BY ALEX GRACE
“Cop-out” is how Gary Rowett described referee Steve Martin’s decision not to award Millwall a stoppage-time penalty against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions manager may have been frustrated at that but he would have been more frustrated with how his side defended for Swansea’s two goals.
Millwall have built up a strong defensive reputation under Rowett but some of that disappeared on Saturday afternoon, conceding two goals that were very easily avoidable.
The game was fairly uneventful in the first half, an early Jed Wallace effort deflected for a corner before Jake Cooper made a superb block to deny Jamal Lowe just before the half-time interval.
The game came to life in the second half.
Millwall failed to deal with a throw in the early moments of the second half, allowing Morgan Gibbs-White too much time and space to deliver a cross to the back post where Jake Bidwell managed to beat Mahlon Romeo at the far post – he stuck out his boot and managed to divert the cross into the bottom corner of the net.
The response from Rowett’s side was strong, Wallace going close to an immediate leveller, just dragging a shot past the far post. A warning sign for the hosts.
On 51 minutes, the visitors levelled, and this could be a pivotal moment in Tom Bradshaw’s Lions career. The forward scored his first Millwall goal since January’s win over Newport in the FA Cup, a wait of 273 days. Could that turn his fortunes around? It’s been a tough period for the former Barnsley striker, whose work-rate can’t be faulted. The chance that fell his way against Brentford was one that many felt he should have done better with, but he put those demons behind him to smartly finish Shaun Hutchinson’s through ball.
The harshest of critics will say that he had a massive helping hand from the goalkeeper Steven Benda, who should perhaps have done better. But in my opinion that is just reward for all the effort he has put in over what has been a very tough barren spell for the striker. You need a little bit of luck in football, and he got it there.
With Troy Parrott possibly out until November, it’s a great chance for Bradshaw to really kick on and prove to Gary Rowett that he has enough goals in him to help propel Millwall into the top-six reckoning again this season.
Andre Ayew did his best to try and get Millwall reduced to 10 men after an off-the-ball incident that saw Ayew run into Cooper’s arm. The Millwall players were furious with his reaction as he proceeded to roll and roll around the pitch for what seemed an eternity.
Swansea scored the winner in the 68th minute. Again, a goal we are not used to seeing Millwall concede under Rowett. A free-kick was delivered into the box and the Lions failed to win the second or even third ball. Ben Cabango managed to finally put the ball in the net after both Bidwell and Jamal Lowe had seen efforts kept out by Bart Bialkowski.
The Lions created openings after that and Benda did brilliantly to deny Cooper his first of the season.
In stoppage time Millwall were denied what looked a certain penalty. Marc Guehi dragged down Hutchinson in the box but instead of awarding a penalty the referee ordered for the corner to be retaken.
The defeat ends Millwall’s unbeaten start to the campaign but Rowett can be relatively happy with how his side have started the season.
PICTURES: BRIAN TONKS
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