Millwall were dealt a stoppage time blow for the second week in a row as Southampton struck late in the day to take all three points and consign Millwall to a fifth game without a Championship win.
The Lions gave it a good go, but the pressure from the Saints in the second half was too much, and the eventual goal arrived thanks to substitute Ryan Fraser.
Here are Alex Grace’s four takeaways from the contest.
ANOTHER INJURY TIME SUCKER PUNCH
It’s becoming a bit of a theme, isn’t it?
That’s twice in two weeks that Millwall have conceded in the late stages of a game. It has now cost them four points. There was more of an indication that this was coming, though. At Watford last week, Millwall could and should have been further ahead before the late show from the Hornets denied them all three points and Adam Barrett a win during his caretaker stint.
For large parts of the contest, Millwall held their own. Barrett has given the team a bit more license to get forward and play after switching to a back four. However, there is getting forward but getting forward and causing a threat, that is something Millwall did not do to Southampton. The Lions had seven shots in the game but just one on target.
Of course it was never going to be a game where the home side were going to see lots of the ball. Russell Martin’s philosophy as a manager is very possession-based. He likes his team to keep the ball, pass it and play out from the back. That was evident with them having 73 per cent possession across the 90 minutes.
While it was a hard one to take for the home fans and for the team, it would have been unfair if the Saints had not come away with all three points – they were the better team and there won’t be many in the ground who would say they didn’t see the goal coming.
Barrett spoke of Millwall needing to be more ruthless in both boxes. I will agree with that. 1 shot on target is not good enough, when you play these teams at the top of the table, you don’t get too many chances, you have to take them or you get punished as Millwall found out in a painful way.
BIALKOWSKI HITS BACK AT CRITICS
Now I have to admit that I need to eat some humble pie.
I have been critical of the back-to-back Millwall Player of the Season in recent weeks, some of his performances have been a bit questionable with a few of the goals that have found their way past him. However, he was Millwall’s best player on Saturday afternoon. We saw the old Bialkowski – the one that earned the reputation of one of the best shot stoppers in the Championship. It would have done his confidence the world of good.
One sensational stop, in particular, was the one to deny Kamaldeen Sulemana in the second half, for all the world it looked like his shot was curling into the far corner but the keeper made an excellent stop to deny him.
He also made a string of saves before that to keep the Lions in the contest.
WHERE IS THE SEASON GOING?
Millwall’s season is in real danger of drifting away into a season of mid-table obscurity. At the time of writing they are 18th in the table, seven points clear of the relegation zone but eight points off of the play-offs.
This period since Gary Rowett left the club has not gone as planned. Just two points taken from a possible 12 has seen Millwall fall from just outside the top six, to being 18th and seven points off it. Adam Barrett’s stint in charge has not brought the desired amount of points. Despite, at times the side playing with more freedom they have not been able to secure the results.
Joe Edwards looks set to be confirmed as the club’s new head coach in the next 48 hours – he will need to hit the ground running quickly if Millwall are to be in the mix for the top six again this season, which right now looks quite unlikely.
IMPORTANT DUO BACK ON THE BENCH
Millwall have been plagued by injuries so far this season, and that has also been one of the reasons for their slide down the table. Barrett has alluded to it throughout his caretaker stint just how tough it has been with a lack of players to choose from.
I’m sure he and all Millwall fans were delighted to see both Shaun Hutchinson and Ryan Leonard back on the bench. Both players are so important to Millwall and have been in recent years. Leonard for his versatility and ability to get stuck in and make the team more competitive.
Hutchinson is the leader – the Lions have missed their captain. He makes the team better, he is the leader of the defence and that has struggled in his absence.
The former Motherwell player also has a calm nature about him that calms the rest of the players around him. Jake Cooper is one who benefits from having the club captain alongside him. His return will allow the vice-captain to focus on himself again rather than leading the team which at times looks like it takes its toll on him.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:
“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ