Your Millwall v Brentford match report powered by Utilita
A goal 51 seconds in settled an entertaining London derby in favour of Millwall in South London. Brentford fell behind and lost central defender Andreas Bjelland to injury in a terrible opening and could not find a way through to earn the share of the spoils, which would have been the least they deserved. The Bees had a goal ruled out, hit the post and the crossbar and saw a series of other chances come and go as they slipped to defeat at The Den.
How the game only produced one goal will remain a mystery to all watching. Millwall also had other chances that could have produced goals, with George Saville – who got the winner – also hitting the woodwork but it was Brentford that dominated. They laid siege at times, particularly in the second half, but were unable to get the goal they needed and return to West London with nothing.
Brentford could not have had a worst start to the contest. After picking the ball up from a goal kick, Bjelland’s body crumpled underneath him and he was robbed by Jed Wallace, the ball bounced up and was nodded through for Saville to slot underneath Daniel Bentley and put Millwall ahead. That proved to be Bjelland’s only touch of the afternoon and he had to be withdrawn and replaced by Chris Mepham.
It was never likely to be a match that needed a goal to liven it up but that early strike ramped up the atmosphere inside The Den. The home side were keen to push forward and almost worked a second goal when James Meredith somehow got to the by-line and cut the ball back but John Egan was in the right place to clear. Brentford for their part tried to regroup after the early goal and change. Nico Yennaris called his side in to a huddle while Bjelland was limping off and The Bees looked to stick to their game plan.
They looked as if they had levelled within ten minutes when an Ollie Watkins corner was nodded on by Egan and Yoann Barbet volleyed in at the far post. After a more than momentary hesitation, the flag of an assistant referee was raised and, following discussions, referee Stuart Atwell ruled the goal out. Barbet was very close in when he put the ball home and Millwall would have had legitimate complaints that the corner which led to the corner that led to the goal should not have been given anyway.
The game soon settled in to a pattern. Both teams were keen to attack, albeit in very different ways. Millwall were happy to play long for Lee Gregory and Steve Morison to challenge the Brentford defenders and then try to play in the final third while The Bees were more measured. Ryan Woods and Romaine Sawyers started to see a lot of the ball and looked to use wide players Watkins and Sergi Canós. Watkins had a header from a Henrik Dalsgaard cross that he couldn’t direct but that was a rare Brentford attempt on goal.
The Bees were dominating possession and playing largely on the front foot and in Millwall territory but the visitors had their back line well-drilled. Any crosses that came in were dealt with and The Bees largely played in front of their hosts. At the other end Bentley had to be well-positioned to save a long-range effort from Wallace and Saville saw a shot hit the outside of a post after he picked up a Gregory lay-off.
Gregory also saw a shot blocked and Morison sliced a volley well wide as time ticked on and the game continued in the same pattern until the break with both teams looking to attack. Brentford started to create more with their possession. A Dalsgaard cross just eluded Emiliano Marcondes Camargo Hansen before Woods and Sawyers combined to create a shooting chance for Barbet but the low effort flew narrowly wide from 25 yards.
At the other end Gregory was just unable to reach a Mahlon Romeo cross to nod it in and a Jake Cooper header was saved. Canós forced Jordan Archer in to a low save seconds before the interval but The Bees went in to break behind and knowing they would need to find a way to create more with their possession after the interval. And they had plenty of possession to try and create with. After an early Cooper header off target, the game was almost exclusively played in Millwall territory in the early stages of the second half.
The Bees were slicker after the break. Millwall were obviously tiring and Brentford were able to pick their passes. The hosts kept giving the ball away and Brentford built wave after wave of attack, creating some decent chances. Dalsgaard wasted a good opening when he waited too long to find Canós and when the Danish international then got the ball back from Woods, his low shot was saved. The Bees then came within a whisker of an equaliser when Canós picked up a cross from the determined Sawyers, turned and shot, the ball beat Archer but hit the far post and a follow-up from Watkins was blocked.
There was an even better chance for Canós soon after when Watkins worked his way across the box and fed the Spanish attacker but he blasted over from 12 yards on the angle. Watkins wasted a superbly worked break with a weak shot from 25 yards with options in front of him and Emiliano was just unable to turn in a cross soon after. Canós also had a shot blocked as Brentford turned the screw without being able to find a way through.
Millwall had been forced back by Brentford’s attacking intent and sharp passing but they had three chances in a minute to give themselves breathing space. First Gregory fired over after getting on to a Morison flick. Then it took a fine block from Egan to deny Morison after Wallace had robbed Woods. Bentley was then forced to tip a Morison header over the bar but Brentford were soon back on the attack and introduced Neal Maupay and Alan Judge as they looked for a leveller.
Egan thought he had equalised when he met a Watkins corner with a powerful header but it cannoned off the crossbar, down and away without crossing the line. A Dalsgaard cross just eluded the onrushing Maupay and the Dane went close himself seconds later. A superb Judge corner beat everyone in the middle and was met by Dalsgaard arriving at the far post, he didn’t make much of a connection but with Archer committed the ball was rolling in before Meredith appeared to clear inches from the line, somehow getting the ball over his own crossbar.
Wallace was unable to reach a Tom Elliott flick to convert and Fred Onyedinma nodded wide but as the game entered the final stages, it was all Brentford. Watkins blasted over from distance before Maupay got on to a Barbet cross and drilled it back in only for Shaun Hutchinson to clear deep inside his six-yard box. Barbet also fired narrowly wide as the seconds ticked away.
With time running out, Brentford continued to press. Maupay forced Archer in to a vital save with a low cross-cum-shot that could have led to a tap in for Watkins and the Millwall goalkeeper then gathered a looping effort from Dalsgaard in the dying seconds. And that was enough to give the hosts the win.
Millwall: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Williams, Saville, Marshall (sub Cahill 87 mins); Gregory (sub Onyedinma 75 mins), Morison (sub Elliott 75 mins)
Subs (not used): Martin, McLaughlin, Tunnicliffe, Shackell
Bookings: Elliott (76 mins), Cahill (88 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan, Bjelland (sub Mepham 4 mins), Barbet; Woods; Canós (sub Judge 74 mins), Yennaris, Sawyers, Watkins; Emiliano (sub Maupay 61 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Mokotjo, McEachran, Macleod
Attendance: 13,251 (1,705 Bees fans)