Alex Grace’s Millwall takeaways from Boro loss – transfer link to Leeds defender makes sense as injuries take toll on Lions

Millwall suffered their first defeat in five Championship matches as Middlesbrough came from behind to take all three points on a bitterly cold afternoon in South London.
Joe Bryan gave the Lions the lead in the 10th minute but Lukas Engel equalised before half time. Isaiah Jones was the beneficiary of a Bryan error to make it 2-1 after the break before Marcus Forss sealed all three points.
Here are Alex Grace’s four takeaways from a topsy-turvy contest.
I feel like I’ve said this a lot over the last few weeks but the same thing happened again on Saturday. A 3-1 scoreline was not reflective of how the game went against opponents full of quality.
Joe Edwards would have been delighted with the first 30 minutes as he was against Leicester. Millwall’s creative play was outstanding. Duncan Watmore came close on a number of occasions but once again that killer instinct was not there.
Taking your chances at any level – but particularly at Championship level – against a side that made the play-offs last season is so important. Jake Cooper’s effort that came back off the crossbar seemed like a key moment. Had that gone in we would have been looking at a very different game as Millwall well and truly had their tails up. That goal would have had them in a very commanding position against a side that had failed to settle and were looking nervous.
Once they got in front, they managed the game very well. Game management is something the Lions have struggled with throughout the season. It’s now 19 points lost from winning positions this season. Holding on to just half of those points would see the Lions in the top six.
Speaking after the game in his post-match press conference, Michael Carrick said it was his bench that made the difference in determining the outcome of the game. That much was correct. The talent that the former Manchester United man was able to bring off the bench was far superior than what the Lions were able to bring off theirs.
It is safe to say right now that Edwards’ options are stretched massively. He only made three out of a possible five substitutions on Saturday. Three of the players on the bench were youngsters, that shows issues that the Lions are having at present.
Boro’s substitutes were effective, Matt Crooks, in particular,brought a calmness and control to the contest which really prevented Millwall from being able to create and build any attacks after the visitors had taken the lead and they were able to see out the game in a comfortable manner.
Just when Edwards thought his luck couldn’t be much worse he then has to deal with the loss of Tom Bradshaw and George Honeyman. Bradshaw, has just begun to hit some form but looks like he is set for a month out after picking up an injury in training that the Lions head coach described as “ridiculous”.
The Wales international was carrying out some extra shooting practice and – on his very lost shot – managed to injure his hamstring. Just a further blow and another casualty of the growing list at The Den.
Honeyman was also forced off during the game, another player who has been settling into a new role in the middle of the park very well in recent weeks. Hopefully it’s not too serious for the former Hull man, who missed the start of the season with a hamstring problem.
As mentioned above, the injury issues have caused a lot of problems for the Lions this season. Many of us thought the squad looked light after the summer window closed – particularly at the back – and so it has proved.
Joe Bryan, Ryan Leonard, Shaun Hutchinson, Murray Wallace and Wes Harding have all missed games this season through injuries. Hutchinson has missed the most, the captain has only made two appearances since he was forced off with injury at Birmingham way back in September.
A centre-back is one area the Lions need to improve in, there have been links to former loanee Charlie Cresswell, he is out of favour at Leeds and was a hit last season, striking up a good partnership with Jake Cooper in the centre of Millwall’s defence.
The whole team could do with reinforcements, Bradshaw and Zian Flemming have not been able to provide the goals to the level they did last season which has prevented Millwall from really getting their season going.
Fresh blood is definitely needed this month to help out an injury plagued squad.

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