skalak fed in a low ball for an unmarked Mahoney – his shot was blocked by Padraig Amond as it ran out for a corner.
Former Lions keeper Tom King saved from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson but the strike lacked any real venom with Mahoney producing some nice build-up play before driving a shot into the stand in the final action of the first period.
The Welsh side came out with renewed vigour after the break and Bart Bialkowski had to be quick off his line to deny Jamille Matt with his legs, Amond followed up but drove into the side-netting. That was their chance to turn the contest around.
Millwall were sloppy defensively at the start of the second half and Newport’s fast start saw Rowett replace goalscorer Smith with Bradshaw.
The change shifted the Lions back on to the front foot.
Referee Tony Harrington ruled that Mark O’Brien had fouled Bodvarsson inside the penalty area and a confident Mahoney tucked away the spot-kick to get himself on the scoresheet for the second match in a row.
Bradshaw’s goal was undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. Jason McCarthy put in a low cross from the right and the striker produced the deftest of finishes to loop the ball over King in the 82nd minute.