BY JAKE SANDERS
Millwall fell to their fifth defeat in six Championship games as second-half goals from Dwight Gayle and Kieran Gibbs gave West Brom a 2-0 victory at The Hawthorns.
Gayle tapped home on 68 minutes before the left-back coolly fired home just eight minutes later to seal the points for the Baggies. The defeat means the Lions have dropped into the relegation zone for the first time in 2018.
Neil Harris made four changes to his side that lost at Queens Park Rangers in midweek as Byron Webster, Mahlon Romeo, Jiri Skalak – making his first league start – and Steve Morison all came into the starting 11. Conor McLaughlin, Murray Wallace, Aiden O’Brien and Lee Gregory made way.
Millwall started the brighter and enjoyed large spells of possession in the early stages without creating threatening the Albion goal.
Their good start should have been rewarded with the opening goal on 20 minutes, but Jed Wallace could only blaze over after a fine run and then some good fortune after the ball deflected into his path.
At the other end, West Brom almost took the lead as Jay Rodriguez and Harvey Barnes combined, but the latter couldn’t get hold of his shot properly and scuffed wide.
Millwall were growing into the game and nearly broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion just past the half-hour mark. Tom Bradshaw forced Sam Johnstone to scuff his kick to Jed Wallace around 35 yards out, but the winger’s long-range effort was headed away from danger by Craig Dawson from virtually under his own goal line.
Skalak – who struggled in the early exchanges – moved to the right midway through the first-half and it almost worked a treat as he produced a wonderful cross, but Steve Morison couldn’t convert at the near post and Johnstone comfortably gathered.
West Brom began the second period on the front foot and it looked like they’d taken the lead, but Phillips’ deflected effort somehow span away from go and Millwall survived.
The chance seemed to give the hosts the upper hand and they took the lead after a long spell of pressure. Ahmed Hegazi climbed highest from a corner and Gayle was on hand to tap home the rebound after Ben Amos had made a wonderful stop to initially deny the Egyptian centre-back.
Just eight minutes later the Baggies went even further ahead. A cross from the right found Gibbs all alone at the far post and the former Arsenal man thumped home into the far corner.
Substitute Aiden O’Brien had a chance – the Lions’ only one in the second-half – to reduce the deficit with 10 minutes left, but his curling effort didn’t trouble Johnstone in the West Brom net.
The visitors finished the game with Tom Elliott, Lee Gregory and Morison all on the pitch, but none of the three could break down a stubborn Baggies defence and left pointless.