BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall’s EFL Cup progress was halted in the third round as Fulham ran out commanding winners at The Den.
It was Slavisa Jokanovic’s side which ended the Lions’ 17-match unbeaten Championship run at the end of last season – majorly hitting their hopes of a late surge into the play-offs.
The reverse tonight pales into insignificance compared to that reverse. The league remains the priority again for Millwall this season and manager Neil Harris made eight changes to the side which started at West Brom on Saturday.
Fulham had Aleksandar Mitrovic on the bench but the free-scoring Serb was not needed on a night when the away side controlled proceedings – instead there were debuts for two of their most promising talents in the closing exchanges.
Tom Elliott did head home to make it 2-1 with plenty of time left in the tie in the second half. But Cyrus Christie’s stonking long-distance goal quickly killed off hopes of a comeback.
Fulham dominated the first half but only had Bryan’s goal to show for almost total supremacy in terms of possession and notable chances.
Millwall were strangely subdued and there were numerous occasions where it was the visitors who successfully pressed to win possession. And so many of the second balls – another strength of the Lions under Harris – were also won by the west Londoners.
It could have been a lot worse than just 1-0 at half-time with Ben Amos twice denied Luca De La Torre.
If there was a criticism of Fulham, it was that they did not turn their dominance into even more tangible scoring opportunities.
But Bryan’s goal was an example of incisive attacking play. Andre-Frank Anguissa played the ball up to De La Torre on the edge of the Millwall box and the youngster slipped it through for Bryan to explode a low drive beyond Amos. The former Bristol City full-back was to slam over from a similar position later in the first period.
Kevin McDonald, who scored in Fulham’s 3-0 win at The Den at the end of last season, did not look far away with another long-range hit.
Millwall’s best chance of that opening period came in the 17th minute. Lee Gregory got ahead of Steven Sessegnon as he chased a ball over the top but his shot lacked any venom. Anguissa got his head to a hooked effort by Ryan Tunnicliffe, playing against his old employers.
Harris’ move at half-time was to bring on Mahlon Romeo for Jiri Skalak as the hosts switched to 3-5-2.
Fulham went 2-0 ahead on 52 minutes. Anguissa won back possession and it ended with Floyd Ayite’s pull-back being drilled in by De La Torre.
But Elliott reduced the deficit just past the hour mark. Ferguson’s corner was headed goalwards by the big striker and a desperate Fulham touch on the goal-line only hooked it into the net.
Suddenly the volume in The Den was raised by the home sections but Christie punctured any optimism with a fabulous strike on 68 minutes. The left wing-back cut in from the right and curled a wicked left-footer beyond the helpless Amos.
Fulham created their own slice of history when they brought on Harvey Elliott, the winger becoming the club’s youngest player – at just 15. Matt O’Reilly, 17, also made his debut.
Millwall’s Elliott headed another chance over with Aiden O’Brien unable to get a touch from close-range as the South Londoners could not turn it into a grandstand finish.
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