Dan Marsh’s match report from Millwall’s Wednesday night win over Rotherham

Millwall welcomed another Yorkshire outfit to SE16 just days after being stuffed by Leeds – but it was a different story for Gary Rowett’s men in midweek as they comprehensively roasted Rotherham.

It felt as though Millwall were in need of an early goal to settle a few nerves before a ball had even been kicked and, fortunately for the Lions, Ryan Longman obliged.

Longman was one of the few to emerge from Sunday’s dismal defeat with any credit, so it was fitting that he was the one who broke the deadlock midway through the first half.

The versatile loanee probably wasn’t brought in to deputise at left wing-back, but the Hull City man has experience in the position and has stepped up in the absence of Joe Bryan.

Direct and tenacious, Longman is a bit of a throwback and gave the Lions plenty of guile down the left flank. Not everything he does will come off – he fluffed a corner and a simple pass infield minutes before his goal – but his venomous strike arrowed beyond Viktor Johansson to give Millwall a well-earned lead.

While Longman impressed on Sunday, Zian Flemming was given a watching brief for most of the match after enduring an indifferent start to the season. He had the bit between his teeth after being recalled on Wednesday night and looked far more like the player who plundered 15 goals for the Lions last season and attracted substantial Premier League bids in the summer.

Flemming has been on the periphery of games so far this term but was in the thick of it from the off against the Millers. He bagged Millwall’s goal of the season in last year’s reverse fixture, and whilst his latest strike wasn’t of that same calibre, it was still a smart finish and, crucially, now means Flemming is up and running in the new campaign.

Having Flemming back on song is a major boost for Rowett, who has seen his side struggle to hit the right notes lately – particularly at home.

The Den has always been the Lions ace in the hole, but playing in SE16 quietly became a bit of an Achilles heel for Millwall towards the end of last season. Sell-out crowds against Blackburn last term and Bristol City and Leeds this term have failed to inspire results and, if anything, the Londoners have floundered rather than flourished in their own backyard.

The difference in class between Rotherham and Leeds may be more akin to a chasm than a gulf, but Wednesday night’s win was a welcome one and could prove invaluable to Rowett in the weeks ahead in the wake of growing fan unrest.

Millwall are perennial slow starters and this year has proven to be no exception, but there were plenty of positives on show against Rotherham. Casper de Norre oozed class in the Lions’ engine room, while Ryan Leonard continues to grow into the right centre-back role that he excelled in on occasions last term. Longman, too, caught the eye again and has already underlined how valuable he could be in a more advanced role as the season progresses.

Even in defeat this season, Rowett’s favoured system has a different feel: he now has genuine wing-backs at his disposal, with Longman and Brooke Norton-Cuffy basically playing as wingers against Matt Taylor’s side, who were punchdrunk well before Flemming doubled Millwall’s lead on the hour and struggled to lay a glove on their hungry hosts.

There should be more to come when the new boys gel properly, too. It’s easy to forget that half of the outfield team that started on Wednesday night weren’t at the club last season – perhaps teething problems were unavoidable. It certainly feels like the Lions have added genuine quality over the summer, even if the squad once again feels light.

Tom Bradshaw’s instinctive last-gasp finish was the cherry on top of the cake for the Lions, with the only downside being an injury to Bradshaw’s strike partner Kevin Nisbet, who did, at least, manage to hobble off after initially crashing to the turf in agony following an awkward slip.

The new season is still in its infancy, but momentum has managed to evade Millwall on the whole since August’s big kick-off.

The buzz that was generated from the opening day win at Middlesbrough quickly evaporated after back-to-back Den defeats. But with the fixtures set to come thick and fast before the next international break, the Lions now have an opportunity to build up a head of steam after restoring some pride against Rotherham.

BEST MOMENT: Ryan Longman’s stunning strike to break the deadlock was one the Hull City loanee will remember.

STAR MAN: Ryan Longman. Longman’s direct style gave former Lion Fred Onyedinma nightmares and he capped a fine display with a wonder goal.

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