BY ALEX GRACE
Millwall booked their place in the third round of the EFL Cup with a comfortable victory over Cheltenham Town.
Ryan Leonard got the hosts on their way before goals from Connor Mahoney and Matt Smith put the Lions 3-0 up and in firm control of the tie.
Cheltenham substitute Finn Azaz pulled one back for the League Two side but a comeback was never threatened by Michael Duff’s side.
The Lions looked the more threatening of the two sides, and gave the visitors an early warning sign.
Millwall should have gone in front in the 15th minute. Mahoney’s corner was headed back into the danger area by Murray Wallace to Shaun Hutchinson but his header drifted wide of the far post.
Mahoney was looking lively and forced Josh Griffiths into a smart stop from outside the box. Two minutes later Millwall’s pressure paid off. A long ball from Murray Wallace was headed down by Smith to Bradshaw, he set up Leonard who drilled the ball low into the bottom corner to break the deadlock.
Cheltenham almost drew level with their first real attempt of the match. Alfie May’s shot trickled just wide of the post as Millwall went in 1-0 ahead at the break.
The Lions doubled their lead three minutes into the second half.
Shane Ferguson’s cross was finished brilliantly into the top corner by Mahoney who caused all sorts of problems in the first half.
May came closest for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes and he saw a shot blocked by Hutchinson after 54 minutes as Cheltenham responded.
Mahlon Romeo was replaced by Jiri Skalak just before the hour mark as Rowett continues to ease in the right-back, who did not feature at all in pre-season following a groin injury at the end of last season.
Millwall secured victory and passage into the third round just after the hour mark. Smith headed in after Ferguson’s scuffed volley fell to him inside the area.
The visitors did get a goal back in the 69th minute as substitute Azaz’s deflected effort beat Bartosz Bialkowski. Azaz gave the visitors a new lease of life when he came on and troubled the Millwall defence again on 73 minutes, twisting and turning on the edge of the box before producing a curling effort that forced Bialkowski into a smart stop.
Bradshaw went close after receiving a knock down from another substitute in Mason Bennett but the Welshman’s flick went wide of the far post.
Victory means Millwall will host either Burnley or Sheffield United in the next round next week.
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD
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.