BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Bart Bialkowski has finally had that winning feeling in a derby – but the Millwall keeper admits he had a touch of fortune on Saturday.
The Lions shotstopper parried Josh Cullen’s first-half strike on to his crossbar and goal-line technology showed that only a small fraction of the ball was not over the line when he managed to beat it away.
An injury-time goal by Matt Smith secured maximum points for Millwall as they extended their unbeaten run over Charlton to 11 matches – six of those victories.
“I didn’t see him [Cullen] taking the shot, so I’ve seen the ball late,” said Bialkowski.
“And it swerved a little bit. I’ve gone down to my right side and the ball has hit me there [points to his left wrist]. I parried it away. It was lucky, but sometimes you need to take that.
“I should’ve done better but a save is a save – I’ll take it.
“I was confident it was not over the line. I just saw the picture, it was very close.
“It’s a good job we have got goal-line technology, otherwise the ref might have given the goal for them.”
Shaun Hutchinson had headed Millwall ahead early on before Jonathan Leko’s shot deflected off Mahlon Romeo to draw the Addicks level soon after the restart.
Substitute Smith overpowered Naby Sarr at the back post to head in Jed Wallace’s corner in the first minute of stoppage time.
Bialkowski is on a season-long loan from Ipswich Town. And he has never won in the eight derbies he has played against Norwich City.
“The atmosphere was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. But Ipswich-Norwich is also unbelievable. It’s hard to really compare it. But we won the game, so the atmosphere was better.
“In my five years at Ipswich I haven’t beaten Norwich – it was painful.”
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer was left scratching his head how they did not at least come away with a point.
Bialkowski said: “When you look at the chances then you’d say maybe the draw was the fair result. But that’s football, there is nothing you can do about it.
“Recently we conceded two goals against Brentford in the last moments of the game, so we know how their players are feeling.
“What a way to win the game.
“We played well in the first half. They had a spell, they are a good team and tried to pass the ball. We knew about their strengths.”
Bialkowski pushed over a blistering volley by Macauley Bonne just before half-time.
And he also turned a Darren Pratley effort over his bar – although Leko scored from the corner.
“It is just reaction stuff,” said Bialkowski. “When you’re training well and doing everything right for the whole week before the game then you’re quite confident you’re going to make those saves on the matchday as well.
“The credit must go to LT [Lee Turner], the goalie coach. He has been absolutely brilliant with me and the other goalies. It’s paying off.
“We need to keep doing that.
“He [Pratley] hit it first time and I reacted to put it out for a corner. But from that corner they scored – maybe I should catch it!
“I was more disappointed because I don’t think the initial shot they had was going in. It took a deflection on the way and obviously went in.”
Asked if Bialkowski and the Lions squad were more pumped for the South London derby, he replied: “I can only speak for myself, I try to treat every game the same.
“Every game is as important as this one, or any derby. It’s a big one for the fans – but at the end of the day we’re playing for three points.”
MAIN PICTURE: KYLE ANDREWS
INSET PICTURE: BRIAN TONKS
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