Four takeaways from Millwall’s 0-0 draw with Luton Town – clamour for Esse to start and Lions seriously limiting xG of opposition

Millwall drew 0-0 with Luton Town yesterday in the Championship.

The Lions ended the evening in fifth place in the table with seven matches remaining.

Here are Richard Cawley’s takeaways from the match at The Den.


It was no major surprise that this Good Friday match was a tight affair with chances largely at a premium.

It was Millwall who had the better opportunities with Ryan Leonard’s long distance strike forcing Ethan Horvath into a flying save to his right.

Oliver Burke and Andreas Voglsammer also had openings in the box but a poor first touch let the former down in the opening minutes – Zian Flemming’s pass opening up the Town defence – while the latter got the ball trapped under his feet and a decent opening fizzled out.

While Millwall have struggled for goals in recent weeks, you’ve also got to praise their defensive resilience.

Luton had an xG (expected goals) of just 0.18 – the hosts with 0.64.

Other low xGs include Huddersfield (0.29), Reading (0.04), Norwich (0.46), Stoke (0.78) and QPR (0.48). What it shows is that the Lions do not give loads of big chances away.

George Long saved late on from Carlton Morris and Alfie Doughty, but both were stops you would expect him to make.

It was a fiercely competitive encounter full of industry and application. Neither team completed more than 200 passes in a physical and largely scrappy fixture.


When is the right time to start Romain Esse? There are plenty of Millwall fans calling for the England U18 international to be ahead of Oliver Burke and Duncan Watmore in the pecking order.

Watmore struggled to make any impact at West Bromwich Albion the previous weekend. And Burke, who came into the starting line-up against Luton at the expense of George Honeyman, also could have few complaints if he doesn’t retain his place at Hull City on Monday.

That lack of cutting edge or productivity from the wide areas is certainly a factor in Millwall’s recent performances lacking that extra zip in the final third.

You can argue that the reason why Esse has been effective when introduced to the action is because he is being used as an impact sub. But the clamour for him to be involved more will only grow unless the senior pros in his position start delivering a bit more.


Gary Rowett told our paper after the Luton match that Charlie Cresswell is set to be out for around six weeks with the fractured eye socket he suffered at West Bromwich Albion.

So unless the Lions reach the Championship play-offs, the England U21 international is unlikely to play again before his loan from Leeds United ends.

Ryan Leonard is another option to slot into the backline – especially if Millwall switch to a back three – but he came off with a groin problem yesterday.

It means there is a major reliance on Shaun Hutchinson staying fit to partner Jake Cooper.

Hutchinson came back into the side against Luton due to Cresswell’s injury and underlined, if it was required, what a good defender he is at this level. It was a seamless return for the club captain before he was subbed after cramping up.

Millwall v Luton Town SkyBet Championship, The Den, 07 April 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard


It remains one of the Championship’s great mysteries this season as to why officials seem to have a complete blindspot to fouls on Jake Cooper when he is attacking the opposition’s penalty box.

There were two occasions when former Charlton centre-back Tom Lockyer had his hands all over the big Lions defender but referee Darren England, happy to let strong challenges go all afternoon, did not point to the spot. He should have done. At least once. At the moment there is absolutely no deterrent for any team trying to combat Cooper’s aerial prowess by illegal means – because officials are not inclined to do anything about it.

Rowett made the point, correctly, that if VAR had been in use then Luton – and Lockyer – would probably have been punished.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former 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:

“A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.




If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or, 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

One thought on “Four takeaways from Millwall’s 0-0 draw with Luton Town – clamour for Esse to start and Lions seriously limiting xG of opposition

  • Probably the only person in the ground that doesnt think Esse should start is the Manager – “No surprises there” – I hear unaminousley from the terraces!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.