BY ALEX GRACE
Millwall were beaten on their return to Championship action for the first time since March by a Louie Sibley-inspired Derby County.
Football returned to The Den behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. ‘No-one likes us’ was played through the speakers, but it didn’t help as Derby ran out winners.
Sibley bagged a hat-trick at The Den after Matt Smith had given the Lions the lead. Jon Dadi-Bodvarsson pulled one back in stoppage time but Derby held on for all three points to secure their first win at The Den since 2013.
Derby dominated possession in the early stages but failed to create anything of substance to worry the Millwall defence. For all of the visitors’ possession in the opening 15 minutes it would be Millwall who struck first. The move started in the Lions’ own half. Shane Ferguson provided the cross for Smith to head home his fourth goal in just two matches.
Their lead didn’t last long however, Derby begun to turn their possession into chances. Sibley worked his way through and forced Bartosz Bialkowski into a smart stop. Sibley got the equaliser as he forced his way through the Lions defence and finished smartly into the top corner after 36 minutes.
Millwall were finding it difficult to contain the energetic Sibley, who again caused the home defence problems and forced another smart stop from Bialkowski. Millwall midfielder Ryan Leonard forced Ben Hamer into a superb stop just before the break.
The Lions started the second half with a lot more intensity, a quick throw gave Matt Smith a wonderful chance to restore the lead, but he attempted to lob Ben Hamer and got too much on it to send it over the bar.
Derby responded again through Sibley, who got the better of Shaun Hutchinson but put his shot over the bar.
It would be the 18-year-old who again put Derby in front. A good combination with former Lion Martyn Waghorn ended with the youngster sliding in his second of the game to make it 2-1 to the Rams.
Gary Rowett responded by throwing strikers Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Tom Bradshaw but the South Londoners were hit on the break as Sibley completed his hat-trick in the dying moments, sliding the ball past Bialkowski.
Jon Dadi-Bodvarsson did pull one back for Millwall in stoppage time, but the visitors held on to deal Millwall’s top-six hopes a big blow.
PHOTOS BY KEITH GILLARD
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