BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Aiden O’Brien’s goal ensured that Millwall end 2019 only two points behind the play-off positions.
The Lions have won six and drawn four of Gary Rowett’s 12 matches in charge since he succeeded Neil Harris in the Den hotseat.
And while the South London club slipped to a shock defeat to Barnsley in SE16 in that run of matches, they showed once again today why they are a handful for any of the promotion-chasing sides.
The Bees arrived in South London in third place in the Championship but finished the afternoon a spot lower as Millwall ensured they bounced back from that disappointment against the Tykes last time they were on home turf.
Millwall’s opener was down to the persistence of Jayson Molumby and the composure of O’Brien.
Brentford keeper David Raya dallied on the ball for too long and Molumby’s slide tackle saw the ball break to the Lions’ number 22, who slotted home in the ninth minute.
Millwall’s 5-2-3 formation worked a treat in the opening 45 minutes as they maintained a good shape out of possession, pressed intelligently and also stretched the Bees backline.
The hosts celebrated in the fourth minute when Murray Wallace headed in namesake Jed’s free-kick but the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside.
Shaun Williams disguised his intentions from a 27th minute corner – finding an unmarked Jed Wallace about 12 yards out but the attacker, who has been in such fine form for the South Londoners, produced a scuffed effort which failed to even test Raya.
Brentford’s first effort on target came in the 32nd minute. Bartosz Bialkowski seemed to be moving the wrong way and could only parry Bryan Mbeumo’s shot back out in front of him – luckily Shaun Hutchinson was there to clear the danger.
Millwall’s pressing almost paid dividends as they won possession midway in the Brentford half but Ethan Pinnock just managed to make a block on Jed Wallace’s shot – the attacker rolled in on the right of the box by Tom Bradshaw.
Both sides had attacking intent in the second half but that didn’t produce chances – much to the satisfaction of the resilient Lions.
Brentford’s big chance to level came with three minutes of normal time to play as Ollie Watkins nodded down for Jan Zamburek but the substitute – with time on his side to pick his spot – sent his left-footed effort wide of the post.
It proved to be costly as Millwall’s rearguard – led by the excellent Shaun Hutchinson – recorded a clean sheet.
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.