BY JAKE SANDERS
Jed Wallace’s second-half goal was enough to give Millwall their first Championship victory since New Year’s Day and move them five points clear of the relegation zone.
The Lions had gone more than six hours without finding the net in the league, but Wallace broke away and coolly finished a slick counter-attacking move involving Lee Gregory and Shane Ferguson to earn the visitors a league double over the Rams after their 2-1 win at The Den in August.
Despite Frank Lampard’s men controlling the game for large spells, Millwall were good value for their win and recorded their first clean sheet on the road since August and their third in a row in all competitions.
In terms of the action, the first half was a non-event. Derby dominated the ball in the early stages but found life tough against an extremely disciplined and well-drilled Millwall back-line.
And it took the Rams until the 41st minute before registering their first meaningful attempt on target, and even then, former Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone could only fire handsomely over from distance after creating space for himself.
Jack Marriot wanted a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but referee James Linington waved away his optimistic appeal and the sides went into the break goalless.
Derby then had a wonderful chance to open the scoring just four minutes into the second period, but after receiving the ball from Fikayo Tomori, Marriot scuffed his shot, allowing Jake Cooper to recover and clean up the danger.
Up the other end, the Lions came close to taking the lead themselves. Jed Wallace got down the left and his cross-come-shot skimmed the crossbar, with Kelle Roos scrambling in the Rams goal.
And despite mountains of possession from the hosts, it was Millwall that went in front with just 18 minutes left on the clock. Gregory pounced on an Ashley Cole mistake before skipping past two challenges and found Ferguson, who swept into the path of Wallace first-time. The Lions winger then found himself one-on-one with the former Chelsea defender and advanced into the box before sending a low strike into the bottom right-hand corner past Roos to send the small pocket of travelling fans into raptures. It was the Lions’ first shot on target of the evening, but reward for an organised display at the other end.
Moments after the goal, Tom Elliott replaced Gregory, while the Rams threw on Andy King, Florian Jozefzoon and David Nugent in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game.
But none of the three could have a say and despite a sharp Jordan Archer save from an injury-time Tomori header, Millwall deservedly travelled back to London with all three points and become just the second visiting side to leave Pride Park with a victory since Leeds United in August.
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.