Wallace 2, 31 O’Brien 34 Romeo 35 Morison 44
By Richard Cawley at Princes Park
Pre-season is never really a big indicator of how a side will fare when we get into the results business – Millwall proved exactly that 12 months ago.
Rewind a year and the Lions drew 1-1 at Dartford, lost 1-0 to Barnet at The Hive and looked sluggish in a 0-0 draw at Stevenage.
But when results mattered? They finished eighth in the Championship, only slipping out of play-off contention after the penultimate round of fixtures.
That’s why nobody, least of all manager Neil Harris, is going to be getting carried away by putting National South opposition away inside the opening 45 minutes.
Just 90 seconds were needed for the Lions to open the scoring in the kind of heat they will also endure on their Portugal training camp, Jed Wallace producing a textbook free-kick over the Darts defensive wall and beyond Deren Ibrahim.
The contest, if an opening friendly can ever truly be described as that, was over after a four-goal blitz in the space of 13 minutes.
Ibrahim made a stop initially from Wallace’s shot but the winger, whose pace and running power were impossible for the non-league outfit to contain, put away the rebound.
And then there was a collector’s item – an Aiden O’Brien headed goal. Shaun Williams won a foul and then picked out the Lions man to glance his effort home.
Mahlon Romeo’s strike was up there with Wallace’s first for the best finish of the match. He cut in from the right and fired across Ibrahim and into the corner of the net.
Wallace had the chance of a hat-trick when Fred Onyedinma was brought down inside the penalty area. The winger had tried to take over spot-kick duties on the final day of the last campaign, only to get short shrift from Williams. But this time he was allowed to pick up the ball without any fuss.
Ibrahim made an excellent double save from Wallace before Steve Morison ended the winger-goalkeeper battle by finally converting.
The scoreline was not a totally fair reflection of the match. Dartford produced some testing corners in the first period and Morison needed to clear Ronnie Vint’s header off his own line.
Trialist centre-back Lazar Stojsavljevic’s attempt at a clearing header inadvertently skimmed the ball into the path of Andy Pugh, but the Dartford striker rolled his low shot wide with Jordan Archer quickly off his line to narrow the angle.
You can’t really judge a player on 45 minutes – especially when Stojsavljevic, 20, is viewed as a potential addition to Millwall’s under-23 side and not their first team. It wasn’t the kind of match that gave defenders a major test.
The second half was most notable for the playing return of Byron Webster, Harris opting to change all 11 players at the break.
Webster took on the captaincy in his first action since September 30 when he damaged cruciate knee ligaments against Barnsley.
Tom Elliott had the ball in the net once – ruled out for either handball or offside – and twice failed to get other opportunities on target. New boy Murray Wallace headed a Shane Ferguson corner wide.
The final chance for the Lions came on 81 minutes and was created by youngster Mason Saunders-Henry. His run had a productive ending, not always the case when it comes to 18-year-olds – but Lee Gregory’s first-time effort was blocked by former Crystal Palace goalkeeper Matt Funnell.
Job done, in more ways than one. The Lions did not appear to pick up any knocks but were without George Saville, Shaun Hutchinson and Sid Nelson – the former had a back niggle which did not stop him being a spectator.
Millwall (first half): Archer, Romeo, Stojsavljevic, Cooper, McLaughlin, Wallace, Donovan, Williams, O’Brien, Onyedinma, Morison.
Millwall (second half): Martin, Brown, Webster, Wallace, McNamara, Ferguson, Thompson, Tunnicliffe, Saunders-Henry (Olaofe 82), Gregory, Elliott.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
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
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 recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.